Originally, I had been slated to stay at the Park Hyatt. Yes, the Park Hyatt that was definitely going to re-open around New Years. The Park Hyatt that promised they would be open by February 2nd. The Park Hyatt that informed me three weeks before my stay that they would actually not be re-opening until mid-February (and based on the amount of construction going on when I was in Sydney, that seemed optimistic).
The Park Hyatt and I made peace by way of a very generous offer of Hyatt Gold Passport Points, but there was still the problem of finding a place to stay close to travel time and during a busy part of the year. None of the other hotels in Sydney got particularly glowing reviews or came highly recommended, so I booked the Shangri-La thinking it would be ok.
After flying from CDG to BKK to SYD with a 12 hour layover in BKK and very little sleep, I was itching for a fight. The car company obliged me. Despite the fact that I had paid for a car & driver to gather me from baggage claim and take me to my hotel I was greeted by an elderly Aussie who told me that since one of the drivers had called in sick, they instead sent a van…and I had to wait for 6 other passengers (going to a number of hotels) who would join me in the van…also their flight had not yet disgorged its contents and I was meant to wait.
After informing him I paid to be driven to my hotel, not to wait around for 6 strangers for an undetermined amount of time, he seemed confused as to why the prospect of waiting around angered me. I told him I’d been traveling for nearly two days and just wanted to leave. He said he had no idea how long the other 6 people would be. I told him to stuff it, tell his company to refund my money and I went in search of an ATM and the taxi line.
One outrageously expensive taxi ride later (receipt printed and sent to the offending car company for payment), I was at the Shangri-La and not in a good mood.
The staff were super and they instantly turned my mood around. Check in was a breeze, and despite arriving in the morning, my early check-in request was heeded.
The hotel style is modern without feeling like a convention hotel, and the rooms, while not spectacular are perfectly comfortable and adequate and they offer great views of the harbor and the Opera House.
PROS: Excellent fitness center, great breakfast, decent bar on the 36th floor with nice views over Sydney, very courteous and helpful staff, convenient location right in the Rocks within walking distance of the Opera House and George St., great views of the bridge and Opera House from the room.
CONS: Huge hotel, so elevators can take forever, the Horizon Club is highly mediocre and absolutely not worth the money. Rooms are cookie cutter and aren’t any great shakes for their respective class as compared to like properties in other cities (this goes for the entry level rooms through the Presidential Suite).
OVERALL: I had a very good experience at this hotel. I would still give the Park Hyatt a go on my next trip to Sydney, but I would definitely have the Shangri-La as my #2 choice, well ahead of the Four Seasons.