Fishing for Compliments

The Sebel Surry Hills Sydney:

28 Albion St, Surry Hills, NSW
(02) 9289 0000 or

After all these years the name Sebel still has the ring of louche abandonment about it. Of course, I’m referring to the now defunct Sebel Townhouse in Elizabeth Bay, the notorious rookery for the ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’. Its dark, pokey bar was famous for chance meetings. In one corner you might have Benny Hill sipping a sherbet with Paul Simon, in another, a chain smoking Keith Richards might be handing the beer nuts to Brett Whiteley, while you’re just as likely to see Elton John ordering a round of tequila shots for Mother Theresa… or so the legend might go, possibly. The Sebel Surry Hills Sydney, formerly known as The Citigate Sebel, has just completed a $20m refurbishment to become Sydney’s latest 4.5 star hotel. And, it’s savvy enough to realise it could do with some of that Townhouse zest and vigour, which is no doubt why its Townhouse Bar is festooned with autographed black and white images of the great, the good and the seedy taken from the old hotel. It’s a significant and good-looking refurb masterminded by Michael Munro from Hosking Munro architects and was recently named the ‘Redeveloped Hotel of the Year’ at the 2009 AHA NSW Awards. Chief among the new ‘you what?’ selling points is an in-ground 10m-long, 41,000-litre aquarium in the lobby. Guests can wander over the fish tank — gingerly at first, as the fear of ‘falling in’ is only human — and coo over the 20 Japanese Koi fish including the hotel’s mascot Albie. The General Manager of the Sebel Surry Hills Michael Sheridan said the in-ground aquarium has become a unique point of interest. “The idea for the in-ground aquarium came from hotel owner, Dr Jerry Schwartz who, due to his passion for all things acquatic, uses fish tanks in his properties as his special signature. Specialists were called in to draw up the plans of the aquarium and ultimately install it,” added Michael Sheridan. The refurbishment included an overhaul of the 270 guest rooms, all of which now include king ‘Cloud’ beds. The rooms feature big tellies, modern timber furniture, new custom-designed sofas and spacious bathrooms. The 10 conference rooms have also been revitalised. Catering for groups from 10 to 220 delegates, these rooms offer natural lighting, double-glazed windows, spacious breakout areas and state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities with dedicated in-house AV specialists. The 20m indoor swimming pool, heated spa and sauna have also been smartened up. The pool area features several large skylights which effectively brighten the area with natural lighting.

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