What is it? The only five-star hotel in Sydney outside the central business district, the InterContinental is located in the well-heeled harbourside suburb of Double Bay. It is a A$25 million (HK$148 million) revamp of the old Ritz-Carlton; a marble-lined palace that once hosted a who's who of international A-listers including Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, Elton John and Princess Diana. Hang on … isn't this where Michael Hutchence died? Yep, in 1997, the INXS frontman and ex-King George V (Kowloon) schoolboy met his grisly end in room 524, putting the Ritz-Carlton on the global map for all the wrong reasons. Understandably, the new hotel is keen to distance itself from that tragic event. In fact, the room numbers have all been changed and staff will artfully deflect any questions about the incident. Moving right along … cutting-edge design? We'd call it contemporary glamour, rather than groundbreaking. You enter the hotel through a porte-cochere, where the valets are busy parking Porsches, Mercs and Ferraris. Step through the gilded elevator doors and take the lift up to level one, which opens out into a massive Italian marble lobby (above). The walls are clad in white timber panelling and the mouldings and cornices picked out in the same grey hues found in the veins of the marble. How about the guest rooms? There are 140 of them. Some look over leafy Double Bay village while 29 have views of the internal courtyard (above). The best suites are the 37 Bay View rooms, which - as the name suggests - overlook one of Sydney Harbour's most glistening bays. Rooms are light and airy and feature the original white marble bathrooms, albeit substantially updated. I'd like to stay in the room where Princess Diana and Madonna slept. Well, that would be the Royal Suite, with its four balconies facing the bay. It's 175 square metres of pure opulence, including a large bathroom with spa tub, a study, a dining room for eight guests, a lounge area and a butler's kitchen with a separate entrance; let's face it, nobody likes having to fraternise with the hired help. Will I go hungry? Not likely. The hotel has just one restaurant but it's a decent one. The Stockroom uses fresh seasonal produce to create a menu of Mod Oz cuisine. Chef Julien Pouteau has created a grazing menu of Australian beef, seafood and chicken that won't disappoint. Or go straight for dessert and the Parisian-inspired almond pastille with buttermilk, white chocolate and honeycomb. Bliss. Will I go thirsty, then? Not if you like fermented juniper berries you won't. Stillery is the hotel's marble and leather gin bar, serving more than 60 types. It's a beautifully swellegant space in which to get smashed, with deep tub lounge chairs and arched windows looking out over Double Bay. I wouldn't mind a dip. Then take the elevator to the rooftop pool and bar. We love the stacked sandstone feature walls and the infinity edge provides a super view of the yacht-dotted bay. If you want to really chill out, arrive early and nab one of the private cabanas. The pool is a tad shallow and not terribly long; it exists more to show off beautiful people in various states of undress than as a place to try out your backstroke and reverse pike. What's there to do in the area? Lots, especially if you enjoy high-end shopping. Double Bay is known locally as "Double Pay" because of the expensive boutiques that populate the Euro-style tree-lined boulevards. There was a time when the village resembled a ghost town, with a nearby Westfield shopping mall sucking the life out of it. But there has been a renaissance over the past year or two (helped along by the InterContinental) and "DB" is now a hot spot in its own right. Transvaal Avenue is like a miniature Rodeo Drive, and recent restaurant and café openings (Vine and Filosofy, for example) have given its upmarket shoppers somewhere suitable to eat. There are also lovely coastal walks to be had in the area and a few world-class harbour beaches nearby (Nielsen Park being the pick of them). So what's the damage? Rooms start from A$390 (HK$2,300) per night. The Royal Suite will set you back a cool A$5,500. For further details, visit www.ihg.com .