The heavy and dim timber threshold at the MGallery Harbour Rocks Hotel obscures a cosy and stylish snug with relaxed lounge chairs and a wall of cultured reading matter where one could waste hours. It seemed the perfect place to retreat for the day from the dark and stormy skies that were threatening Sydney.
Not on this visit though, as we were in town for a whirlwind stopover with sites to see, so we checked in our luggage and abandoned the quietude to join the Christmas and cruise ship crowds outside.
Ideally located in the heart of The Rocks accommodation precinct of Sydney, the Harbour Rocks Hotel is within short walking distance to the tourist triptych – the Sydney Harbour Bridge in one direction and Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House in the other – and so we set off to traverse between them.
We were just a few minutes into our exploration when the anticipated storm arrived with a thunderous crack and a deluge that would drown a harbour water rat. We realised that we had left our travel umbrella back at the hotel so we swiftly hunkered down for brunch in a laneway café until the rain had passed. We then made a dash back to the hotel where the reception staff generously loaned us a second umbrella from their store – a rather fortunate gesture since our travel sized version combusted a short while after in a gust of wind halfway down George Street.
We spent several hours exploring Sydney’s sights rain free before heading towards the Opera House on our return journey; arriving just as the heavens opened once more. This time we took refuge in the popular Opera Bar with a glass of something and watched the stubborn seagulls batten down the hatches in the wind and rain as the Harbour Bridge climbers made a swift descent. When there was finally a break in the weather we made the short walk around Circular Quay back to the hotel to recover for the rest of the afternoon.
The Harbour Rocks Hotel is part of the MGallery Collection – a small group of unique and memorable international hotels each with its own story, history and character. If only the walls could talk! In 1887 convicts constructed the original brick and sandstone building which was used for many years as a store. When the building fell into disrepair during the mid-twentieth century some renovation work was undertaken and, in 1989, the building was further updated and transformed into the Harbour Rocks Hotel. More recently the building has been restored to expose much of the original brick and timberwork that had been covered up during years of occupancy.
The hotel has 59 rooms and we spent the night in the top floor Harbour View Suite. Like many historic buildings repurposed for accommodation, the access to our room was along a rabbit warren of corridors and stairs but this made the suite very private with no chance of disruption from noisy neighbours.
The interior throughout the Harbour Rocks Hotel is elegantly styled in dark timber, greys and browns accented with white while the walls display historic imagery, old maps and artworks. Despite this moody palette, the Harbour View Suite was light and airy thanks to a good number of windows and an adjoining roomy rooftop terrace. A large bay window offered a fabulous view of The Rocks rooftops and the Museum of Contemporary Art while the terrace provided photo worthy views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay. During our stay there were enormous cruise ships in dock by day, however at night when the ships had sailed, a view of the Opera House in lights was revealed. Stunning.
The rooftop terrace has an outdoor lounge that seats eight but on account of the rain we could not make use of the setting as the cushions were too damp. The terrace also has a large gas barbeque and two sizeable gas heaters for evenings outdoors – you just need to bring the sunny weather – and maybe the addition of a dining table would be a good idea so you don’t have to eat your meal on your lap.
Back inside there is a small lounge area with a two seater couch that converts into a double sofa bed, a leather chair, a coffee table and a flat screen television. The suite can accommodate up to three adults or two adults and two children so this configuration works well.
In the living area there is also a large stone top desk with an iPod dock and there is complementary Wifi for hotel guests. The adjoining kitchenette has a microwave, a bar fridge and a Nespresso machine.
The bathroom is spacious with a full sized bathtub and a separate shower recess with a rainfall showerhead. A full range of complimentary Appelles natural skin care is provided.
The suite has one master bedroom which is very well sized and includes a king bed, another office desk, another flat screen television and a robe. For your comfort while sleeping the room has its own air-conditioning unit and double blinds for a guaranteed sleep in. There is also a Pillow Menu that offers feather down, latex and memory foam options.
There is a good selection of dining options around The Rocks district – from traditional pubs like the Glenmore Hotel to award winning restaurants such as Pei Modern and Saké. But should you wish to dine in, the Harbour Rocks Hotel has a number of options. Eric’s Bar next to the hotel reception serves beverages and bar snacks from 11am – 9pm as well as coffee 24 hours a day. Scarlett Restaurant serves breakfast and dinner seven days a week. The dinner menu includes favourites such as Braised Beef Cheeks, Miso Glazed Salmon and Mushoom Risotto. For breakfast the restaurant serves a continental style breakfast as well as an a la carte menu, which includes Eggs Benedict and Buttermilk Pancakes as well as some lighter options. He enjoyed the Scarlett’s Rocks Breakfast while I went for the Healthy Start – avocado and truss tomato topped with Persian feta served on sourdough by Sonoma bakery. Breakfast and dinner ordered from Scarlett Restaurant can also be delivered to your room. Suzette’s Creperie, at the front of the hotel, serves authentic French crepes and coffee seven days a week.
Other guest amenities at the Harbour Rocks Hotel include a concierge service, a small workout room and an intimate outdoor garden bar, which can be hired for special occasions.
I stayed as a Guest for one night in the Penthouse Suite at the MGallery Harbour Rocks Hotel in exchange for writing a review of my stay.