Sydney’s Hilton Hotel

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.

Our room on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel

Our room on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel

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.

Bathroom with the separate shower

Bathroom with the separate shower

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.

The compact vanity area

The compact vanity area

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.

The Ballroom

The Ballroom

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.

The Ballroom

The candelabras were very pretty

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.

The candelabras were not only pretty but they created beautiful anti-ageing lighting!

The candelabras were not only pretty but they created beautiful anti-ageing lighting!

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 ice sculpture with the vodka and cranberry cocktails

The ice sculpture with the vodka and cranberry cocktails

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!)

The best image I could get of the infamous sapphire blue dress

The best image I could get of the infamous sapphire blue dress

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.

Lighting issues!  But trust me now, this was the pork belly entree

Lighting issues! But trust me now, this was the pork belly entree

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.

These photos are so dreadful I shouldn't be showing them but this was the beef tenderloin.  Perfectly cooked and a fabulous cut of beef but it needed more sauce and a vegetable or two would have been nice.

These photos are so dreadful I shouldn’t be showing them but this was the beef tenderloin. Perfectly cooked and a fabulous cut of beef but it needed more sauce and a vegetable or two would have been nice.

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.

It's difficult to see but this is Carl's chicken.  Lovely but no vegetables and not enough sauce.

It’s difficult to see but this is Carl’s chicken. Lovely but no vegetables and not enough sauce.

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.

Milk chocolate and salted caramel slice, praline and maple pecan ice cream - a spectacular dessert

Milk chocolate and salted caramel slice, praline and maple pecan ice cream – a spectacular dessert

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.

Our room on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel

Our room on the 28th floor of the Hilton Hotel

Hilton Hotel:  488 George Street, Sydney.  Ph:  02 9266 2000 If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it!

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  1. Goodness you don’t get much for your hotel dollars, do you? Unfortunate about the hot pink lighting as both meals sounded tasty even without the veggies and it would have been nice to have a chance to salivate. The dessert looked delicious. The multiple blue dresses were a hilarious coincidence though not for the women who wore them.

    • I really do apologise for the photos. They are shocking! But the lighting was so low and I didn’t want to make a big deal of photographing the food so I just snapped away on my i-phone – they’re not good after dark!

  2. That blue dress is so pretty– I can see why 4 women wanted it!

  3. Wow Charlie, that is rather an expensive room! I suspect that WIFI wasn’t included either. We always bring our own cocktails to a hotel room because the mini bars are usually ridiculously priced in a Canada and the US too; a small pack of nuts would be round $8-$10!
    I find the compact bathrooms rather annoying, there is really no where to do one’s makeup. And to be honest, I abhore the compact fluorescent lighting that many hotels have switched to, they just don’t give off a flattering light.
    The lighting at the event looks quite beautiful indeed. How unfortunate for those ladies to have had the exact same dress! Years ago my Mom went to a very fancy event and she wore a lilac gown that she made herself and as dumb luck would have it, there was another lady who made the exact same dress in lilac, no less! Crazy coincidence for sure!
    The food sounds very nice, hotels have come a long way in 20 years serving these massive banquets. The dessert sound delightful. What was the banquet for? I really miss going to these massive banquets, we used to go to two every year, one for my company and one for JTs.

  4. LOL!
    Fancy lighting and dark rooms are a nuisance for taking photos!!!
    Looks like a great night though, good on you for making the most of a work function and sneaking away for a night in the city.

  5. Ouch. Three dresses at one event? How embarassment. I would have seriously considered making a phonecall and getting a friend to bring me a change of dress 🙂 $299 for a room without a view, balcony, parking or breakfast is a bit full-on, and a $20 self-made G&T is ridiculous as you say! At least you enjoyed the event, and the sleep in!!

  6. It looks like you tons of fun at that event though. The lightning wasn’t perefct, butwho cares, …it is all about the husband & good food & enjoying yourselves! 🙂

  7. I don’t even know quite where to begin to comment. The prices. The dress, The one-night escape. Yes, that’s it. A night out for you and Carl. Excellent.

  8. Increasingly, I have become wary of mid range high end hotels….they just seem to rip off, and it is so painful that you don’t really end up having an enjoyable experience. Your experience don’t seem very far off. I hate mini bar price tags. We as a family have a strict policy of not even opening a water bottle, lol!! The lighting at the event looks beautiful, though they are always bad for photographs. And I have never heard of three women wearing the same exact dress for one event…poor them!

  9. What a funny, but odd situation with the dresses. Very unusual in one room and one event! We have always enjoyed nice hotels when we travel, and spent more than we “should” (at times) on the hotel cuisine, but as we get closer to retirement we look at those costs and just wince! Now we really calculate value a little differently. But that’s not to say certain occasions don’t call for a special evening and the costs that come with it. I think this sounds like a lovely event, and every couple needs time away from the brood! I’m so glad you had the night off, Charlie! 🙂

  10. What a beautiful venue! Glad you had the night off to enjoy!! 🙂 xo

  11. Well, that IS a beautiful dress! Glad you enjoyed the night!!

  12. It’s revolting what hotels charge now days – I honestly don’t know how they justify it – then to be slapped in the face with the cost of a G &T from the mini bar – how insulting.
    Shame, what a pity about the 4 blue dresses – see I would never have bought one, it’s dry clean only.
    The cost of your room was well worth it though seeing you slept until 9am – what a treat.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  13. Rooms in Sydney are ridiculously expensive but they charge that much because people are willing to pay it. When people stop, (which they won’t), hotels would rethink.

    I laughed at the blue dress but you’re right, it IS pretty!

  14. Those prices are frightening, even reading this from New York! And why do hotels insist on setting air conditioning to freezing levels in winter (or any time)? I’m glad you enjoyed the night overall though and that you got a rare restful night’s sleep!

  15. Will and I always stay at the Hilton when we’re in Sydney for some reason. Never had a bad experience although I’ll tell you you weren’t missing anything with the breakfast buffet. I don’t think it was worth the $70!

  16. The drink prices,(esp.) were outrageous.
    The dress?I am unimpressed…I’d like to have seen yours.

  17. I have to admit I still long for the old Sydney Hilton, before the renovations a few years ago. It had character and charm.
    Then again, I still call the Four Seasons, The Regent and the Shangrila will always be the old ANA in my eyes xx

  18. Hahaha…you tell a great story, Charlie! The dresses, the pricy mini-bar, the day-glo food…you can’t make this stuff up! Enjoy your week, my friend…I’m off to visit my parents again. Thank goodness doggie is on the mend 🙂

  19. What is it with these venues that don’t provide veggies?? I have been to these functions where the food is lovely but its like no-one eats greens? Anyway, at least you had a nice night to yourselves and a sleepin! Bonus

  20. Gosh you could probably get five nights in Bali with breakfast for the cost of that room. You really don’t get much bang for your buck in big cities do you. And what’s with the no porters, for that price they could surely employ someone to take you up to your room and turn the light on for you!

    Glad the event was enjoyable and that you opted for green not blue, very funny.

  21. LOL you’re so funny Charlie doesn’t matter if pictures weren’t good because I bet they were good even though it’s a shame they didn’t come with any veggies like you i find it a little too much just to have meat and starch i get really bloated hehe

    I also love the sound and look of the dessert what a great ‘staycation’ to be able to stay in a hotel for a night! I wanna do that soon too hehe

  22. Wow that’s quite the dress! it is lovely though but I will think twice about buying and wearing it at large gatherings although it looks too long for me anyway. Oh yes minibar prices are outrageous aren’t they? I did once see potato chips for $10!

  23. The prices are crazy, but it did look like a decent room. And four people with the same dress – they must have all died when they saw each other!

  24. Axis of Awesome are fantastic, aren’t they? I saw their show earlier this year. So funny and so talented.

  25. Yikes, $50 for parking your own car…that’s crazy, at ludicrous prices like that, there’s nothing wrong with passing on a $20 G&T. Family that work in hospitality sure comes in handy don’t they, I should know I’m one of them =P

  26. I am always a bit surprised at the cost of food and lodging in Oz. Expensive room and pricey amenities–and rather Spartan, but am certain the entire event was fun for you both. I loved the hot pink lighting on the food–made me smile.

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