Staying at the Ovolo, Woolloomooloo, Sydney

Dionne Christian checks into the Ovolo, Woolloomooloo, Sydney.


Around a 30-minute drive from Sydney Airport, the Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a 5-star hotel at the Finger Wharf, a heritage-listed former wharf (it handled mainly wool for export) and passenger terminal now home to the hotel, apartments and restaurants.

Check-in experience: I checked in twice. The first time, late on a Wednesday evening, the staff were welcoming, warm and friendly; on a Saturday afternoon, they were similarly affable and a little excited about a wedding soon to take place at the hotel. They’re not afraid to let a bit of their own personality shine through but still maintain a calm, professional and efficient face for the hotel.

But be warned: though there’s a dress code, the staff don’t wear a uniform, so you might just mistake a stylish and well-coiffured guest for one of the staff.

Bedroom: There are three floors of super-spacious, modern rooms ranging from the “superoo” — the equivalent of a double — to the “ultraroo” — a split-level loft-style set-up complete with its own cocktail bar. I stayed in a superoo. The king-sized bed lived up to its description as “super-comfy” and I was able to enjoy free high-speed Wi-Fi, a free mini bar and snacks. Full of great contemporary art, each room features its own collection, with the artwork of the bed heads a special feature.

Bathroom: The Ovolo Woolloomooloo incorporates the heritage features of its former life with cutting-edge contemporary fixtures, fittings and decor. At no time does this look or feel incongruous or cold. A black and white bathroom might sound stark but felt comfortable. The Biology Smart Skincare range of products is Australian-made and free from sulphates, parabens and other chemicals.

In the neighbourhood: It’s about a seven-minute walk from the Royal Botanic Gardens and Art Gallery of New South Wales. It’d take around 20 minutes to walk into the CBD and Circular Quay — but why would you want to leave? The hotel is packed with fabulous art, including fascinating historical info boards that explain the wharf’s intriguing history.

There’s also a well-appointed pool and free gymn and the Alibi restaurant is just great.

Food: You’ll get a free continental breakfast at Alibi, which also serves high tea and dinner. Alibi is unique because it has an entirely plant-based menu (so don’t expect bacon for breakfast or steak for dinner). The menus were designed by US celebrity chef Matthew Kenney, a pioneer of the upmarket vegan restaurant scene. The food and the bespoke cocktails are stunning. I’m still dreaming of the avocado tikka; not to mention the Run DMC cocktail. So good!

Noise: Considering the number of neighbouring restaurants, it was remarkably quiet.
What’s so good about this place? It’s unique, in a great location and makes the best of its heritage features, with some great art.

Would I return? I’d like to live there.

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