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REVIEW – Qatar Airways : Business Class – Doha DOH to Sydney SYD (A380)
December 14, 2018
REVIEW – Park Hyatt Sydney : Opera Deluxe Room
January 26, 2019

REVIEW – Shangri-La Sydney : Deluxe Grand Harbour View Room

Shangri-La Sydney

  • Location: Sydney
  • Rate: 375AUD (with benefits via Amex FHR)
  • Room Type: Deluxe Grand Harbour View Room
  • Chain: Shangri-La
  • Loyalty Program: Golden Circle
  • Status during stay: Jade (via Amex Platinum)
  • Date of stay: October 2016


Intro


Given that we were arriving late into Sydney I decided to look for somewhere close to the Park Hyatt, where we’d be spending the following four nights, without breaking the bank.

Sydney is an interesting city for hotels. The area around the Opera House has a number of options around the 350AUD mark: a Four Seasons – which many say is the worst in the entire portfolio; an Intercontinental – which has a Club Lounge that is widely praised but also has some very basic looking rooms, and the hotel I decided on: The Shangri-La.

Shangri-La Sydney as seen from Circular Quay

Shangri-La Sydney as seen from Circular Quay

None of these hotels are particularly modern and none were going to be in the same league as the Park Hyatt, however my limited exposure to Shangri-La has been very positive. They have a beautiful property at the top of The Shard in London and the buffet at the Shang in Shanghai is the stuff of dreams. Quite possibly the single greatest display of food I have ever seen in my life. Even better than the Wynn in Vegas 😁

All three hotels offered the standard Amex Platinum FHR benefits, which offer remarkable value on a one night stay:

  • $100 USD dining credit (effectively a 40% rebate)
  • guaranteed 4pm checkout
  • room upgrade subject to availability
  • Free breakfast for two people

What swayed my choice is that I could book a room one category below an Opera House view at the Shangri-La for cheaper, the breakfast here looked to be the best and the in house bars and restaurants at the Shangri-La were a more alluring place for me to spend the dining credit.

I also have Jade status with Shangri-La as a benefit of my Amex Platinum card and was hoping that this would stack with the FHR benefits to get me a double upgrade (Four Seasons doesn’t have a proper loyalty program and IHG… well you could argue that they don’t either 😂)

However you look at it: 375AUD for a 5* hotel room with full harbour view, dinner for two and breakfast for two, is borderline larcenous.

 


Arrival


We took an Uber from Sydney airport which was quick, cheap and relatively simple. Uber has a designated parking lot area for pickups which is a 5 minute walk from International Arrivals.

shangrila sydney lobby

The area immediately next to the check-in desks features modern furniture and cool carpets


shangrila sydney lobby

However the rest of the lobby is a bit dark, old fashioned and sterile.

Check-in was very quick and efficient, with a full list of our FHR benefits detailed to us. The front desk agent explained to us that the 100USD credit was good for whatever we wanted to charge to the room, other than tips and minibar expenses. He also explained that we had indeed received a double upgrade to Deluxe Sydney Harbour Room. We were not escorted to the room but our bags did follow a couple of minutes after we settled in.

We actually received the Virtuoso letter by mistake which features almost identical benefits to FHR, the difference being that FHR also guarantees 4pm late check out.


shangrila sydney decor

The hallways have interesting carpets and lights but the overall feel of the public spaces is rather beige, drab and tired. A little contrasting colour and some plants would go a long way here.

 


The Room


shangrila sydney

Our door opened straight out onto a wardrobe containing a pair of very fluffy dressing gowns and an iron.

 

shangrila sydney review

I feel like the carpet really helped to liven the place up, moving the decor from stuffy to elegant. The bed was very comfortable, firm underneath with a softer upper layer. The large feather pillows held their shape well too. Despite the rather low ceiling, our room felt quite bright given the abundance of lamps, and benefited from two large windows for natural light during the day.

Speaking of which, the view during the day is quite something:

 

 

shangrila sydney review

Universal power sockets and well labelled light switches next to the bed. We arrived after turndown, where bottled water was provided.


shangrila sydney review

The side furthest from the window didn’t have an easily accessible power socket (is it just me or do hotel designers do things like this just to see if they can cause arguments over who gets the ‘best side’?😅)


shangrila sydney review

In addition to measuring 45-50m2 the deluxe rooms also feature a small sitting area, which moves them more towards the realms of a junior suite


shangrila sydney review

On the other side of the bed we had a make up/ vanity area as well as the minibar.


shangrila sydney review

Thankfully the vanity area had ample power supply for hair dryers etc.


shangrila sydney review

The minibar selection was on the lower end. I can’t remember the last time I stayed in a 5* hotel that didn’t stock champagne in the room. Although to be fair I also can’t think of a time I’ve ever taken champagne from a hotel minibar…


shangrila Sydney

The TV seemed a little undersized and low res for a modern hotel, the HDMI port was easily accessible though, which for me is a must when travelling with my laptop and Netflix.


shangrila sydney deluxe bathroom

The bathroom was quite compact and only featured a single sink. I have to say I’m not  a fan of having a separate hot and cold tap, it just seems pointlessly inconvenient since the technology has now been invented to achieve your desired temperature from a single tap.

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The fixtures were quite high-end though and actually rather reminiscent of an English countryside hotel. I particularly appreciated having a separate bath and shower. The shower had a high pressure but was not without problems of its own. The temperature oscillated seemingly at random between scalding hot and ice cold. A millimetric turn of the tap would only exacerbate things…

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shangrila SYD-20

A wide range of L’Occitane toiletries were provided. I like when things like toothbrushes are readily available in the room, rather than having to call for them late at night.

 


Food and Drink


Dinner

Our first port of call after settling into our room was the hotel’s casual dining option: Café Mix, located on the 1st floor. This is also the location of the morning breakfast buffet.

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The room was a little depressing, with few tables occupied, but the service was sincere and friendly. The food was the typical Pan Asian fare although some effort had been made with regards to the presentation. The Som Tam (Papaya Salad) came in a bag labeled ‘Shake Me’ but was woefully under-spiced for what is usually one of the more ferocious staples of Northern Thai cuisine. The Pork ribs were chewy but the pork neck kurobata was excellent.

The bill came to around 100AUD, which left us with 40 AUD of credit still to spend.

Breakfast

shangrila sydney breakfast

We went to breakfast at around 9am and didn’t find it to be overly busy. There was an area by the entrance providing complimentary take away coffee and fruit for people who didn’t have time to sit down to a full meal.


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Our server escorted us over to a table by the window and handed us a menu each. I find it needlessly disruptive when you are forced to line up at a buffet ‘cooking station’, it wastes your time and creates an unnecessary blockage to the flow of people. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see a variety of a la carte options offered via table service. I can’t say I was overly tempted by the $9 juice though…

The buffet breakfast was very good – better than what you see in most European 5* hotels. A lot of items were freshly prepared in house, rather than being brought in mass produced. I particularly liked the range on offer, there were multiple options within each category of breakfast food: cold cuts, fruit, cereal etc.

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A wide variety of cereals, including a freshly made bircher muesli. The house cured salmon was delicious and came with a variety of garnishes including my favourite giant caper berries.

shangrila sydney breakfast

Make your own porridge


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shangrila SYD-47

Miso Soup and Spring Rolls

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Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, beans and tomatoes. Be warned though, this is English style lean back bacon not the crispy US variety.

shangrila sydney breakfast

You’re not fooling anybody. This is pizza and burgers for breakfast… and I like it!


shangrila sydney breakfast

Carb festival


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Fresh fruit, cheese and honey

shangrila sydney breakfast

I tried to keep things as healthy as possible but couldn’t resist the papaya juice and the hash brown. The strong flat white was excellent and a refill was offered very quickly after I finished my first.

Lunch

After a morning spent strolling around the botanical gardens we returned to the hotel to check-out. With around 40AUD of credit still to spend, we ordered some salads to enjoy on the Lobby Lounge’s outdoor terrace.

shangrila sydney breakfast

The salads were super fresh and bursting with flavour, easily as good as what you’d find in one of Sydney’s many third wave coffee shops.

 


Conclusion


Basics Checklist

  • Power sockets near the bed
  • Easy to understand light switches
  • Coffee Machine
  • Separate shower and bath
  • Stable, fast and free Wifi
  • Feather pillows
  • Quiet and powerful aircon

This is not the most modern hotel and is not somewhere you’d really come to enjoy the public spaces. It has a destination bar on the 36th floor but tables aren’t reserved for hotel guests and it is extremely busy on weekends.

The rooms however are large and furnished to a high standard, with ample power sockets, a coffee machine and a very comfortable bed. The views of the Opera House and Harbour bridge are also very special indeed.

Having stayed at the Park Hyatt before this most certainly feels like second best but this is hardly a fair comparison when one hotel is four times the price of the other.

On a one night stay with FHR benefits this property offers spectacular value for money and if it fits your budget I would not hesitate to recommend it.


The time I flew round trip to Sydney for £1080 in business class

Part 1:
Qatar Airways: Business Class – B787 – Oslo to Doha
Part 2:
Qatar Airways: Business Class – A380 – Doha to Sydney
Part 3:
Shangrila Sydney : Deluxe Grand Harbour View Room
Part 4:
Park Hyatt Sydney : Opera Deluxe Room
Part 5:
Qantas Domestic Lounge : Sydney
Part 6:
Qantas : Business Class – A332 – Sydney to Melbourne
Part 7:
Grand Hyatt Melbourne : Grand Suite
Part 8:
Sights and food in Melbourne
Part 9:
Qantas Domestic Lounge : Melbourne
Part 10:
Qantas First Class Lounge : Sydney
Part 11:
Qatar Airways : First Class – A380 – Sydney to Doha
Part 12:
Qatar Al Safwa First Class Lounge : Doha

 

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2 Comments

  1. Jenn says:

    Love the Shangri-La. Couldn’t agree more about the buffet at the Shanghai-La Shanghai!!
    #travellikejarvis

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