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Sunday 13 October 2013

Why Sydney's newest hotel has been an instant hit

Sydney’s latest hotel, the vibrant 1888 in Pyrmont, has been a smash hit from day one by getting the basics right: comfortable rooms, top-notch service and free wi-fi. 

Located in an old wool store (and one-time car park), 1888 is just a short stroll from Darling Harbour and the Convention light rail stop. The newest in a group of design hotels launched by boutique hotel operator 8Hotels, it opened in July.

Originally built, you guessed it, in 1888, the building that houses the hotel has undergone a $30-million development over the last two years, emerging as a luxury boutique property that has 90 rooms, including a brightly-coloured attic penthouse apartment overlooking the city. 

The smallest of the rooms, known as "the shoeboxes", start from $139 a night (an absolute bargain in pricey Sydney) but tend to be snapped up quickly, so it pays to book well in advance. 

The aesthetic of the hotel is distinctly Australian, blending the natural elements of reclaimed Iron bark, stark exposed brick and concrete walls, stone and bronze with a five-storey atrium. High ceilings and huge period windows reflect the heritage history, as do old photographs in the lobby lounge, although the overall vibe is very much up to date, with bright young staff who smile and do everything to make your stay as much fun as possible. 

The free wi-fi (and two complimentary Apple computer stations in the lobby) is a nice idea, as are the iPads with hotel info located in each room. The mini bars contain healthy snacks and organic drinks in a nod to wellness.

And as 1888 was also the year Kodak launched its cameras, the hotel offers Instagram-friendly walking maps for the Pyrmont area, a revolving series of Instagram images in the Mac space and a "selfie space" for guests to pap themselves in an old photo frame. It's all good fun, if just a little cheesy - but there's a kicker: 1888 Hotel is offering a complimentary night to any Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers. 

In addition to this, each month the guest who has snapped the best Instagram picture while staying at the hotel will score a free night’s stay to be claimed at any time.

There is no full-service restaurant on site, although dozens are within walking distance, but 1888 Eatery & Bar serves up continental breakfasts (the milk and juices could do with being kept cold, by the way) and rustic, tapas-style shared plates in the evenings. 

The hotel also has a policy of serving 100% Australian wines, beers, ciders and spirits. General manager Roberto Russo and food and beverage supervisor Patrick Rodgers have devised a selection  to ensure guests get an authentic Australian experience.

The list includes beers from artisan brewers such as Murray’s Brewery in Port Stephens and Two Metre Tall in Tasmania, with wines from boutique producers including Narkoojee from Gippsland, Soumah in the Yarra Valley and Derwent Estate in Tasmania, while West Winds from Margaret River and Lark Distillery from Hobart feature heavily on the spirits list.

The major downside for me was car parking. The hotel does not have its own car park and you have to park at the (expensive) Darling Harbour car park across the road.

That said, the 12 "shoebox" rooms are perfectly good for a 2-3 night stay with comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, a desk and modern bathrooms. I'll certainly be trying to snap up a few nights at the entry rate. The hotel is bright, quiet, functional but fun and the more you spend, the greater space and comfort. I liked the split-level loft rooms ($299) while suites start from $499.

1888 Hotel, 139 Murray Street, Pyrmont. (02) 8586 1888.

# Winsor Dobbin was a guest of 8Hotels. 


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  2. Amazing interiors and awesome service provided to customer.I have been to vibrant 1888 in Pyrmont and it gives us satisfaction of paying many dollars.
    Actually there's another restaurant Aria Restaurant - which can be a strong competative for you.