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The Establishment Hotel

by Sarah Shuckburgh

This stylish hotel combines the best of old and new, with an ambitious and eclectic mix of colonial heritage and cutting edge luxury. The ornate facade on George Street dates from 1890, and the interior has been built round the remains of George Patterson House, which was gutted in a fire in 1996. The cleverest part is that the main bars and restaurants are at the front, with the noise and bustle of the city, while the 33 bedrooms are tucked away in a peaceful tower, 50 yards back from the street.

This is a "boutique" hotel (Oz for luxury), with large and well appointed rooms. For $995 a night, you can stay in the duplex penthouse, which has an enormous bedroom and adjoining limestone bathroom, and on its upper floor an open plan living and dining area with panoramic views.

All rooms have sophisticated electronic equipment. For instance at the touch of your bedside console you can conjure up 12 lighting combinations. Further touches of the screen will control the wide screen TV, three telephones, data port access, state of the art CD and DVD players, stereo, air conditioning and dozens of other amusements. But there are also old fashioned features such as windows that open, comfortable sofas and armchairs, and a large bath.

There are 13 bars to choose from, but the most mellow is the top floor Hemmesphere, with its Moroccan decor and ottomans strewn with cushions. The lights of Sydney's central business district glitter through curtains made of gold saris. Choose wine from the very long wine list, and cigars from the very long cigar list. And at the communal sushi counter, watch chefs prepare your meal as you rub elbows with beautiful people.

While you dine in the sophisticated "est" restaurant on the first floor, admire the 1940s pressed metal ceiling, the walnut furniture and Sydney's largest wine rack, which looks like a giant bird cage.

The ground floor Establishment Bar claims, at 150 feet, to be the Longest Bar In The Southern Hemisphere. A discreet bouncer on the door clicks in customers, and after 900 have arrived, a queue forms round the block. As a resident, you avoid the queue, and walk straight in.

If you want to dance the night away in the brick-walled cellars of the Tank Nightclub, don't miss the row of unisex portaloos which are the talk of Sydney clubbers.

Breakfast is served in the Garden Bar. The only concessions to nature in this indoor garden are the splashes of water trickling into a pool, and some spindly bamboo behind the counter. The Garden Bar is an austere but tranquil glass-roofed space which incorporates remains of the fire-ravaged 19th century building. The original jagged outer walls and cast iron columns blend successfully with concrete and glass.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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