Darling Harbour location, walking distance from conference facilities
Industrial-chic rooms, all with iPads and free national calls
Historic building with stylish, modern decor throughout
Hip Lo Lounge, with small plates and free nightly happy hours
Guests get free access to Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre
Business center plus meeting room with catering option
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Fee for breakfast
On-site restaurant closes for lunch
The 90-room Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour is a trendy boutique property in the heart of Sydney's Darling Harbour area. Rooms have a rustic-meets-industrial-chic vibe, with vibrant Pop Art murals on the walls in most (part of a 2015 renovation). All rooms come with iPads, big flat-screen TVs, and free phone calls throughout the country. Although there's no pool or gym, guests of the Ovolo 1888 get free access to the nearby Ian Thorpe Aquatic and Fitness Centre. On-site amenities include a restaurant and bar that serves breakfast and dinner (but no lunch), free Wi-Fi, a small business center, and a tiny meeting room suitable for small groups. Those in search of conference facilities may want to check out the nearby Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, which lacks the funky charm of the Ovolo 1888 but has a lot more space for meeting and events.
Historic boutique hotel with rustic-chic interiors
Housed in a redbrick building dating back to 1888, the hotel makes good use of its old-fashioned space, updating it with modern industrial elements to create a rustic-chic vibe. The lobby features a lot of exposed wood beams and has a small patch of grass with a tree growing from it to give the space an outdoor-indoor feel. The lobby is atrium-style, and surrounded by rooms and hallways all the way up to the ceiling. Colorful, mid-century style chairs in shades of electric blue and purple, plus enormous button leather sofas, complete the look and give the space a cheerful atmosphere. The hotel attracts both business guests and tourists, and is likely to appeal most to those who want something artsy and hip, but not pretentious or stuffy.
In Darling Harbour, a short drive from tourist attractions
The Ovolo 1888 is located in Darling Harbour, across the street from a large parking lot and a short walk from shops and restaurants. It's a five-minute walk to the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, which closed in early 2014. The center is expected to reopen in late 2016 in a new incarnation as the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour. The Australian Museum and Hyde Park are a 20-minute walk (or six-minute drive, without traffic) away. The Sydney Opera House and historic The Rocks both take about 10 to 15 minutes by car, depending on the traffic. Taronga Zoo and Bondi Beach are each a 15- to 20-minute drive away. The Sydney Airport takes a minimum of 15 minutes by car and can also be reached by the Airport Line (T2), which stops at Museum Station, a 15-minute walk from the hotel. The entire trip takes around 40 minutes door-to-door.
Rustic-industrial rooms and suites with iPads and free phone calls throughout Australia
There are eight different types of lodging at the Ovolo 1888, including two one-of-a-kind suites. All come with free unlimited national phone calls, loaner iPads, and free Wi-Fi. Decor is similar throughout the property and includes bold Pop Art-inspired designs painted over industrial pegboard walls (part of a 2015 renovation), exposed brick walls with artfully fading whitewash, sleek slate-gray headboards, and wooden desks with black chair and lamps. Colorful art pieces, throw cushions, and -- in some cases -- chairs differ from room to room. Bathrooms have gray floors and ceilings as well as large walk-in showers; though not all have baths, those that do feature huge standalone tubs that are both markedly deeper and wider than average. The base category of room is the aptly named Shoebox, and these tiny spaces with queen beds and 32-inch flat-screen TVs might feel too cramped to some. The next level up -- the Queen Bedrooms -- have a little bit more space and 40-inch TVs. King Bedrooms are larger still and have king-sized beds, while some of the even larger King Deluxe Rooms come with bathtubs. Lofts are the same size as King Deluxe Rooms but have the added benefit of being split over two levels (with the king-size beds upstairs) and have sofas and desks on the main floors. Junior Suites have open-plan designs and feature sitting areas and big bathrooms with tubs. There are also two suites with kitchenettes: one with a huge outdoor area and a cellar fridge, and an even larger one with a cocktail bar and a big living room with a 55-inch flat-screen TV.
A meeting room, business center, free Wi-Fi, on-site lounge, and free access to nearby gym and pool
Though the Ovolo 1888 lacks the conference facilities common to many of the larger hotels in the area, it does have a small meeting room painted in periwinkle and featuring a long boardroom table that can seat 10 to 12 people. The room has coffee- and tea-making facilities and catered meals can be arranged through the on-site restaurant on request. There's also a tiny business center with a couple of Mac desktops for guest use and Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
The on-site Lo Lounge serves coffee and a buffet breakfast every morning (for a fee), then drinks -- including an extensive selection of Australian wines -- and a menu of small plates throughout the day and at night. Lo Lounge hosts a free wine reception every evening.
There's no gym or pool on-site, but guests get free passes to the nearby Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, which features an Olympic-sized pool, a freeform pool, a fitness center, steam rooms, and saunas. There's also no on-site parking, but guests can park at the Wilson Harbourside Car Park across the street, for a sizable fee.
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