Last Saturday night was the annual awards night for the company Carl works for. The black tie event was being held in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel and as we knew we were in for a big night, we decided to indulge in a hotel sleepover.
Accommodation in Sydney’s CBD hotels isn’t cheap. The best room rate we could find was $299 and that included nothing other than the room itself. It certainly didn’t include parking and this will cost you $65.00 for valet parking or $50.00 to park your car yourself. Without wishing to sound cheap, we parked the car ourselves and as we couldn’t find any attendant anywhere, carried our own bags to the lifts and then to the reception.
Once we’d checked in we made our own way to our room as porters seem to have been abolished in this five-star hotel. We entered our room which was freezing cold and dark and we ran our fingers along the walls trying to locate the light switch. The air conditioning had been set to 18C (64.4F) so I immediately fixed that and the room started to come up to a more pleasant temperature.
Our room was small in keeping with the era in which it was built where all rooms were a rectangular box but the recent renovation is excellent and the room has a modern, slick look. The vanity area in the bathroom is very cramped by that’s because in the renovation they changed the shower-over-the-bath situation to provided a separate shower and that’s where the vanity area became squeezed.
We thought we might celebrate our one night without the kids with a welcoming drink and so Carl headed to the room’s mini-bar. Get ready for it! I said to him I would like a gin and tonic. He said, ‘The gin’s $13.00.’
‘Oh, that’s an expensive gin and tonic’.
‘That’s just for the 50mls of gin. The tonic’s extra’.
‘How much for the tonic?’
‘Seven dollars fifty’. So to pour my own gin and tonic and enjoy it without ice or a slice of lemon or even a straw and drink it in a room with no balcony and no view was going to cost $20.50. Whoever conjured up these prices must be delusional.
Passing on the pre-dinner drinks we concentrated instead on dressing for the black tie event. I didn’t have a black tie dress but I did buy something new and it wasn’t a blue dress, it was sea green. And I’m very glad it wasn’t blue because there was an unfortunate situ with blue dresses.
When we arrived at the ballroom we were offered a selection of pre-dinner drinks and there was an ice sculpture that poured you a vodka cranberry cocktail. I had a sip but it wasn’t for me however Carl and plenty of others thought it was the best vodka and cranberry juice ever.
The ballroom was a pleasant temperature and looked beautiful with low lighting and the tables set with white table cloths and tall candelabras filled with real candles. Once we were seated at our tables one of the presenters took to the stage and I noticed she was wearing a sapphire blue strapless dress with a thin silver belt around the waist. I thought it was a pretty dress.
But then she started presenting awards and a recipient walked onto the stage and she too was wearing the same sapphire blue dress. And during a lull in the proceedings I glanced over at a table next to us and there was another woman in the same sapphire blue dress. Three in the one room? But it didn’t end there.
There was another woman in another corner of the room also wearing the same sapphire blue dress. How could this happen? I just know you would be disappointed if I didn’t get to the bottom of it so I did the unthinkable and actually went up to the presenter and asked her where she bought her dress. She said it was from Sheike and that she couldn’t understand how three other women all bought the same dress for the same function. (You can see the dress on the link!)
Apart from staring around the room at all the dazzling sapphire dresses, there was other entertainment. It came from Axis of Awesome and they were so talented, hilarious and incredible. I found a clip on u-tube with 28 million views so perhaps you’ve seen it but if not, do check the clip below. Their ‘boy band’ love song was just hysterical but I don’t have a clip of that.
And there was food! The entree was pork belly with kipfler potatoes and pineapple chutney and this was a very generous and filling serve. The pineapple chutney had great acidity and was a wonderful contrast to the richness of the pork however there wasn’t any crackle! The skin of the pork was served soft and I would have preferred a bubbling crackle.
The main course was alternate serve. There was roast beef tenderloin with gratinated mushrooms; fondant potato, crispy onion rings and red onion jam or roast chicken supreme with chicken and pistachio roulade, couscous, currents and red capsicum with a tagine style sauce.
I had the beef tenderloin. Actually Carl did but I made him swap with me. The plates came out very hot to touch and the beef was cooked medium rare and was extremely tender. While I definitely enjoyed this dish that was clearly cooked then brought straight to the table, it was lacking in sauce. I also felt that I’d already had a ‘meat and starch’ entree and this was again, ‘meat and starch’ with not a vegetable in sight. A few greens would have made all the difference.
Carl had the chicken (reluctantly) and said the chicken was moist and tender however again, he would have liked more sauce on the plate. This dish also arrived minus any vegetables.
The dessert was milk chocolate and salted caramel slice, praline and maple pecan ice cream. I normally don’t eat desserts at functions as they have that taste like they’ve been plated up and left sitting around since sunrise. This was a refreshing change in that the dessert tasted very fresh and so freshly plated up the ice cream hadn’t even had a chance to melt. I thought it sounded like it was going to be quite sweet but actually the sweetness was well balanced. After the dinner and the awards we hit the dance floor where Carl, rusty to the core, busted out moves I hadn’t seen since 1986. He’s now complaining of back and neck pain. We retired to our room and slept soundly until about 9am. Such a treat after nearly 21 years of constant parenting. The king-sized bed was extremely comfortable and the sheets crisp and fresh. We would have liked to have sampled the buffet breakfast however that was an additional $70.00 and we just didn’t think any hotel buffet would be worth that kind of an expense. Instead we hopped into the Mustang and drove over the bridge to Baxter’s where Alfie was waiting for us and Archie was our waiter. We ordered a coffee, a mineral water, a chocolate milkshake, eggs benedict with salmon, eggs benedict with ham and a bacon and egg roll, all for less than $45.00. And we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine. And that’s it for another 12 months. At the next awards night I’ll be sure to bring my own G&T, wear anything other than sapphire blue and try to extend my leave pass for more than 16 hours.
Hilton Hotel: 488 George Street, Sydney. Ph: 02 9266 2000 If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!