Past the halfway mark of summer, Sydney finds itself taking one step forward and one step back with international visitors this year. On one hand, there is the much needed expansion of the city's hotel inventory with several new properties opening in the Central Business District (CBD), Woolloomooloo and Bondi Beach areas. On the other hand, despised new city-wide lockout laws - namely alcohol regulations - have many nightspots shuttering at a much too-early 1:30am and retailers refusing the sale of wine and spirits at 10 pm, creating serious uproar city-wide.
In terms of hotels, Primus Sydney is the season's hottest new reservation. Located within the CBD, Primus Sydney occupies a former government building constructed in 1939 with dramatic marble pillars and interiors by Woods Bagot who's responsible for the looks of Sydney's The Ivy and NY's Baccarat Hotel. Developed by China's Greenland Group, upmarket Primus employs a more muted luxury aesthetic than you'll find in the US or Europe translated through industrial accents and restored art deco detailing. The roof is a showstopper with the best pool deck in town that's, refreshingly, for guests-only. Not the only Chinese real estate conglomerate investing in Sydney, Ovolo Woolloomooloo recently took-over the former W Sydney along the century-old Woolloomooloo wharf to create a more grown-up party pad typical of owner Girish Jhunjhnuwala's other Hong Kong-based properties. The group also acquired the revamped 1888 Hotel and has created a more playful design aesthetic. Also new for the year, look for QT Bondi, one of the largest hotel developments to ever hit the beach town with apartment-style accommodations styled by Australian designer Nic Graham.
While you'll be hard-pressed to get a ticket, Copenhagen's Noma pop-up has proved the biggest food story of the summer season. And if star chefs are your thing, don't miss UK chef Jason Atherton's Australian debut at Kensington Street Social, mixing traditional British cuisine in a playful, pub-style setting. Even more casual is Bang in Surrey Hill offering dressed up Bangladeshi cuisine. Your best gourmet meal, however, will be at Bennelong, now led by chef Peter Gilmore who has partitioned the Opera House space into four different dining rooms serving up curated foodie perfection. But if it's nightlife you're after, you better start on the early-side at Sunset Session at The Glenmore, boasting one of the best rooftop scenes in town, or at new Club 77 attempting to defy the lockout with one of the best new bars in Darlinghurst.