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Tuesday 6 August 2013

Position, position, position: a great place to stay in Sydney

I had three appointments in Sydney last week: a meeting at the Hilton Hotel, dinner at the excellent Fix St James and a wine event at Darling Harbour.

In an era when you can spend hours wasting time getting to appointments in our big (and often gridlocked) cities - particularly Sydney with its nightmarish traffic - it can be a money-saver, and a time-saver, to book into a hotel that is central to your needs.

And they don't come any more central than the Swissôtel Sydney, right across the road from another of my favourites, the boutique, more leisure-focused QT Hotel and with theatres, eateries, pubs and Darling Harbour right on the doorstep.

The Swissôtel is a corporate hotel with a very good reputation for personalised service. Right after I tweeted about it I received several messages singing its praises.

It's one of those places where the staff pay attention to detail. It was my first visit but the concierge said: "Good morning Mr Dobbin" as I entered and exited. Little things like that make you feel more like a guest and less like a customer.

It's also not somewhere you feel you are being ripped off at every turn - although I'd prefer free wi-fi for all guests, not just those on the executive floors and Swiss Circle members.

just pure bistro is one of the most affordable restaurants in a Sydney five-star hotel, while winter pies are popular at lunchtime in Crossroads Bar, served with creamy mash and a glass of house wine for $20. You've also got to love somewhere that serves high tea every weekday.

The hotel opened 10 years ago and has been freshened up with a recent refurbishment of the bar, restaurant and executive lounge.

The Swissôtel has 359 rooms on the doorstep of Westfield Sydney, Pitt Street Mall and the Queen Victoria Building, but somehow manages to retain a boutique feel - not an easy trick to pull off.

The rooms and suites offer city skyline views and are comfortable and well-equipped (there's even a turndown service) - this is a five-star property after all. Rooms for the less mobile and younger guests are available and personal Nepresso coffee machines are featured in higher room categories.

Guests who feel in need of some extra pampering can upgrade to the Swiss Executive club levels for $60 and enjoy a buffet breakfast that is rather excellent, pre-dinner drinks and canapes, free refreshments all day, wireless internet, free newspapers and weekend afternoon tea.

Swissôtel Sydney’s executive club floors feature two levels of exclusive accommodation on the top levels of 24 and 25 with access to the Swiss Executive Club Lounge on Level 9.

And when you need to wind down (why do I always feel stressed in Sydney), the hotel’s fitness and wellness facilities feature the Amrita Spa, an outdoor heated swimming pool (below) and fitness centre.

If you must, simply must escape your cocoon and take on the big, bad city, an underground walkway conveniently connects the hotel to Town Hall station.

Swissotel Sydney, 68 Market Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. (02) 9238 8888.

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