Staying in nice hotels is one of the perks of this job: there’s no denying that. But, reader, sleeping in hotel after hotel after hotel also has downsides. Stay in enough, and you get pretty in tune with what those can be. Luxury hotels pride themselves on every little thing they do being for the benefit of the guests, but there’s also an underlying feeling that every little luxury comes at an exorbitant cost. Usually because it does.
It can be safely assumed that most blokes don’t really give too much of a stuff about the price of a hotel when they actually make the booking. It’s also pretty easy to infer that the first thing every bloke ever does after checking in and throwing down his bags is snap the top off a not-quite-cold-enough Corona from the minibar, lamenting after one sip the fact it’s just cost him $14 and isn’t even what he wanted to drink. So why not make the extras cheaper? Why not include more with the room? Why not make a guest feel like they’re not just welcome, but welcome to help themselves?
Larmont Sydney were smart enough to figure this out – and the difference is huge.
Located behind the famous Coke sign in Kings Cross (they’ll say Potts Point, but so does everybody in Kings Cross), Larmont is Lancemore Group’s answer to boutique accommodation in the harbour city. Lancemore is famous for luxurious country-estate style retreats with grand backdrops that act as visual fodder for very expensive weddings, but this is different. This is intelligent hospitality, and I’ll tell you why.
A room is only good if it feels welcoming. No amount of smiling at a reception counter and help with your luggage can make up for a room that’s been over-designed and under-catered to. A large, understated space, lounge, television and king bed (in a separate room) is what’s behind my door. Off the bedroom is a balcony that wraps around the side of the building, simple outdoor furniture, and a wide, marvellous view across Darlinghurst and down William St toward the city.
Off the bedroom is an ensuite not much smaller than most entire apartments in this suburb – with a rain shower and ample luxury supplies. The bedroom gets another telly and every room comes equipped with Apple TV (I couldn’t quite figure that one out, but I don’t blame Larmont for this; I don’t know even how to change the wallpaper on my phone.)
But here’s the real kicker: the minibar, or as I like to call it: the minibargain.
Sorry – that’s a terrible pun, but it’s true. Now I’m no cheapskate, but I defy anybody in the whole hotel-room-frequenting world to agree that mini bar prices are ever reasonable. One beer usually costs about the same as a six-pack downstairs and, to add to it, it’s almost always disappointing. Larmont have taken a different approach, however, and made inclusions on the room (2 x snacks and 2 x non-alcoholic drinks per day), so that you don’t have to feel financially guilty for a juice and a cheeky kit-kat. They’ve also offered up a wide selection of booze, in-room, for a fraction of the cost of other hotels.
Seriously – those little bottles of gin and vodka? $4. That’s less than the bottle-o. There’s even a full bottle of Dom Perignon in there if you feel like dropping $250 (that’s $35 more than the Dan Murphy’s price, and less than half of the last hotel I stayed in.) It’s not about not spending money, it’s about the convenience of enjoying what’s at your fingertips without the underlying knowledge that you’re being pick-pocketed by a massive chain who are betting on the fact you can’t be arsed to walk 200m and provide for yourself. Given that Lancemore have their own winery, Lindenderry, their signature wine selection is on offer too – if you like one of them enough, you can order a bunch of it to take home with you via the iPad in your room.
In the meantime though – $5 for an actually-cold craft beer? I’ll definitely drink to that.
The location of Larmont Sydney means you have the world at your feet in terms of how to dine. From the luxurious top-end restaurants of Potts Point to cheap and cheerful Darlinghurst eateries, all within a five minute walk, you’re somewhat spoiled for choice. Given that I stayed on a Friday night, and the idea of facing the Cross after a long week (contrary to popular belief, lockout laws haven’t completely killed it) was not on my to-do list, I happily ordered room service and stayed in. Squid ink linguine with king prawns, white wine and chilli off the in-room-dining menu was enough for me. It might not be the most inspired menu, but for room-service I think that’s kind of the point. Favourites and comfort-dishes are all well-priced, high-quality, and arrive within 15 minutes of ordering – just the way it should be.
This place has eschewed the unnecessary bells and whistles of other boutique chains and stuck to practical, comfortable hospitality. It’s still five-star luxury at it’s best, let’s not forget. It just has a lot more invested in the actual guest and less on silly furniture, hipster gimmicks and impossible-to-figure-out-how-to-use light switches.
Overall, it just makes sense, and I predict many others will follow.