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Photo: Primus Hotel Sydney

Review: Primus Hotel Sydney

Occupying the former home of the Sydney Water Board at 339 Pitt Street, Primus Hotel Sydney is the newest boutique hotel to enter the vibrant Sydney hotel scene. But what makes this hotel stand out from the pack is its desire to preserve and celebrate its architectural past – not simply erase it.

Built by Howie Moffat & Co back in 1939, the building is one of the most intriguing examples of Art Deco architecture in Sydney, though you may not realise it from the outside alone. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ve walked past the building a hundred times and never given it a second glance.

Photo: Chris Ashton

Behind the hotel’s imposing doors, it’s a completely different world.

The moment you enter, you’re transported back in time to the 1930s – a golden age of Art Deco design and Hollywood glamour. Towering ceilings, white marble floors and 8m-high red scagliola columns set the scene.

The soaring lobby is stunning; it’s at once ostentatious and understated. Plush velvet sofas and leather armchairs soften the scene, creating intimate seating areas for guests to relax and take in the Art Deco décor.

Photo: Primus Hotel Sydney

On the far side of the lobby is The Wilmot, a 120-seat restaurant with navy and wine coloured horseshoe booths, white marble partitions and parquet flooring. The open kitchen will be a definite hit for cooking show fans.

Historic images around the perimeter of the lobby celebrate the hotel’s past life as a working office, and also reveal just how much of the space has been modified – very little. The building refurbishment was very heritage-sensitive, with a team of craftsman toiling away for two years to bring this architectural icon back to its former glory – and then some.

Photo: Chris Ashton

Primus Hotel Sydney features 172 glamorous rooms and suites across six levels. Pushing open the door to your guest room, you might half expect to find Leonardo DiCaprio flashing his best Great Gatsby smile and handing over a glass (or bottle) of French champagne. He won’t be, of course, but everything else about the room lives up to the grandeur of that film.

Each of the naturally light-filled rooms is furnished with royal navy and cream fabrics, dark timber oak joinery, and polished brass trimmings. The ARt Deco styling continues in the ensuite, where you’ll find handmade subway tiles, a deep soaking bath tub, and glamorous black tap ware.

Photo: Primus Hotel Sydney

It’s a very tactile guest space, with every surface calling out to be touched.

Creature comforts include free wifi internet access, 24 hour in-room dining, a Nespresso coffee machine, mini bar, two flat screen televisions, and amenities by organic Australian skin care brand Appelles Apothecary.

Photo: Primus Hotel Sydney

The glamor continues throughout the hotel, including the hallways so often overlooked by other brands. Plaques strategically placed near the elevators reveal the former use of the level you’re on. The third floor, for example, was once home to upper echelons of the SWB, such as the Engineer-in-Chief.

On the top floor however is where you’ll find the hotel’s crowning glory – a guests-only New York-style rooftop oasis complete with 20m lap pool, lounge seating, and a very trendy bar. When the sun is setting over Sydney, the sunshine reflecting off surrounding towers, this is where you want to be.

Photo: Chris Ashton

Shining a light on the hotel’s history again, one of the fascinating former uses of this rooftop was as a rifle range during World War II. As part of the local war effort, the staff recreation area located on the building’s rooftop was, for a time, converted into a rifle range.

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Daniel Muhor, GM of the Primus Hotel Sydney, says the public response to the hotel has been overwhelmingly positive, with its connection to the past a key strength.

“A lot of people knew this building and its history, and they’re curious to see what’s it’s become,” Muhor says.

“We had one man come in recently, staff spotted him just staring into a corner and asked if he was alright. He replied that that corner used to be his office space. People are amazed how the building has been reborn.”

Photo: State Library of New South Wales
Photo: State Library of New South Wales

Primus Hotel marks the entrance of Greenland International Hotels Group into Australia and is the first completed accommodation offering from the group. The creation of a new laneway will connect Primus Hotel Sydney with its neighboring landmark tower, the Greenland Centre.

Though it’s early days for the five-star hotel, given the response from guests so far, it won’t be long until Primus Hotel is classed as one of the city’s best.

Learn more about Primus Hotel Sydney.

Check live rates at Booking.com

– I stayed at my own expense.

Chris Ashton

We’re Chris Ashton and Simon Ceglinski, two Aussie travellers with a love of exploration and adventure, and the odd bit of luxury thrown in. We seek out street art, street food, and scuba diving wherever we go, and prefer the road less travelled over well-worn tourist paths.

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