We had planned a short family break in Sydney over the recent Easter weekend, and wanted to stay somewhere new, ideally one of the family hotels in Sydney CBD.
We had our sightseeing all planned out, but also wanted somewhere our Little Man could be entertained and burn off some of his seemingly endless reserves of energy. There’s nothing he loves more than being in the water, so we narrowed our search down to a selection of Sydney hotels with pools, finally deciding upon the five star Primus Hotel on Pitt Street.
The Primus Hotel Sydney only opened in 2015, in a building on Pitt Street we had passed many times and never previously noticed – the old Sydney Water Board head office, built in the 1930s and full of Art Deco flourishes. And when we saw the last-minute rates available, we needed no further persuasion.
So did it live up to our hopes and expectations? Read on for our detailed Primus Hotel Sydney review.
We were booked into Room 324, a very spacious room on the third floor. Little Man was fast asleep after a big lunch in Chinatown, so we wheeled him in and let him rest while we looked around.
The king bed was big enough to sleep the three of us with room to spare, but we had already ordered a fold-out bed for Little Man which would follow later. The bed was very high quality, with a firm, comfortable memory foam mattress. We had to request some memory foam pillows for Faye, as she suffers allergic reactions to feather pillows.
The bathroom is separated from the rest of the room by a frosted glass screen. One look inside told us all we needed to know – understated luxury, the mirror and lights wouldn’t look out of place in a theatre dressing room, with a selection of Appelles toiletries.
As I made Faye a cup of coffee, Little Man finally roused himself. “Is this the Show and Tell?” he enquired. We nodded. He scanned the room, flopped onto the bed and asked, ”Where’s the swimming pool?”
The Swimming Pool and Rooftop Bar
Our stylish Art Deco elevator whisked us up to the seventh floor in seconds, and we walked outside into the dazzling sunlight. The noise of the city was very distant – up here our only company seemed to be the silent, soaring skyscrapers all around us. The trickle of water in the fountain below the pool added to the feeling of peace and calm, an oasis only a few blocks from some of the busiest shopping malls in Australia.
I glanced sideways to the rooftop bar on my left, noting the presence of one of my favourite Italian beers, imagining its familiar cool tangy taste after a few hours walking round the city in the late summer heat.
“Daddy, where’s the swimming pool?”
“Ah yes, sorry, little fella.”
We climbed the staircase, and both reached for the lock on the safety gate. He couldn’t wait to get in there, immediately making his way to the far end with the steps down into the pool.
It’s a stunning swimming pool, a twenty-metre long lap pool, though I don’t recall seeing anyone doing laps in our five long visits there. We met several other families whose kids were happy to paddle and splash about like our Little Man, while a few adults were happy to soak up some UV rays on a sun lounger before a quick cool-off in the water.
Little Man was in paradise. He couldn’t contain his excitement, laughing, kicking, splashing and treading water for a couple of hour at a time. Our Little Fish loved it both in the heat of the day and at sunset, when the lights of the city are turned on and it becomes magical.
The staff at the Primus gave five-star service from the moment we arrived to when I picked up some of the luggage we had left behind in the concierge’s office just before we left Sydney.
Everyone we met was friendly, helpful and attentive, and nothing was too much trouble. Little Man had a chat with several staff members, which he greatly enjoyed. We were not what you would call demanding guests, but notice the little things, and the service was first-rate.
Having Little Man with us, sitting through a three course fine dining menu would have been as likely as seeing the highly tempting free range suckling pig with apple sauce fly off the plate and around the lobby, so we postponed that until another visit. However, we opted to have breakfast both mornings we stayed, as this would take less time and there would be plenty with which to tempt him.
Breakfast is served in the Wilmot Restaurant on the ground floor next to the lobby. The continental and cooked sections are either side of the open plan kitchen where you see the chefs at work, with cereals, fruit, juices and smoothies along a side wall.
Over the two days we sampled many of the options, and can report that the food was excellent. We ordered an omelette and pancakes one morning, with Little Man having the latter, and he loved it. He also particularly recommends the pastries, and would have happily eaten them all day had we not intervened.
The Art Deco touches, especially in the public areas of the hotel, are wonderful, a touch of 1930s New York glamour and style. The restoration of the building was apparently painstaking, especially the red scagliola pillars in the lobby, but the result is something very special, and unique in Sydney. It’s an inspired choice of location for a hotel, and it works brilliantly.
The lobby area is the definite highlight, from the Art Deco chandelier next to the staircase, to the glass panelled roof to the lobby bar. The lobby is a wonderful place to stop and peruse the papers – or in Little Man’s case his dinosaur book – for a while.
We were unable to open the windows in our room, and we didn’t actually check with Reception whether it was indeed possible to do so. As a result we had to play around a little with the thermostat to get the right temperature, especially as we moved from evening to night. Sometimes it seemed a couple of degrees or so cooler than the stated temperature, but this is only a minor detail, nothing more.
If you suffer from certain allergies, e.g. to feather pillows as Faye does, it’s worth mentioning this at the booking stage so that you’re provided with memory foam or non-allergenic pillows. We requested memory foam pillows upon discovering that we had feather pillows, and were lucky to grab the last one they had. We should really have mentioned this when making our booking, while they should probably stock up on a few extra pillows.
Our Family Rating?
Would We Stay There Again?
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.