The City by the Sea
|Down Under Hip: One of the swang insides at Darlingheart's Medusa Hotel (courtesy, Medusa Hotel)|
Most visitors to Australia make Sydney their first and last stop, and with good reason. The city is an easy introduction to the country and a great place to recover from jetlag and plan out the rest of your exploration. As with most international cities, Sydney isn't so much Australian as it is worldly, with a robust immigrant population and all varieties of food, culture, and scenes.
Only three airlines fly from the United States to Sydney: United, Air New Zealand, and Qantas, Australia's national airline. Of the three, Qantas will likely offer the best prices. They'll typically have special-rate package deals, made in consort with Tourism Australia, each catering to a particular travel interest or destination. For example, book before December 31, 2004, and you get a $999 round-trip economy ticket between Los Angeles or Honolulu to Sydney, including three domestic flights in Australia. Some restrictions apply.
Where to Stay:
Most of the hostels and budget accommodations are within the red-light district of King's Cross, particularly on Victoria and Orwell streets.
Around the corner from King's Cross, the Potts Point Holiday Inn (+61.2.9368.4000; nightly rates start around AUS$150) has almost effectively shed the shackles of the chain-hotel curse. The lobby has an expansive, hip bar scene and one of the only outdoor dining areas in the neighborhood, while many of the rooms offer staggering views of Sydney Harbour, the downtown skyline, and the Harbour Bridge.
But if class and a unique personality are essential in your hotels, look no further than the Medusa Hotel (+61.2.9331.1000; rates start at AUS$270). Once a spectacular mansion, this pink-walled, funky, and friendly boutique hotel opened in early 1998 in Darlinghearst, a hip neighborhood just shy of King's Cross with a thriving gay scene, great restaurants, and boutique shops.
Should you want to be near the waterand balk at the exorbitant costs of the new W Hotel in Woolloomooloo or the Hyatt at The Rocksthe Medina Grand Harbourside(+61.2.9246.7000; nightly rates around AUS$170) offers water views and easy access to Darling Harbour and the rest of the city. The apartment-style rooms come with full kitchens, balconies, and on-site parking.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication