Hotel review

In pole position for a stylish stay in Sydney


Pier One began in 1912 as a passenger ferry terminal and cargo wharf in the already maritime and history-rich Dawes Point, and was converted into a hotel in 1998. It has undergone several upgrades, the most recent of which being a 2019, and is managed by Marriott International.


The hotel sits almost under the southern end of the Harbor Bridge and is part of elegantly revamped Old Quays in the arts and dining hub of Walsh Bay. You couldn’t be better placed to enjoy Sydney, with historic The Rocks, newly developed Barangaroo, Circular Quay and the Opera House just a stone’s throw away.


Don’t be fooled by the hotel’s unattractive gray exterior. The interior deftly marries industrial remnants such as original floors and ironwork with contemporary styling and glistening harbor vistas. That said, the hotel could do with a refresh, as interiors look tired and not as sparkling as they should be. As this is a boutique hotel, amenities are limited. Though there’s no gym or pool, harborside walks for jogging pass the door, and guests can borrow fitness equipment and take Flow Athletic classes on the TV in the bedroom.


I’m in room 238, which has a Juliette balcony which, when the floor-to-ceiling window is rolled down, nicely opens up the interior to the views and breezes of Walsh Bay. The color palette is understated, creating a contemporary look and a relaxing vibe. Everything you want is here, like a coffee machine, high-end toiletries, and fast Wi-Fi; the only welcome extra would be a second chair. Fortunately, this bedroom is never distracted from its main purpose, a good night’s sleep. Thumbs up for the blackout blind, extremely comfortable king-size bed, and perfect marshmallow pillows.

The bathroom, on the other hand, has its disappointments. While sleek, it’s cramped relative to the overall size of the room, and while the shower space is generous, the water pressure is sluggish. While it no longer surprises me that hotel design so often indulges in practical impossibilities, Pier One wins a special award for a faucet so low over the sink that I can barely put my hand under it.


Breakfast is a joy, with friendly, attentive staff and a small but delicious buffet of choices such as pastries, salmon, fruit and cereal. Coffee and a hot dish made to order are also included. I have scrambled eggs with mushrooms and sourdough bacon on the outdoor terrace, where I feel satisfied watching sullen commuters pass by on ferries heading to Circular Quay.

Previously awarded a Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat, Gantry Restaurant has just reopened for a limited preview season, while Bar One offers a range of snacks, sharing plates, salads and entrees. main dishes, including lamb rump, snapper and tiger prawn. linguine pasta.

Walsh Bay has plenty of dining options right along the promenade, including the excellent Lebanese restaurant Jounieh ( The Rocks, a short walk away, offers many dining options.


Much of the northern end of the CBD is nearby, but you can spend some time in Walsh Bay (, where you’ll find theatres, exhibition spaces, restaurants and some interesting shops. Keep going and you’re in Barangaroo Reserve (, one of Sydney’s newest harbor foreshores.

Meanwhile, a 10-minute walk takes you to Observatory Hill Park, an overlooked slice of Sydney that offers new angles of harbor views. Heritage Sydney Observatory ( offers an alternative evening, but check when it reopens, as it is currently closed for refurbishment.


Pier One blends heritage vibes with contemporary chic and sits in an arty enclave that flies under the radar, despite being so conveniently located for sightseeing. Although it could do with a little TLC, the hotel has a cheerful vibe, and the staff are extremely pleasant and helpful.


Rates from $439 per night, including breakfast for two. Drive & Discover package starting at $699 including two nights in a Heritage room, valet parking and breakfast for two. Pier One Sydney Harbour, 11 Hickson Road, Sydney, NSW. Phone 1800 780 485, see


The asset that all real estate in Sydney needs: location. Even better, despite its such a good position, Pier One feels like it’s hidden away.


Parts of the heritage wharf are currently undergoing restoration work, with some construction noise during working hours, but not in the evenings or on weekends.

Brian Johnston was a guest of Destination NSW, see

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