Down next to Walsh Bay’s famous finger wharves, Sydney’s famous Pier One, has had a few changes over the years, but the most recent incarnation as a complete hospitality experience is by far the most enjoyable, since the enormous wharf was constructed in the early 20th century.
Branded under Marriott Hotels’ Autograph Collection (it was previously an Accor property operating under The Sebel flag), the current offerings of the waterfrontsite is a perfect blend of old-Sydney charm and modern amenity, but with the five-star service that befits its middle-of-the-harbour location.
Checking in sees you greeted with bubbles, and chocolate-dipped strawberries–a somewhat anachronistic touch? Sure. But who cares–they’re both delicious, and an easy win that puts you in the mood for a relaxed time. Friendly porters get your gear to your room where you’ll find a large space, with white paint on new surfaces appropriately juxtaposed with the exposed beams of the once-industrial wharf. Springing for a room that overlooks the harbour at the northern end of the pier gets you decent views of the bridge, too, a must if you’re booking for a romantic evening.
Rooms come well-appointed, with everything you could possibly need on hand for an ultra-comfortable stay, including pre-mixed cocktails from Melbourne’s Everleigh Bottling Co, multiple versions of fancy smelly stuff for the deep bathtub, a well-stocked minibar, and one of those TVs that comes out from the end of the bed, just like in MTV Cribs. There’s also one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced in any hotel room: powerful shower jets that spray from the walls of the shower as well as the ceiling. Classy.
This all makes for a very comfortable night’s sleep, but let’s be honest, you’re in the middle of Sydney harbour, surrounded by plenty of options for a fun time. Despite the myriad touristy things you can do in the immediate vicinity (and selection of restaurants just a stone’s throw away), Pier One is dedicated to making sure that everything you could possibly want for a stay in Sydney is kept right at your fingertips.
Pre-mixed cocktails in the room might be good and well, but your best option for a tasty tipple is to head down to the lobby. The area has been expertly designed around a cocktail bar, with views across to the north of Sydney through the giant glass panels, where you can watch boats go past while drinking a martini or three. This is a very handsome looking space, with enough room for meeting people, working alone or socialising in any format. Start your night here before heading to Pier One’s in-house award winning restaurant.
The Gantry is headed by Joel Bickford, previously of Biota Dining, and is a drinking and dining experience that goes a whole lot further than the usual hotel food offering. With a chef’s hat under its belt, The Gantry dishes up a degustation menu (although you can also dine a la carte) which flaunts seasonal local ingredients with inspired flourishes. Each course is listed with only its ingredients, so dishes arrive with an air of mystery surrounding their exact preparation, though this is expertly explained by the friendly front of house team.
Matched wines are an eclectic mix of local and European producers, which deftly match the dishes that arrive, each one an appropriate follow from the last, and with genuine care and passion from the knowledgeable and attentive floor team. Two courses into dinner and it becomes evident that this is just as much a top-shelf restaurant with a five-star hotel attached as it is a five-star hotel that serves up seriously delicious and creative tucker.
By day, The Gantry transforms into The Gantry Garden. In partnership with Perrier-Jouet, Bickford’s food is tactfully matched with champagne on the sun-drenched pier on the restaurant’s terrace, for a Sydney lunch that offers a different perspective of the harbour. Shared dishes are designed for a more casual experience, and diners can sip bubbles bottoms-up, with free-flowing packages available a for two-hour period.
There’s also their on-site custom made smokery, The Kerrigan, dishing up slow-cooked meats, and BBQ offerings from the charcoal grill, set up like a food truck on the outside of the pier; this is a really fun and accessible contrast to the fancy, heavily garnished (but far from over the top) dishes that The Gantry serves up, and would make a good meeting spot for a more laid back lunch or dinner over a few beers, or a quick bite before a night at the theatre.
One of the most endearing features of Pier One’s dedication to great customer satisfaction is their shared love for animals. Got a pet and have trouble finding a five-star hotel that’ll cater to your needs? Look no further. Not only does Pier One allow for dogs, they welcome them with open arms. Specially appointed rooms on the ground level give direct access to the pier, feature dog beds, a special doggy mini-bar, as well as food and water bowls, in partnership with Dogue.
Back to the room and the attention to detail that makes a hotel stay a pleasure becomes more and more evident. Light curtains allow for morning light to fill the room, but blackout blinds are a flick of a switch away. The telly that slides back down into the bedframe means that the room’s biggest feature isn’t a giant flatscreen, but a view across the water. Beers in the fridge are from Lord Nelson, the famous brewpub up the road (everybody’s sick of Corona in their minibar). You even get real wine glasses; Riedel stems, no less. All of these things make for a truly welcome, warm experience, and one which consistently proves its value.
Given the prime location, premium offering, and well thought-out services of this holistic hotel experience, Pier One goes a lot further than just offering a comfortable bed for the night, but creates the opportunity for a genuinely relaxed stay, and is worth visiting, not just for a sleep, but for an unmatched Sydney experience that’ll leave you sated, in every sense.