Review: Bang for your buck at Crown Towers Sydney

It starts with the striking chandelier in the foyer. It is so large that you’d be forgiven for not knowing it is a chandelier. But it is. In fact, it is the largest one in the Southern Hemisphere with 396 crystal-clad blades along its almost eight-metre length. Designed by leading glass manufacturer, Preciosa, it is the first sign that this is going to be a hotel delivering wow factor in spades.

Crown Sydney aerial view
Aerial view of Crown Sydney © FloodSlicer Pty Ltd

The room

After checking in, we are taken up the no-touch lifts to our room. Once we reach our floor, we have look out the harbourside windows near the lifts and jaws drop again as we see the pools down below. 

This view, perhaps more than any other, showcases the prime location of Crown Towers Sydney at Barangaroo. The two pools, the Barangaroo Wharf, the Australian National Maritime Museum and Darling Harbour are all clearly visible, as is Balmain and the Parramatta River to the west. We are keen to try the pool for ourselves, but first – the suite.

We peel our noses off the glass before being wowed all over again as the door opens to our Executive Harbour Bridge View Suite, one of 349 rooms at Crown Towers Sydney. Once again, our mouths hang open as we check out the space and are shown the various high-tech tricks in the room.

And what a sweet suite it is. The large living room with its blue and cream palate sweeps to floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the harbour and the city views into the space. The curving lounge is gorgeous, a dining table sits four and the desk is large with everything you need to plug in to work – should you have to. The TV sits in a lovely wall unit that also houses some carefully selected artworks, and the bar area has a decent selection of drinks including Archie Rose Gin and Johnnie Walker Black Label Whisky, and snacks. Looking out the window we can see the Harbour Bridge, Cockatoo Island, Luna Park and the myriad boats chugging this way and that on the water.

Suite © Helen Hayes

The bedroom is off the living room and the king bed looks like it could well be the most comfortable thing I have ever slept in – and turns out to be just that. Off to the side, a mirrored robe cleverly reflects the view out the window and deflects a bit of the building structure that makes things a little cramped in that corner, but manageable.

Into the bathroom and my head is on a swivel. Do I look at the sexy egg-shaped bath that has a TV built in the wall, the beautiful robes hanging side by side or the dual sinks in the vanity complete with Crown Alchemist amenities? Pushing open the toilet door, our host waves me in and voile! Up goes the toilet seat as if giving a smiley greeting. Having been in Japan several times, these Toto toilets are always impressive, with the heated seat and push-button controls for everything, making daily ablutions quite entertaining. The shower room – and it is big enough to be called a room –features a massive square rain shower head and smaller nozzles on the wall. You could fit quite a few people in there should the need arise!

As for the technology, the smart tablet controls lights, blinds, television and guest services, and there are other buttons for the various things around the room.

The bathroom
Bathroom © Helen Hayes

The pool

Ah, the pool. I am not a lay-by-the-pool person. I like swimming in a pool or sitting in the shade by a pool reading a book. However you pool, you are catered for here. The pool has a number of day beds that are half in, half out of the water, deck chairs all around, and secluded cabanas that you must book ahead and come at a cost.

The guest pool stretches out from the base of the curving glamazon building giving a wonderful view up. In fact, it is quite mesmerising standing in said pool, looking skywards at the spectacular piece of grand architecture looming above. Then there are the harbour views as the busy waterway abuts the pool deck. Because everyone likes drinks by a pool, there is a bar offering food as well as drinks, along with a towel desk. My tip to enjoy the pool is to go early, or late, as it can get busy on a warm day. Why wouldn’t it, when it is so appealing.

There is another pool on a higher level, but that is for residents only. There are 82 residences on the upper floors of the building, ranging from two to six bedrooms.

Crown Sydney pool
Relaxing by the pool © FloodSlicer Pty Ltd

The restaurants

The Crown has not only made a massive impact on the city skyline with its graceful, curved tower. It has significantly boosted the coffers of the dining scene. And I mean significantly.  We tested a few of them, starting with a cocktail at TWR (The Waiting Room), the spectacular lobby bar that spills out onto the terrace. We sit outside, agonising over the full beverage list, before ordering my favourite summer drink – a pina colada. It wasn’t on the menu, but it wasn’t a problem. I blame the pool for putting me in the pina colada mood. TWR is beautiful, with an elegant interior and casual terrace. It morphs perfectly from a casual lounge during the day to a sophisticated bar at night.

Dinner was at a’Mare, the newest Sydney restaurant of acclaimed Ormeggio Chef and Restaurateur Alessandro Pavoni. Again, the restaurant has a delightful interior and an outdoor terrace. No matter where you sit you will enjoy classic Italian food with a nod to our amazing seafood, conjured up by the maestro himself. There is a bit of theatre about a’Mare, with some dishes, such as pesto, prepared at the table with great flair by men in tuxedos. I loved the Casoncelli, filled with pumpkin, hazelnut, sage and Parmigiano Reggiano, while my husband had the Pesce intero alla brace, a whole fish caught ethically and sustainably and served with puttanesca salsa of olives, tomato, capers and oregano burnt butter. Big thumbs up from both of us.

Charcoal cooking at Woodcut restaurant
Charcoal cooking

Breakfast was at Epicurean (open to guests only for breakfast), and this place is quite astounding. There are nine separate live kitchens, all open so you can see the hard-working team doing their thing. While it is a buffet, it is not as you know it – you decide what you want, and they serve it to you with a smile. As we had had a big dinner the night before, I ordered poached eggs at the table. I will definitely go back for lunch or dinner though, as there is every kind of food you could possibly have, and then some. And I did have my eye on the decadent dessert bar, complete with a chocolate fountain.

My culinary highlight was lunch, at the stunning Woodcut. This restaurant is a ten-year work in progress for Ross and Sunny Lusted and features four open kitchens in oak, focussing on fire, ice, smoke and steam. Again, it has an interior and an exterior by the harbour, and we choose to sit inside so we can watch the chefs in action. I order the ‘Brick’ Chicken with lime and barberries, served in the frypan in which it was cooked. The chicken is literally squashed with a brick-like object that creates a divine sauce packed to the gunnels with please-sir-can-I-have-some-more flavour. My partner is equally impressed with the Raw Fish Plate consisting of tuna, trout and kingfish, along with pear and capers in a chardonnay dressing.

Woodcut Restaurant
Woodcut © James D Morgan/Getty Images

It was a shame, or perhaps good for the waistline, that we didn’t get to sample the other restaurants and bars. We did check them out though, starting off with The Teahouse, a spectacularly Instagrammable bar with its lantern-shaped booths. Silks is a Cantonese fine dining restaurant, 88 Noodle has a striking interior and a ‘hawker-inspired’ menu to match, and then there is the one and only Nobu by Nobu Matsuhisa, and the 12-seat only Yoshii’s Omakase, prepared by Chef Yoshii himself.

Joining the above will be the first Australian restaurant by Clare Smyth. Clare’s UK restaurant, Core, garnered three Michelin stars since it opened, making Clare the first and only woman to run a three-Michelin starred restaurant in the UK. On Core by Clare Smyth will open mid-year on the 24th floor, ensuring amazing views to match the quality of the cuisine. Il Caffé – an Italian café and pizzeria and the Neat Peat Whiskey Bar will be the place for a nip or two on level 26.

The newest bar to turn heads is the Cirq Rooftop Bar & Lounge. On level 26, this bar has a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and arguably the best view in town over the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. You’ll need to book ahead.

Silks © James D Morgan/Getty Images

Other facilities

Crown Sydney also has one of the best spas in the city, a 2000 square meter spa that has turned Sydney’s spa and wellness up a notch or three. The Fitness Centre is next door to the Spa and has the full kit of TechnoGym equipment with perhaps one of the best views of any gym in town. It also offers tailor-made programs, personal training sessions, couples training or group classes’ which are ideal for any fitness level. There is also a full-size tennis court. And for lovers of pearls, Paspaley is on the ground floor and other designer shops will be joining it.

Crown Spa
Crown Spa © George Apostolidis

The verdict

Crown Towers Sydney is Sydney’s first six-star property, and it lives up to the hype. At the very least, try the restaurants and bars, book in for a spa treatment and if you can, treat yourself to a night or two for a super-luxe staycation. It will be worth it.

Entrance of Crown Sydney
The entrance © FloodSlicer Pty Ltd

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