Behind the polished façade and a lobby gleaming with grey Italian marble, the InterContinental Sydney Double Bay has a colourful history. In the ’90s, the oh-so quiet Eastern Suburbs setting made it a favourite among stars – even drawing Princess Diana, who was photographed on the balcony of the Presidential Suite.
Other A-list visitors to the hotel – then the Ritz-Carlton Double Bay (and subsequently the Stamford Plaza) – have included Sir Elton John, Madonna and former prime minister Bob Hawke, who married Blanche d’Alpuget there. Then, sadly, there was Michael Hutchence, who was found dead in his room in 1997.
Fans requesting Hutchence’s suite are inevitably disappointed because the InterContinental isn’t dwelling on the past (rooms have been renovated and the numbers are no longer the same). And that’s a good thing, because since the InterContinental re-opened in 2014, there are other – way more cheerful – reasons to visit.
Among them is Rooftop, the best part of a refurbishment reported to be have cost $25 million. At the chic sixth-floor establishment, 50 shades of white and beige meet nautical stripes and ladies who lunch. Nab a cabana by the lap pool and order a cocktail (the Cucumber & Honeycomb Belvedere Spritz, with Belvedere Vodka and pressed apple juice, will do nicely) then do nothing but watch the yachts slide across the deep-blue waters of Double Bay.
Hot tip: even if you’re not checking in, you can still enjoy the rock star view because the bar is open to the public. When it was launched in 2014, there was a $250 minimum spend for non-guests but this has since been dropped. However, you’ll need to get in early because the small space fills up quickly.
The interiors are all hushed sophistication, with a muted grey palette and fuss-free furnishings. In a Classic Room, luxuries include a king bed, Nespresso machine, a marble bathroom with double basins and luxe Agraria toiletries. But without a doubt, the highlight is the view from the glass doors – and the birdsong that filters in through them.
If all-out glamour is more your style, the Royal Suite is for you. At $5000 a night, the price is steep but you get four balconies, a study, a dining room and a butler’s pantry.
In-house diner Stockroom sparkles in the morning, when light floods through the generous arched windows. Sink into an armchair in the Bates Smart-designed space and tuck into a buffet breakfast of gourmet goods including Sonoma muesli, Yalla yoghurt and baked treats from Brasserie Bread. And order a Champagne mimosa, if you please.
At night, Stockroom turns into a more formal affair, offering classic dishes such as steak frites and duck confit. But Stockroom faces some stiff competition from Rooftop, where the sunset view is perfectly matched with a charcuterie board and a cheese plate, more than enough to feed two.
It’s Sydney’s only five-star stay outside the CBD, so most guests are here to escape the hustle and bustle of the big smoke. That said, it’s just a five-kilometre drive into town or you can catch a ferry to Circular Quay (the boat stops at a wharf 200 metres from the hotel).
There’s no need to venture that far, though: eateries and bars are steps from the hotel (Mrs Sippy is a favourite watering hole) and along with gorgeous high-end boutiques, there are second-hand treasure troves laden with designer labels.
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If you’re in the Royal Suite or one of the other 14 top-tier rooms, you’ll receive access to Club InterContinental, a café-like space connected to a sunny internal courtyard. Take your buffet breakfast in the exclusive surrounds then enjoy complimentary drinks with canapés in the evening. If the budget doesn’t stretch to a ‘club’ room, you can buy your way in for $160 per room per night.
All guests have access to the onsite Trumps Spa (no connection to the president elect) and receive free entry to the new 24-hour public gym, Snap Fitness, on the ground floor.
If gin is your poison, you’ve come to the right place: hotel bar Stillery boasts more than 100 varieties – and it opens at 7am! It takes its inspiration from the grand drawing rooms of times gone by – so mind your manners as you melt into one of the ornate gold-trimmed lounges to the strains of a baby grand. Vastly different to the Med-style pool bar, it proves the InterContinental can still be all things to all people, whether it’s a princess, a PM or a material girl.
Location: 33 Cross Street, Double Bay; (02) 8388 8388
Style: Understated luxury
Perfect for: A girls’ night out, a romantic escape or business travel
Number of rooms: 140