Review: The Sydney Harbour Marriott At Circular Quay


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I’ve stayed at the Sydney Harbour Marriott in the past and my experience on my last visit was a big reason I chose to book the property for this trip I was taking with Joanna. The location adjacent to Circular Quay is very convenient for exploring central Sydney, for access to local transport links (including ferries, buses, and trains) and it’s an incredibly easy property to get to from Sydney airport with the airport train stopping less than 3 minutes’ walk from the hotel doors.

Cost

To add to the property’s great location is the property’s great award night price – at the time of this visit the property cost 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night so this five-night award stay (where one night was free) cost just 140,000 points.

As I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each this booking effectively cost me $840 or $168/night.

Upgrades

Fortunately, the Sydney Harbour Marriott isn’t one of the increasing number of Marriott properties that choose not to accept Suite Night Upgrades so, as I was traveling with Joanna and figured that a bigger/nicer room would be a cool bonus, I applied 5 of my 10 upgrade certificates to the reservation.

As usual, when choosing which rooms I’d accept an upgrade to, I refused to settle for a marginally better room (what’s the point?) and gambled on the top two options open to me.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Unlike with Hyatt’s fantastic suite upgrades, Marriott Suite Night upgrades don’t clear at the time they’re applied to a reservation – properties will only begin to consider the upgrade request from 5 days before check-in – and, to be frank, I didn’t think the upgrade would clear.

I was wrong!

Four days before we were due to arrive in Sydney, I got an email to let me know that my upgrade had been confirmed and, as the email didn’t tell me what room category we had been upgraded into, I checked the Marriott app:

Woo Hoo!

When I’m traveling alone, I don’t really care about suite upgrades as I don’t really need a fancy room all to myself, but when I’m traveling with Joanna I love a good upgrade…and this was just about as good as it gets at this property J

Arrival/Check-in

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

We arrived at the property in the evening and were lucky to find that the check-in desks were surprisingly quiet.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Check-in was swift and efficient (I was thanked for being a Titanium member, I chose points as my welcome gift and we were told about the Executive Lounge) and it wasn’t long before we were heading past the main restaurant (Silvester’s) which dominates the center of the property)…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and heading to the elevators and our room on the very top floor of the property.

Opera House View King Suite

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The Opera House View Suite on the 32nd floor of the property (29 floors above ground level) is comprised of a living area, a bedroom, an ensuite bathroom, and a second smaller bathroom.

As you pass through the door to the room you pass the entrance to the small bathroom on your left (more on that later) and enter the main living area.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Notably, there’s no sofa or sofa bed in this area so, although the living area can be closed off from the bedroom, a rollaway bed would be required if a third person (presumably a child) was to share this room.

The main table in the living area is made of glass (if you use a physical mouse when working, make sure you have a mousepad)…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and there are a couple of power outlets on hand for charging devices.

The bedroom leads off the living area…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and is a very good size.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Unsurprisingly, the king-size bed takes center stage, but there’s still plenty of room for a closet, a cabinet, and a suitcase rack…and there’s still a lot of space left over to ensure that the room doesn’t feel small or confining.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The top of the bedroom cabinet was home to a coffee maker, a kettle and complimentary water…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…while the cabinet itself held a drawer with overpriced snacks and wine…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and a small fridge with more overpriced items that no one really needs.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The one oddity about the bedroom is that it doesn’t have any windows and, while initially I wasn’t sure I’d like this, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

It turns out that, during the daytime, the light pouring through the two windows in the living area is more than enough to keep the bedroom light and airy (assuming you have the door between the living area and bedroom open!), while at night time the bedroom can be made beautifully dark for an undisturbed sleep.

This worked very well and really helped us get over the jet-lag in double-quick time.

There’s only really one drawback to the bedroom and that’s a lack of power outlets. While both sides of the bed have switches to control the room’s lights only one side has a power outlet…and that’s not ideal.

The master bathroom is ensuite and is a very good size.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

To one side of the entrance are a vanity unit and a large walk-in shower…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…while on the other side is a bathtub.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The bathroom comes equipped with all the usual amenities…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…but I have to make a special mention of the Appells toiletries which were fantastic.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

These may be my favorite toiletries out of all the ones I’ve been given by hotels down the years – the scent is beautiful.

The second bathroom (the one just inside the main door to the room and attached to the living area) is considerably smaller and just has a toilet and a vanity unit…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…but it’s very useful for preventing arguments if one guest is slower than the other when getting ready before heading out 🙂

The rooms piece de resistance was always going to be the view (it is, after all, called an “Opera House View suite”) but, before I show you the view I should first explain something about the property’s location.

The Sydney Harbour Marriott is set back one block from Circular Quay so, even though it’s a pretty tall building in its own right, it doesn’t have an unobstructed view of Sydney Harbour – there’s a large Credit Suisse building right in the way.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Still, our room was in one of the best positions in the hotel (possibly even the best position)…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and although there was a big black building between us and the harbor…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…there was something magical about waking up every morning and being able to look out at the Opera House on one side…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and the entry on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

It was enough to make me wish I worked for Credit Suisse!

I should point out that the room actually has two aspects – one looking towards the Opera House/harbor and the other looking towards the nearby buildings on the east side of the property.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

There’s not much to say about the second view except to say that, at the time of our visit, there was a lot of construction work going on in this area (construction work which will be going on for some time based on what we saw) but our room seemed to be pretty well insulated from the noise of the building works.

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge at the Sydney Harbour Marriott is located on the second floor (one above ground level) and is open daily from 06:00 to midnight.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Access to the lounge is restricted to guests booked into rooms that specifically come with lounge access, as well as Marriott Platinum, Titanium and Ambassador Elites.

Elites may guest just one person each into the lounge free of charge with one additional guest costing AU$90/day and two extra guests costing AU$120/day.

The Executive Lounge offers food, drinks, and snacks at various times of the day with the following services on offer at the time of this visit:

  • Buffet breakfast: 06:00 – 10:30 (weekdays) & 06:30 – 11:00 (weekends & holidays)
  • Afternoon tea: 14:00 – 16:00
  • Evening hors d’ oeuvres: 17:30 – 19:30
  • Desserts: 19:30 – 21:30
  • Cocktail hour: 17:30 – 21:30

Complimentary coffee, tea, and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day.

The Lounge – The Space

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The Lounge – Snacks and Hot Drinks

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The Lounge – Buffet Breakfast

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The buffet breakfast was more than ample for our needs and you’d have to have a serious list of intolerances not to be able to find something to eat out of the spread that was provided each day (there were small variations to the hot food from day to day).

Guests who wish to upgrade their stay can pay a surcharge of AU$20 per person to have breakfast in the hotel’s main restaurant (more on that later).

The Lounge – Evening Food/Drinks/Snacks

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The food on offer in the evening is less impressive than the buffet breakfast but, if you don’t want to eat out, there’s certainly more than enough on offer to make up a satisfactory meal – it’s hardly gourmet, but with soup, a number of hot dishes and a variety of cold items on offer, it’s not a bad selection at all.

The Dining Options

The Sydney Harbour Marriott has three different dining venues each offering a different dining experience and food options.

The hotel’s main restaurant is called Silvester’s and takes pride of place right at the heart of the property on the ground floor.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

This is where the hotel’s main breakfast buffet is served and where guests can enjoy an evening meal.

Here’s what the breakfast buffet looks like when viewed from the hotel’s 2nd floor:

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Attached to Silvestre’s and at the very back of the property is the Customs House Bar which is a pub-style establishment serving bar food and drinks.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

A nice aspect to this bar is that it has an open-air seating area where you can watch Sydney’s workforce go by as you enjoy a remarkably expensive drink (alcoholic drinks in Sydney are anything but cheap!)

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Lastly, there’s a small coffee shop (Three Bottle Man) which is also attached to the Marriott and, as well as the usual coffee shop fare, it offers a breakfast menu…

….an evening menu…

…lunchtime specials…

…and a pretty good selection of wines, beers, spirits, and cocktails (click thumbnails to view).

There isn’t much space to sit inside the Three Bottle Man but, just like the Customs House Bar, it has a small outside seating area (in a quiet alleyway) which is a pleasant place to spend some time.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The Gym/Pool

As hotel gyms go, the gym at the Sydney Harbour Marriott is surprisingly well equipped.

It’s located on the 4th floor of the property, spread across two levels, and, although it doesn’t have any great views to distract you from the pain of your workout, there’s plenty of equipment to keep most fitness fans happy.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Attached to the gym is an outdoor workout area…

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

…and an indoor pool.

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

The hotel also provides two saunas, lockers and pool towels (so you don’t have to remove the towels from your room).

Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay

Final Thoughts

Negatives:

  • The property has 5 or 6 elevators (I don’t remember exactly) but there are times when it feels like only one is working – there were times where the long wait time for an elevator got a little irritating and times when the numerous stops between the top floor and lobby got tiresome (the hotel would do well to invest in a similar elevator system to the one at the Hilton LAX)
  • The Three Bottle Man and Custom House Bar seemed to close at a strangely early hour on some nights (before 10pm) despite notices saying they’re open “until late”.

Positives:

  • Great location for just about everything and a fantastic base from which to explore Sydney and its suburbs.
  • Good size rooms (on my last stay I had a regular room and it was more than big enough for my needs).
  • Breakfast in the Executive Lounge offers a very good start to the day and should satisfy most people’s tastes.
  • The breakfast buffet on offer in the main restaurant looked to be substantial
  • The gym is very well equipped and comes with a good size pool
  • At just 35,000 points per night, this property is a bargain

Bottom Line

I’m sure this comes across in this review but I’ll say it anyway – I’m a big fan of the Sydney Harbour Marriott.

The hotel meets expectations well, you couldn’t ask for a better located property, the staff are friendly, the rooms are a good size, the property is happy to upgrade elites to its top-level rooms and it places you a very short walk away from two of the most iconic structures in the world for just 35,000 points per night – what’s not to like?

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] There are two InterContinental properties in Sydney but with the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay being the less central of the two properties, it was a straightforward decision to choose the InterContinental Sydney as our second hotel on this visit to the city (the first was the Sydney Harbour Marriott). […]

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