On Saturday, April 30th, we flew from Queenstown to Sydney on Air New Zealand and grabbed a shuttle at the airport to town. The shuttle driver, a middle-aged Tongan who came to Australia years ago to play rugby, delivered us to the front entrance of the Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney, a four-star hotel in the middle of Sydney’s central business district, where we would be spending the next six nights. We checked in and the pleasant receptionist from France booked us into a nice room on the tenth floor. The next morning there was a newspaper at our door plus a letter from the hotel management informing us that the hotel had changed its name, effective today, to the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. They also informed us that they are a five-star hotel. Wow! A name change and an additional star overnight!
We had chosen the Radisson for four major reasons:
- their CBD location was within walking distance of almost everything we wanted to see in Sydney;
- their rates were reasonable for a four-star hotel;
- we liked the generally favorable reviews we saw on Tripadvisor.com; and
- this was the only four-star hotel in Sydney we could find that offered Internet Access in your room for free!
Our hotel room was nice but was missing one major ingredient: we had been spoiled by the spectacular views at all three places where we stayed in New Zealand. But The Radisson is surrounded by taller buildings and so our only view was of the building next door! We soon discovered, though, that the best view in Sydney can be found at the Circular Quay, just an eight-block walk from the hotel. Of course, we had to share this view with a million other tourists but we didn’t mind. We also like to people watch!
We walked to and / or from the Circular Quay on three of the six days we spent in Sydney. We took a taxi one day to Darling Harbor, not knowing how long it would take us to walk. But then we walked back. We also asked the concierge at the front desk to call a cab to take us to a restaurant a few miles away, thus avoiding a half-hour walk. We thought that the Radisson’s location at the intersection of O’Connell, Hunter and Pitt Streets was an ideal spot. We were just two blocks from George Street, Sydney’s main street, and we could walk down either George or Pitt to get to the Circular Quay.
The Radisson offers two choices for dining: an ultra-expensive French restaurant called Bilson’s and a somewhat less expensive and more casual restaurant called Fax Bistro. We had breakfast one morning at the Bistro and dessert and an after-dinner drink there shortly after our arrival. The service was excellent but there must be a hundred restaurants within a couple of blocks of the hotel and most of them are less expensive than the Radisson.
Our netbook computer died on our second day in Sydney but the hotel staff gave us access to the Business Centre where we found three computers with Internet Access at our disposal. Usually at least one computer would be available and only once did I have to wait until my wife finished checking her email.
We had a wonderful time in this first trip to Australia for either of us and we enjoyed our stay at the Radisson. Stay tuned for more postings with lots of photos from our walks to Circular Quay and other places around the city.