A truly affordable hotel in Sydney, with stylish decor, great location and in-house snazzy brasserie?
If the notion of affordable starts from a walk-in rate of $155 (cheaper with last-minute website specials), then the Metro definitely is it.
Located at 300 Pitt St, at the city's southern end, the Metro is a skip from George St's cinema precinct, Darling Harbour and Chinatown.
The city buses are on its doorstep, and it's a short stroll to Central or Town Hall stations.
And as the hotel's Gary Long points out, if guests are arriving from Sydney airport via shuttle bus, it is among the first few stops on the round-city route.
Formerly the Pentura on Pitt, Metro Hotels (with properties in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, plus a clutch of Metro Inns in suburban Sydney) took over the property in August 2003 and a gradual refurbishment has taken place, with most rooms already freshened-up with new soft furnishings, carpets and desk and bedside lighting.
The palette is autumnal, in russets and deep pinks. The addition of pretty jacquard cushions, silk bed throws, generous curtains, pure cotton sheets, extra-squashy pillows, television with Foxtel channels and pay movies and the latest in-room internet technology places the Metro well above the mid-city four-star norm.
Long says the 115-room hotel is popular with pollies and visiting Canberra diplomats who like its unobtrusiveness, there's no big see-and-be-seen lobby or inclination to dress up.
Room service can be ordered until 10pm from the licensed Paradiso cafe and bar menu (soups, oysters, grills and daily specials) and a computerised guest card gives access to self-service alcohol and soft drinks from vending machines situated in several locations over the hotel's seven storeys.
There is a 24-hour reception and a full stand of maps and touring brochures.
The 68 standard rooms are very small, more a hit-the-pillow kind of accommodation, but the superior queen and king spa rooms (the latter with Jacuzzi tub) are spacious. Some executive deluxe configurations have a separate but fairly cramped living area with a sofa bed that could easily convert to almost a cubby nook for children or mini den for teens complete with separate bathroom.
This is no glamour hideaway but a well-maintained and comfortable hotel with far more roominess and style than its outward appearance would suggest.
Sydney needs more such places where being on a budget need not mean no space to budge.
Tariff: From $140 if booked via website; rates depend on availability.
Getting there: Five-minute walk from Central Station; 25 minutes by taxi from Sydney airport. Hotel guests qualify for discount rates with Red Spot Car Rentals; www.redspotcarrentals.com.au
Checking in: Corporate guests during the week; leisure on weekends. Popular with European, UK and north American tourists.
Stepping out: Quick walk to Chinatown, Darling Harbour, mid-city shops, entertainment district and Hyde Park. Public transportation virtually at the door.
Bouquets: All rooms are non-smoking; rooms at the front are well soundproofed against busy Pitt St traffic. Friendly front-desk staff.
Susan Kurosawa, Travel Editor
The Australian, 22 May 2005
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