Ovolo Hotel in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo, is as full of quirk, colour, and comfort as its other eccentric, eclectic siblings in Australia and Hong Kong. WORDS: Michelle Hespe
Brought back to life
Not many people are aware of the fact that Woolloomooloo’s iconic Finger Wharf is still standing due to some incredibly passionate protestors, who, in the 90s, blocked demolition crews and petitioned the government intent on tearing it down. Back then, the wharf was completely rundown and it was deemed too costly an exercise to restore it. Luckily, the unions stepped in and imposed a green ban, Clover Moore appealed to Paul Keating (then the treasurer) and Keating took the matter to the National Trust. Today, the longest timber- piled wharf in the world recently celebrated its one-hundredth birthday, and it’s a sight to behold — a beautiful, clever blending of history, industrial beauty, and modern luxury. It’s also home to a swag of swish apartments, fine-dining restaurants with some of the best views in Sydney, and the latest addition, the stunning Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel.
Designer details and so much style
Ovolo’s 100 rooms and suites are like capsules of Australian history — their soaring ceilings, steel-studded walls, and elements of their design and decor enhancing the industrial beauty that was born of it’s former life as a working wharf. Add some quirky paintings, prints, and bright splashes of colour — a bright yellow sofa there, a funky bedhead decorated with red fish here — and tech- savvy inclusions such as curtains, lights and air con operated with a touch of a finger, and you have a whole lot of comfort in a whole lot of wonderful space.
All rooms are spacious, quirky and luxurious, and some of the top suites are also very rock’n’roll — the INXS Suite has a mock fireplace bursting with bright lights and a small relaxation room with a netted swing to meditate in, while another loft suite has an ultra-cool wood-paneled circular 70s-style bar and a floor-to-ceiling bookcase.
Location, location, location
Ovolo hotels are also about making people feel as though they are a guest in someone’s home, so the mini bar (that is stocked with gourmet goodies) is free, as is the Wi-Fi and a cute tote bag to take some snacks with you when you venture out. There’s also a self- service laundry, a 24-hour gym, awesome breakfast offerings created with top-notch produce, and even a bar in the main lobby where beer and wine, tea and coffee, and nibbles are free, all day long.
Alongside the ‘free stuff ’, it’s the enormous range of quirky spaces tucked within the formerly expansive spaces that make Ovolo’s lobby so special. In fact, the main passage-like atrium of the wharf now has ceilings and petitions within the heritage-listed spaces rooms within rooms — to create a sense of intimacy. And whether you’re working, hosting a meeting, socialising, relaxing, or escaping from the outside world, there are so many spaces, you could hang out in a different one every morning and night on a week-long stay and still not experience them all. Within each space is a carefully curated collection of art, collectibles, books and random pieces that, if you scratch the surface, all have their own little stories to tell. Stories, within stories.
There are throngs of table settings with high-backed chairs beneath large potted trees bursting with fairy lights; colourful booths with fabric-padded walls filled with cushions that resemble genteel English beer garden settings, library-like spaces where sofas, plush rugs and coffee tables make for peaceful havens, and areas that could be the loungeor dining room of a friend’s cool apartment.
Ovolo is in an enviable location when it comes to taking in Sydney’s most iconic sights and experiences — the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Sydney Opera House, and Harbour Bridge, are all within walking distance. The CBDis a ten-minute stroll, or if you’re after a more food-, fashion- and gallery-focused experience, a 20-minute walk will have you in some of Sydney’s most hip and happening suburbs, such as Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and Potts Point. However, if you don’t want to wander too far, Ovolo’s kitchen serves up impressive gastronomical delights created from the finest seasonal produce, and just a few steps from the lobby will have you at some of Sydney’s most renowned fine-dining restaurants such as Otto Ristorante, Manta Restaurant and Bar, and China Doll.