What and where is it? Heritage meets funky at this glam new hotel on Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf (above). Its 100 guest rooms, ranging from a “suparoo” double overlooking the street to an “ultraroo” loft apartment, with city and wharf views, are all decorated in a style best described as cool with a side of humour.
How so? Sassy quotes are lit up in neon scroll, esoterically framed prints brighten the walls, and cushions in expensive fabrics are slung casually onto designer chairs. The quirky mixture of furniture makes you feel as if you’re sleeping over at the house of a hip architect.
Woolloomooloo Wharf has a fantastic name, but what is it? Jutting into Sydney Harbour and also known as Finger Wharf, this wonderful building is the longest timber-piled quay in the world. It was built 101 years ago and has operated variously as a wool-processing centre, a naval hub and an immigration arrivals point. It closed in 1970 and sat derelict for two decades until it was reimagined as a complex of restaurants, apartments and, now, the Ovolo.
Woolloomooloo was the name of the homestead and property that originally occupied this inner-city suburb. Its exact origins are unclear but it is most likely an anglicised derivative of the Aboriginal words wala-mala, meaning “burial ground” or, more fittingly, wallamullah, meaning “place of plenty”.
What are the local restaurants and bars like? Those in Woolloomooloo Wharf are some of the best in Sydney. Sit waterside at China Doll for Aussie-Asian fusion, or down a schooner or two of beer at The Tilbury bar. Ovolo’s lofty Lo Lounge is filled with contemporary art, decorative light fittings and stools, chairs and couches. Breakfast is included, as are happy-hour drinks at the bar.
What else is included?Unusually for Australian hotels, the contents of Ovolo’s in-room minibar, including craft beers and local wines, are complimentary, as is the super-fast Wi-fi, and a cute popcorn snack pack and tote bag. Then there’s the art. Ovolo has partnered with local government initiative Artbank to display some impressive Australian works, among them Hannah Cutts’ bold and sexy If at First You Don’t Succeed (2014; below), a wry take on the innuendo of daily life. Dress Me Up (2006) is a big, bold painting by Sydney’s Lara Merrett. Your room rate may even include a glimpse of actor Russell Crowe, who lives in one of the wharf apartments.
What’s nearby? It’s a 10-minute walk to the city centre, past the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and through the bird-thronged Royal Botanic Garden. A longer stroll takes you via Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a bench carved into a sandstone rock that offers spectacular harbour and Opera House views.
Ovolo – why do I know that name? Ovolo is a family-owned Hong Kong brand with five hotels and serviced-apartment complexes in Hong Kong, and three hotels in Australia.
What’s the bottom line? Double rooms start from A$305 (HK$1,775), including breakfast. Visit www.ovolohotels.com for details.