Newsflash: Best Hotel In Sydney Discovered, Actually Values Guests

I never understood the true meaning of ‘bittersweet’ until I stayed at 1888 Hotel.

Sweet because it was only the best stay ever, yet bitter because now I can’t stay anywhere else.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to stay in a restored warehouse crossed with the treehouse of your dreams, then 1888 Hotel will put your wondering mind to rest.

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The foyer’s ‘selfie-space’.

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How did I discover 1888 Hotel?

I was faced with the challenge of only wanting to stay somewhere cheap, but needing to stay fairly close to Darling Harbour for the following day’s activities.

LOL.

Cheap’ and ‘Darling Harbour’ seldom appear in the same sentence, however you can now feel free to note me as the pioneer of such syntax.

So, after ensuring the “Cheap as shit” and “Nearest to Cool Shit To See/Do” filters were on, the beacon of light that is 1888 Hotel shone through the screen and into my life. At the top of the list, the ‘Shoebox’ room at 1888 was going at a rate of $215 for a Tuesday night (yeah, we use the word ‘cheap’ pretty loosely in Sydney).

Why You Should Stay Here

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The lobby bar and kitchen

Aside from the fact that it is a heritage listed boutique hotel, the best thing about 1888 is the decor and atmosphere. The former woolshed now boutique hotel still bears its original ironbark beams, and along with period windows and a living tree in the foyer, the warm treehouse-meets-warehouse vibe fills the air.

On the flip-side, this hotel wins in all aspects of modernity, too. With two glass elevators, vibrant Australian contemporary artwork, a very tech-savvy foyer (hello, iMac station and countless USB ports), free wi-fi and in-room complimentary iPads, this place is a Gen Y’s nirvana.

Why you DEFINITELY Should Stay Here

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Our King Suite

OK, let’s not forget why I’m actually taking the time to write about a random hotel I stayed at in Sydney. The service and the features! The staff were impeccably kind, and really seemed to enjoy the fact that they work for the best* hotel in Sydney, so much that they basically just threw perks at us.

Not only were we upgraded from the Shoebox room to the King Room upon arrival, we were also treated to the mini-bar free of charge all because we checked-in late and missed out on the hotel’s free happy hour! In my eyes, a hotel that offers guests a free happy hour daily is not a hotel, it’s a home.

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Other great perks of 1888 Hotel are:

  • Gigantic walk-in rain showers. Embrace this rare opportunity of knowing it is OK to not feel bad about taking showers that are way too long.
  • A complimentary goodie bag to help you enjoy your stay, including chocolate, mints, chips, fruit, biscuits and more. Say ‘toodaloo m***** f*****’ to late night Maccas runs and 7-11 trips.
  • Highly Instagrammable and very ‘likeable’ rooms with minimalistic design, contemporary artwork and exposed brickwork.
  • Instagram the crap out of your stay for the chance to win a free night. Your followers are going to get annoyed, but eh, all in the name of free crap, right?
  • The assortment of complimentary T2 teas. Because Lipton is too mainstream, duh.
  • If you have over 10,000 Instagram followers, you stay the night free.
  • The free happy hour.
  • Close proximity to Darling Harbour.
  • The free happy hour.
  • Good times are never far away with the lobby encompassing a kitchen and bar.
  • The free happy hour.
  • The selfie space in the foyer: literally a hanging photo frame beckoning you to take a picture behind it. You know you want to.
  • The free happy hour.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you, this place is scarily enticing and addictive and so god damn homey that you’ll definitely be back for more.

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All a Gen Y needs: Free wifi, iPad, snacks, beer and tea
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How a blue pillow does so much, no one will ever know.
Creative Design
How the rooms are marked: They don’t call it the ‘Instagram Hotel’ for nothing
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Thanks, we did.
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The walk-in rain shower in all its glory

*In my opinion. Which, mind you, is right 99% of the time. You can thank me later.

A trip to Melbourne in pictures

1. Chinatown

Just a stone’s throw away from our hotel, Melbourne CBD’s Chinatown was beautifully lit every night and regardless of the chilly weather, the atmosphere was always buzzing; noodle houses were packed even on week nights. The aroma of dumplings wonderfully wafted in and out every so often as we walked along the narrow street lined with dozens of different Asian eateries and grocers.

2. Luna Park/Palais Theatre

Out of the CBD’s chaos and into the beautiful coastal suburb of Saint Kilda. The lights of Luna Park and the Theatre at night are spectacular, creating a truly majestic and vintage scenery. Such a shame I didn’t capture it at night. This one was taken during the afternoon.

3. Hardware Lane

Stumbled across this little laneway one night and it was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We were surprised to find a street lined with al fresco dining right in the heart of the CBD as we thought Lygon St was the only place like this. It had a fun, European vibe to it with a musician on the street playing funky music. Each restaurant had their host out the front trying to lure customers in with suspicious, too-good-to-be-true deals, some were very persistent! It was almost like a game to see how many we could dodge or the best deals we could get. We settled with Max’s Bar & Restaurant, scoring a free starter and two glasses of white on the house! It goes without saying, the pizza was divine. (Excuse the poor quality, my phone camera doesn’t work too well at night).

4. The Queen Victoria Markets

And on this day, I died and went to European delicatessen heaven. While there are lots of things to look through at the QV markets such as clothes and little knick knacks, we headed straight to the food hall. Cheeses by the wheel, salami hanging from the ceiling and freshly baked bread rolls galore, I have to admit this could have been the highlight of the trip. The vast range of European stalls were incredible, from Hungarian sweets to German wieners to delicious Turkish bread rolls (pictured), we had a field day picking all sorts of sandwich fillings for our lunch.

5. Catching trams

The tram system was impeccable in Melbourne. Well, coming from Wollongong/Sydney where we don’t have these services, they were really impressive. Also, what a weird and wonderful ad for a tram, right?! Definitely eye-catching, I wonder if this ad was purposely used on the trams to resonate with the saying “packed like sardines”? The simile is totally relevant, especially at seven o’clock in the evening when everyone is finishing work, definitely want to avoid the trams at these times!

 

Memoirs of an exchange student: Stranded in Florence

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Happy chaps: me (left), and the two said Aussie friends being cute tourists before said unfortunate events

I have ventured to Florence on four different occasions. The first time was way back in 2008 when I was sixteen on a school trip where we lived with a host family. It was love at first sight. I promised myself I would re-visit this magnificent place.

It would seem that I just couldn’t get enough of the city after visiting it three times more between January and July of 2013. One time I went with the sole purpose of finding the perfect tan leather bag. It was a success. The time after that is the one where things didn’t go so well… getting stranded there overnight with no place to stay.

How could this have happened?! Because Italy. If anyone knows Italy, nothing runs on time, especially when it comes to public transport. While living in the gorgeous city of Bologna for six months last year, I noticed Italians just don’t do punctuality. If you’re looking for regimented schedules, common sense and rules, Italy is not for you. Go home. Or to Germany. Some days in Bologna, the bus just didn’t even come. Whether it was an unannounced strike or a Sunday, some days just weren’t bus days.

Anyway, Florence. Naturally, when one uses the automated ticket machines to buy a train ticket, one would assume that the train times available on the screen were actually available. But nope. My Australian friends were visiting me at the time, and had come to Bologna to visit. One night during their stay, we spontaneously decided we’d visit Florence since they hadn’t been yet. We caught the fast train from Bologna to Florence and had a magical Florentine dinner and city tour. However, when it was time to go home, poof! the magic disappeared. Where the f%^& was the train?! It was about 11pm when we returned to the train station only to find that it was closed. Shut. Chiuso. Cerrado. Geschlossen! (How good is German? So dramatic). Not a person, not a train, nor a gypsy in sight. After 20 or so minutes circulating the station we had come to realise the ugly truth: we were stranded.

Many people may say that Florence is one of the better European cities to be stranded in. And for the most part, this is probably true. But still- no one wanted a bar of us. We sat on some steps in the Piazza of the Duomo and I asked passersby for help or directions to a bar or night club that miraculously never closed. Instead of lending an ear, they huddled past quickly with hands in their pockets and heads down. Despite my Italian being quite good, I was frustrated that I didn’t know how to yell out “No I’m not a crazy hobo, I just want some freaking help!”. Alas, my exposed shoulders and jeans were not suitable attire for midnight, and were really doing me a disservice in the current situation. After befriending a dozen Italians over the years and having a few distant relatives here and there, I have come to realise you are definitely judged by your attire in Italy.

Anyhow, I think that was one of the first times in my life where I felt real and raw despair. We couldn’t hang around the station waiting for it to open because the area wasn’t well-lit and strange men lingered nearby. Maybe this was a sign that there really is a God, because the only place we felt safe was on the steps of the Duomo in the main piazza.

So after about three trips to McDonald’s and a small cheeseburger meal, a McFlurry, some weird mozzarella stick things and five hundred cokes later, the sun rose and we caught the 7am train back to Bologna. Home sweet home! For the first time of my whole trip I was actually grateful to be back at my shitty apartment with the stone-cold walls and cement floors to sleep all day.

Humanity can be pretty ugly, and paired with a language barrier, travelling isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. Sometimes it’s bad takeaway food, freezing your arse off when trains miss you (see what I did there?) and hoping there will be one Good Samaritan to save the day.

No hard feelings Flo, I’ll be back.