Sydney is both beautiful and striking, refined and effortless. With a swagger that’s difficult to ignore, its springtime breaths are sweet: a blend of overgrown jasmine and salt. It’s grand and elegant in its architectural styling. Inner city boroughs feature rows of Victorian terrace houses with perfectly manicured rose gardens, that front wide streets lined with Moreton Bay Figs that lend to sweeping green canopies, whilst post-war modernism shines brighter towards the water, presenting washed palettes of summertime pastels on art deco condos along the coast from Bondi to Coogee.
Australia’s rich history makes the city attractive to the outsider. A not-so-quiet confidence and strong sense of pride broods from within a city where the people are friendly, and the lifestyle even friendlier. While other Australians will tell you of Sydney’s merciless rain storms, the weather is impeccably ‘sunny and fine’ for locals the rest of the time, and you’re never far from a beach. Driving into the center of town from the sandy outskirts of the Central Coast, you almost lose your breath as you move beneath the towering arches of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, to the fanning peaks of the Opera House piercing the sky to the left. There is history sprinkled throughout every part of Sydney, which has retained many elements from its early federation golden era: cobbled footpaths and looming, airy warehouses surround the old docks of the wharf, and original heritage-style pubs pepper nearly every corner.
Hotel Palisade, in one of Sydney’s oldest districts of Miller’s Point, is one of those special pubs. An establishment affectionately frequented by engineers, workers and soldiers since the construction of the bridge in the 1920s, the building was recently refurbished to reflect a more romantic and modern tale of a contemporary city, keeping the essence of the seaside firmly at its core. Keeping with tradition is of absolute importance to Palisade’s owners, who view themselves more as custodians than owners, with a duty to take care. After all, “if something has been there before you’re born and after you die, how is it really yours?”
The energy is vibrant and warm when you enter Hotel Palisade; the smell of leather armchairs, varnished woods and cool brick feels instantly familiar. Knowledgeable bar staff make spot-on suggestions for local fare, and as we sit for a cocktail, we are relieved by the seaside breeze that swells through the pub’s open doors.
Palisade’s eight rooms, all individually named and uniquely decorated, are more like characters of their own – maritime trinkets, stained glass, wood, and vintage furnishings of brass and marble adorn each suite, which nestle humbly against a watercolor backdrop of the Harbor. From the covered balcony of the Regi James suite, the views are undeniably first class as we sip a cold ale while the sun lowers and softens the harsh lines of the city’s skyscrapers. Upstairs, wall-to-wall windows let natural light showcase the chic interior of the enclosed rooftop cocktail bar and restaurant. Dusted pink, cane, slate and bronze fixtures provide a sophisticated setting for our expertly prepared dinner, which is graciously accompanied by a stream of glittering city skyline permeating through the glass deck.
Sunrise on the jutting balcony of our suite is even better. Beams of gold move up the white walls like a rising tide. After a night of dancing and laughter, the hazy view of the harbor is the only cure.