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Shangri-La Sydney hotel review

Standing proud upon one of the most coveted locations on Sydney Harbour, Shangri-La Sydney boasts panoramic views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and sparkling Circular Quay. A fusion of contemporary Australian design with an Asian twist, the hotel remains true to its Singaporean roots while delivering an elevated accommodation experience, fine dining, spa and wellness facilities.

The facts

Traveller: Laura Barry
Room: Grand Premier Sydney Harbour King
Address: 176 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Date: June 2023
Best for: Culture vultures with a healthy appreciation for art, food and the finer things in life – and celebrating New Year’s Eve with an exclusive view.

dining by the window
Dining at Altitude © Shangri-La Sydney

The Signature factor

Despite enjoying valet parking, a well-appointed room, gym, pool and spa facilities, the highlight of the hotel is undeniably Altitude, a restaurant serving up spectacular cuisine and multi-course menus alongside breathtaking views of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The panoramic views are unparalleled, and the hotel’s signature offering. 

The Shangri-La Hotel Sydney concept

Taking inspiration from the 1933 novel, Lost Horizon by James Hilton, Shangri-La is a conceptual realisation of Hilton’s fictional found paradise. Opened in 2003, Shangri-La Sydney is a centrally located urban sanctuary that delivers Asian hospitality in a premium context. Comprised of 564 rooms and suites spread across 36 levels – each with sweeping views and the largest windows of any harbourfront hotel – Shangri-La Sydney delivers a wonderful guest experience. 

armchair to the left, chest of drawers centre, bed to the right
Horizon Premier Sydney Harbour Room © Shangri-La Sydney

First impressions of Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Tucked away in The Rocks, Shangri-La Sydney greets guests warmly. The valet parking takes the headache out of storing a car at this inner-city sanctum, and the staff at the front desk are cool, calm, and collected despite the many people moving through the lobby. My initial confusion as to the location of the check-in desk is quickly rectified by a smiling concierge who graciously accompanies us to the correct counter. Check-in is swift and the timber room key is delightfully tactile.

Shangri-La Grand Premier Sydney Harbour King room

Spacious, well-appointed, and homely, the Shangri-La Grand Premier Sydney Harbour King room provides guests with an apartment-like experience. A wardrobe and entry space welcome guests at the door. A short hall leads to a sprawling bathroom – complete with a large bath – then bedroom, seating area, and work desk. Modern with a traditional aesthetic, the room is comfortable and supplies a home-away-from-home feel. The mini-bar is well stocked with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, plus a few snacks. In-room dining is available.

Top suite at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

The Royal Suite is a luxurious one-bedroom suite spread out over 242 square metres, fitting a spacious living room with a grand piano, dining room, an executive study, plus a streamlined kitchenette. Booking a stay in this suite affords guests access to the exclusive Horizon Club Lounge and its full range of privileges. This room feature views over Sydney Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Sydney Opera House, and includes an oversize bathroom with soaking bath tub, generous bench space and comfortable textiles.

a grand piano in a hotel room
The Royal Suite © Shangri-La Sydney
a bed in a hotel room
The Royal Suite © Shangri-La Sydney

Dining at Altitude

Shangri-La provides guests with two dining options, Altitude Restaurant and Blu Bar On 36. Using local seasonal produce to create tantalising dishes that celebrate Australia’s distinct flavours, Altitude has won awards for Best Restaurant from the Australian Hotels Association National Awards for Excellence, 2022, and Best Listing of Australian Wines and Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List by Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards, 2022. Meanwhile, Blu Bar On 36 is a sky-high cocktail bar serving up imaginative libations. High tea is also served in this scenic space, along with private cocktail classes.

During my stay, I enjoyed the chef’s signature menu, a five-course bespoke indulgence of modern Australian cuisine that took inspiration from global flavours, with Australian wine pairings. The menu featured fantastic dishes such as West Australian snapper, Yamba king prawns, quail roulade, Brooklyn Valley striploin, and a sweet Corella pear brulee to finish.

Highlights from the mini-bar

The mini-bar provides visitors with a selection of pre-mixed signature Shangri-La cocktails, a miniature range of Archie Rose Distillery spirits, a mini bottle of Moët & Chandon, as well as a range of non-alcoholic beverages. The mini-bar also provided some small snacks, tea, coffee machine and coffee essentials.

I wish I could take home…

I wish I could have taken the mini-bar home with me, if only for the novelty of the adorable miniature bottles. The bite-sized bottles of premium spirits, pre-made cocktails and Moët & Chandon would look fantastic on my private bar table at home – and are the perfect size for an after-work beverage.

Chi, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Chi, The Spa provides guests with a healing sanctuary and a menu of body treatments, facials, massages and wellness retreats. Meanwhile, fitness lovers will appreciate the level two Health Club, which includes a gymnasium, indoor swimming pool, hot whirlpool bath and sundeck.

two people getting a massage
Treatment room at Chi, The Spa © Shangri-La Sydney

Things to do around Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

Located in the historic heart of Sydney, The Rocks, Shangri-la Sydney provides guests with an array of attractions and dining options all within easy walking distance. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art and enjoy a coffee at the lovely cafe, then, after taking a stroll around Australia’s most famous harbour, stop in at Hyde Hacienda Bar and Lounge for a cocktail. Then, have an atmospheric dinner experience inside the Opera House at Bennelong. No trip to Sydney is complete without enjoying a few scoops of gelato from Messina, which can be found in Gateway Sydney, opposite Circular Quay train station.

The accolades

The property has been recognised in many travel publications as providing fantastic service, wine lists and culinary offerings.

Green thumbs up?

The first Sydney hotel to join the beekeeping movement, Shangri-La Sydney acknowledges the important role bees play in the global ecosystem, and hosts eight beehives on the level three rooftop. Staff harvest the honey naturally and without heat treatment, producing up to 50kg of honey per year.

If only…

Shangri-La Sydney delivers an excellent product, but if I were to really dive deep into the details, there is one thing I think could be improved upon. Given the high calibre of the service and surroundings at Shangri-La Sydney, I would have liked to see premium amenity products offered in the bathroom to round out the experience. Aesop or Grown Alchemist comes to mind.

Final verdict

Shangri-La Sydney is a delightful place to make your home on holiday. The service is astounding, the staff are friendly and the hotel is a lovely, soothing environment. The rooms provide all that you could possibly need, and the views really are second to none in Sydney. Waking up to the sun’s orange rays peeking over the horizon, making the Opera House and Harbour Bridge glow, really is a visual treat.

woman standing in centre of pool
© Shangri-La Sydney

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