The Old Clare occupies a prime spot in Chippendale, an inner-city suburb that’s recently had a lot of coin pumped into its regeneration: expect shiny new restaurants, galleries and shops for neighbours.
Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport (www.sydneyairport.com.au) is 7km away, a 20-minute drive. Big spenders might want to opt for the hotel’s limousine transfers ($115–$150 each way, depending on flight times).
Central Station, NSW’s busiest, is a short skip from the hotel. You can shuttle between suburbs, or get to the Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley and the South Coast and Highlands (www.sydneytrains.info).
The hotel is a 10-minute drive from the city centre. Valet parking is available from the Kensington Street entrance for $70 a night (first come, first served); the hotel has additional parking a short walk away.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel organises art exhibitions, music nights and more, but it’d be a crying shame to miss out on the brilliant surrounding area. The Old Clare is part of the Central Park urban renewal project, which includes two new parks, a shopping centre, public sculptures and several skyscrapers. Locals already love Daiso, in the shopping precinct, which has 200,000-plus treasures from Japan, almost all priced at $2.80 (random, we know). Looking for something more local? Head to the Brewery Yard Markets on the first and third Sunday of every month and haggle for street art, jewellery and vintage threads. Don’t miss White Rabbit Gallery, Judith Neilson’s eye-bogglingly beautiful, non-profit temple to 21st-century Chinese art, housed in a former knitting factory on Balfour Street. But stop for dumplings at the gallery’s teahouse first – you’ve got four floors to conquer, after all.
Ester Restaurant and Bar serves show-off cooking in a deliciously relaxed environment. Order the hasselback spuds and the ‘three milks’ dessert. Get your smoke on at LP’s Quality Meats, which champions all things barbecue in a casual, canteen-style setting. (Even the mashed potato with gravy is worth writing home about.) Pizza, beer jugs and a sociable garden: pub life doesn’t get more mellow than at the Rose Hotel on Cleveland Street. If you’re a little green around the gills from the night before, fix up with the English-style fried breakfast. Spice Alley, just behind the hotel, has a lovely, lantern-lit courtyard and a selection of diners serving pan-Asian fare.
You’ll find some of the best bread in Sydney (a tall order, but we’re standing by it) at Brickfields, a café/bakery on Cleveland Street that belongs to two master bakers: Simon Cancio and Paul Geshos. Get in early to nab the window seats. Australians take their coffee very seriously; see why with a pit-stop at the House Specialty Coffee (+61 (0)2 8957 4664), at Suite 9/9 Knox Street.
Nifty bar snacks (a whole menu dedicated to Philly cheese-steaks, chicken poppers with 13 herbs and spices), potent cocktails (the Charlie Chaplin: gin, apricot brandy, lime juice) and music nights: if there’s anything not to like about Freda’s at 109 Regent Street, we’re yet to discover it.