First look: The biggest W in the world opens in Sydney

As many Sydneysiders told me during my short stay Down Under, the W Sydney hotel

As many Sydneysiders told me during my short stay Down Under, the W Sydney hotel has been a long time coming, marking the return of the brand to the city for the first time since 2007. There was an inevitable mix of excitement and intrigue as the largest W hotel in the world opened its doors to the public in October.

Because of its spot on our 40 most-anticipated hotel openings for 2023, we were eager to check out the W Sydney firsthand shortly after it opened in October. Here’s what the experience was like.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

Booking

As we head into the Australian summer, room rates start at 440 Australian dollars ($280) over the next few months.

As this is a Marriott Bonvoy property, I found rooms from January onward for as few as 40,000 Bonvoy points per night. That translates to a value of about 0.7 cents per dollar, well below TPG’s current valuation of 0.84 cents per Bonvoy point.

The hotel invited me to stay and cover its opening as part of an already-planned trip to Australia, so I spent two nights there in mid-October to see the festivities and check out the newly opened property. If you’re looking to stock up on Marriott points to redeem for your own stay, here are some of the credit cards to consider:

Location

If your goal is to be right in the city’s tourist hub, then this is your spot. The hotel is directly on Darling Harbour, home to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and near the bars and restaurants of Barangaroo. To see the most iconic of Sydney sights, I’d recommend following in my footsteps on a gentle but gorgeous 3-mile run along the water, where you will eventually reach the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.

One important note if you do plan on visiting: It can be quite tricky getting to and from the hotel using taxis. The hotel is so new that it isn’t yet registered on Google Maps, and its position between two highways means cars have to navigate some strange turns to reach the entrance. If you are staying soon, ensure you search for “31 Wheat Road” and not “W Hotel,” and ask the driver to look carefully for the sign for the left turn to “Hotel Entrance.” It’s also worth noting that the hotel is in the Darling Harbour no-park zone for Lime bikes, and the closest place to pick up or drop off a bike is around a 5-minute walk from the entrance of the hotel.

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Architecture and design

The building that houses the hotel, which is known as the Ribbon, is quite striking and was designed by Australian architectural firm Hassell. The hotel interiors, inspired by Sydney’s sights, spirit and history, were designed by London-based Bowler James Brindley. The design throughout the hotel includes nods to the Australian character of the “larrikin,” a rowdy but good-hearted person, and the fuchsia Australian waratah flower, which I was told was in season during my stay.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

Lobby and check-in

I arrived at around 12.30 p.m. and was greeted by a giant glowing red W (this one definitely inspired by the waratah) at the door leading to a dramatically illuminated blue staircase and an escalator framed in reflective honeycombed copper, a reference to Sydney’s railway tunnels, up to the first floor where the main reception is located. You can guarantee that many a selfie will be taken right here.

The lobby includes a social space and bar known as the Living Room, where you’ll find not only a menu full of sake, soju and Asian small bites, but also a fun and relaxing vibe that permeates the entire lobby area. There is a central circular bar and plenty of cozy, nest-inspired lounging areas where you can catch up with friends or new acquaintances.

There are multiple desks in the lobby, which were all staffed, and the check-in formalities were quickly completed.

The room

There are 585 rooms in the hotel. I was assigned Room 1540, a Spectacular King room with views of Darling Harbour, which is two categories up from a standard Wonderful room. Due to the curvature of the hotel, no two rooms are exactly the same.

The guest hallways contain comfortable furniture and dramatic lighting, including some wonderful pink neon emus.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

My room contained an extremely comfortable king-size bed made up with white linens. There was a large and comfortable chaise lounge with a small side table and another dining-style table and chair. There was no formal desk or chair for working, which could pose a problem for some. There was a small separate walk-in wardrobe with funky red designs on the walls. This was handy but not quite big enough to fully open my trunk suitcase, so I had to keep that outside in the main part of the room.

On top of the bed was this particular W’s signature item, a very friendly looking and large stuffed shark, providing a fun and surprising element right in the center of the room.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

The room was also set up with a couple of welcome amenities: a large chocolate sculpture of a waratah flower, which I did my best to work through during my stay, and also a cocktail to try. The guiding decor scheme is meant to evoke Sydney’s harborfront, with various hues of blue and a rippling white wall alluding to the sails of the yachts plying the city’s waters.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

The W Mix Bar, which is in every room, is a stylish, mirrored freestanding fixture, well stocked with alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, snacks, a coffee machine and a kettle. There are also three pre-made cocktails created in conjunction with Sydney bar Maybe Sammy, including a jasmine negroni and an apricot martini.

Almost every room features a separate bathtub and shower in the bathroom, and the tub in mine was round and enormous. The bathroom was stocked with large pump bottles of Skin Regimen hand wash and lotion and Momo products in the shower, as is the current W brand standard.

The TV was huge at 55 inches and easy to use; I often find the Chromecast feature clunky, but here it was efficient and simple, and I had my David Beckham Netflix documentary playing on the big screen in no time.

I was also given a quick tour of a couple of the suites. One was a standard suite with a large seating area and a bedroom that was similar to the one that I was staying in, and the other room was more of a studio or residence that included a handy kitchenette, which would be great for longer stays or families.

Food and beverage

The hotel fields four different dining and bar options in total. I tried out Btwn first, on the lower levels of the hotel, which embraces its position between the two highway offramps — it sounds stressful, but it was actually quite calming being right by the glass watching cars rushing by.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

I ate lunch here on my first day and tried a few different items on the inventive menu, which has a big focus on New South Wales-sourced ingredients. My favorite and absolute standout dish was the kangaroo cheeseburger tartare set on top of a hash brown ($9). It was an unexpected concoction but absolutely delicious. Another special mention for the pastrami-spiced tuna tataki, which was a crossover between Japanese raw-fish goodness and a Jewish deli-style Reuben ($22).

Breakfast is also served each morning in Btwn with the usual selection of breads, cereals, yogurts and fruit, and a number of hot options. Everything was presented well and was fresh and tasty. A particularly nice touch was the delicious fresh cold-pressed juices in cute bottles lined up on shelves, ready to grab.

That’s not all; guests will also find 2am: dessertbar, Singaporean chef Janice Wong’s lively late-night spot, and 29/30, a two-level bar with harbor views. Finally, Level 30 Above serves cocktails and vintage Champagnes and is designed to look and feel like the deck of a superyacht.

I ordered food from Wet Deck out by the pool and modified the fried eggplant sandwich on offer by adding a piece of fried chicken. The result was crunchy, juicy and delicious. Rounded off with a portion of fries, it was the perfect poolside lunch.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

Other amenities

The most impressive feature of W Sydney is the 30-meter open-air infinity rooftop pool, known as the Wet Deck.

NICKY KELVIN/THE POINTS GUY

Guests will find a selection of comfortable loungers and sofas surrounding the pool, as well as a giant jellyfish motif made from glass mosaic tiles and incredible views of Darling Harbour.

The gym is very well equipped with a variety of Technogym cardio and weight machines, and the stunning Away Spa has five treatment rooms and some unique, circular relaxation loungers and booths for mani-pedis, and even a bar for those who like a tipple and a chat during their experience. There is a wide range of treatments available, including 60-minute massages from $158.

Overall impression

Although the W Sydney has only been open for a short period of time, it seems to have truly hit the ground running. If you like the W brand and how it’s evolving to incorporate more of a specific sense of place in each new property, you will absolutely love the W Sydney.

The location is not for everyone, but certainly convenient for both business and leisure travelers. I would usually choose a hotel in a more relaxed and low-key area, and coming from Chippendale in Sydney right before this stay, it was quite the gear change, but not in a bad way. Rather, it imbued my visit with a buzzier energy and a nod to all things Australian with a contemporary twist.

With very comfortable rooms and fantastic amenities (especially the dramatic rooftop pool), inventive food and a gorgeous spa, there is likely something for everyone here, especially those looking for a cheeky and glitzy stay in Sydney.

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