Republic 2, Sydney
What is it? A landmark of modernism that has changed the way Sydneysiders think about apartment living. Built on the site of an old pie factory, between 2000 and 2002, in the groovy inner-city village of Darlinghurst, Republic 2 was Sydney's first 'designer' apartment building and even the glossy brochure (featuring nude models) became a must-have collectible.
So lots of clean, white surfaces? Yes, and stacked sandstone, and aluminium and floor-to-ceiling glass that frames views of the city skyline. The multilevel project includes 40 one-bedroom units, 49 two-bedroom units and seven three-bedroom units, all wrapped around an elevated central swimming pool area. The apartment interiors have dated well and the high-end fittings (Kreon lighting and hand-polished Madinoz door hardware) are still better than anything else around.
I wish I could spend a night there. You're in luck. Recently, Apartment Two (top right) has become available for short-term stays. Located on the third floor, it is a dual-level abode with leafy views of Darlinghurst (inset) through its double-height glazing. Upstairs are two large bedrooms, below which are the living and dining areas and balcony. It's self-contained, with a super-sleek gourmet kitchen and internal laundry. We love the huge glass feature wall that looks over a bamboo garden. And the funky artwork is a nice touch. Throw in some Aveda toiletries as well as a plasma television, DVD player and iPod dock and you're ready to entertain.
What if I get bored? Not likely. You're in the heart of the most dynamic part of the city, an area of organic cafes, ethnic restaurants and eclectic shopping. If any of Sydney's myriad villages can be said to capture the city's very essence, it's this one. Darlo, as the locals know it, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, with no fewer than two dozen buildings listed on the Register of the National Estate. Darlo has become synonymous with gay culture, specifically the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the largest of its kind on the planet.
So I won't go hungry? Not a chance. Downstairs is Republic 2's piazza, where you'll find Universal, chef Christine Manfield's fine-dining restaurant. And you're just a five-minute walk from Forbes & Burton; a cafe that serves up seriously good Sydney breakfasts. Farther down the road you'll find Fish Face, offering what is arguably the city's best seafood, and the Almond Bar for Middle Eastern cuisine. Victoria Street is where most of the action happens. The hub is Bar Coluzzi, home of the strong espresso (don't even think of asking for decaf). Other popular haunts on the street include Tropicana Caffe, Gelato Messina and Sel Et Poivre - a French cafe where customers sip their lattes from bowls.
It's expensive, right? Not bad, considering you'll be staying in an apartment worth several million dollars in one of the world's greatest cities. Rates start from A$495 (HK$4,100) a night with a minimum two- night stay. Get another couple to share and it'll be a bargain. Plus you get full use of the pool, gym and sauna.
Apartment Two is located in Republic 2, 50 Burton Street, Darlinghurst, Sydney, Australia. Bookings can be made through Contemporary Hotels (tel: 61 2 9331 2881; www.contemporaryhotels.com.au).