Sydney – Embracing its Urban Fringe
It’s usually Melbourne that earns the title of urban fringe ‘cool’ capital of Australia, but Sydney is upping the ante. For years somewhat bereft of trendy, inner urban boutique hotels, preferring instead to proliferate in the bold and shiny, often chain establishments, a new opening has just taken Sydney up a notch.
The Paramount House Hotel, in the CBD fringe area of Surry Hills, is the epitome of trend-setting, boutique hotel. Housed in a former warehouse at the rear of the already popular breakfast and lunching spot, The Paramount Coffee Project, in the 1940s-era, former Paramount Picture Studios, the hotel boasts 29 unique rooms, all pared back and spruced up to give just the right blend of contemporary, stylish and rustic feel.
With exposed stone walls, timber floors, black steel-framed glass, Aesop accessories and crushed French linen bedding, the ‘look’ is everything you would expect of a modern twist on the past. Our room, the small but adequate ‘Everyday’, felt perfect for two people on a short break.
A clever use of limited space meant the shower and toilet were housed behind heavy, frosted glass doors, which opened directly into the bedroom proper. This might disappoint some people, who are more used to cavernous, marble-clad bathroom suites, but I found it an ingenious and tasteful space-constrained solution.
In the main part of the room, the large square ceramic bowl with copper tapware doubled as a wash basin and sink. An exposed hanging area and cupboards to hide the bar fridge and amenities all added to the rustic feel.
Our room also had a tiny balcony, which peered through the copper ‘crown’ that wraps around the top of the building, overlooking the heritage rooftops and allowing fresh air and sunshine to fill the room during the day. A small bench seat and table enabled some work space if required, although I managed to avoid too much of that, intent on enjoying the spoils of the surrounding area.
Other rooms are larger, with more open, green spaces, separate lounges and sleeping areas, and even a timber bath in the ‘Loft’ and ‘Mack Daddy’.
Surry Hills is an eclectic suburb, combining both grunge and sophistication. From the iconic Melbourne dining imports of Chin Chin and Longrain across the road, to the nearby Bill’s, part of the Bill Granger food empire, and the newly renovated Dolphin Hotel, there are plenty of eating spots to choose from. There are also some cosy bars such as Love Tilly Devine, Shady Pines Saloon and This Must Be the Place, within an easy stroll. If you are up for a decent walk on a Saturday morning, head to the Farmers Markets at Carriageworks, housed in the Eveleigh Rail Yards, for the best in organic and bio-dynamic foods from farmers and artisan producers. There are also regular events at the venue so check out what’s on before your stay.
Despite the surrounding attractions, hanging out in the Paramount House precinct, sipping the free ale offered to guests in the reception lounge, and succumbing to the chia seed pudding with berries and yoghurt, Creole Jambalaya, and honey and sea salt doughnuts in the Paramount Coffee Project, is also a worthy activity, so don’t chide yourself for not straying far!
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