We’re lucky to live in Australia. That phrase – as common as it is – has never been more accurate.
We haven’t beaten this ongoing global pandemic by a long shot, and it would be foolish to be complacent about something that could very well rear its ugly head at the drop of a hat. But we also deserve that warm, congratulatory pet on the back. A combination of fortunate geography, (relatively) pragmatic leadership, and communal responsibility (which thankfully, outweighs the Pete Evans’ of this world) has given us the opportunity to make reasonable steps towards a sense of pre-COVID times, and Sydney in particular is benefitting big time.
The city has always been Australia’s chosen one for its lifestyle, diverse landscapes, and of course that glistening harbour. But it was dead for a long time. Comparatively anyway. The unfair lockdown laws choked the life of this city once upon a time, and an ailing hospitality industry suffered greatly because of it. Even Sydney escorts saw their livelihood threatened and had a migrate towards social media. Several layers of spill-over later and soon enough Sydney was saddled with a famine mentality. There just wasn’t enough fun to go around.
Right now. Sydney is springing back to life, slowly but surely. Yes, summer is always prime time for the harbour city, but as we move towards the colder months, it’s important to take stock of what’s happening around town. Thankfully, there’s a lot.
Hospitality venues are heaving. The long-awaited Bistrot 916 is now open, as are much hyped newbies like Ross Lusted’s Woodcut, contemporary Korean cafe SOUL Deli, and hidden gems like Mister Percy (our Restaurant of the Month for March) and Parlour Cucina. You’ve still got all the bars to explore, like Swinging Cat, Frankie’s Pizza, and back-of-a-sandwich-shop Latino-flavoured La Farmacia. And of course, hotels are open for business like perfectly located, designer favourite QT Sydney.
Anyone who says there’s nothing to do in Sydney right now is either lying, or in denial.
In an ode to Sydney as it is right now, we’ve put together a quick little staycation idea to show you just how easy it is to get back into the city’s rhythm and start living, within reason, again.
1. Check in to QT Sydney
For awhile there, it seemed like the city’s favourite hotels were struggling. Because they pretty much were. Aside from quarantine hotels, these bastions of the city’s hospitality scene were largely empty. There’s few better ways to celebrate the swift turnaround then actually booking into one for a staycation.
The art of the staycation is choosing the right location for what you’ve got planned. QT Sydney is more than up to that task, being smack bang in the CBD, opposite Pitt St Mall and lovingly attached to its design muse: the historic State Theatre.
Book a room for a night here if you like your hotels to have the perfect blend of quirk, luxury and good hospitality. After you’ve settled in, head on out into the night.
2. Grab some dinner at La Farmacia
Given my day job has an office around the corner from Mrs Palmers on Stanley Street, Darlinghurst, I’m very familiar with this bright, vibrant sandwich shop. What I wasn’t familiar with was the fact that this hub of larger-than-life sangas also hosts a “secret” bar out back, which opens in the evening. La Farmacia is its name, and a relentless Latino atmosphere is it’s game.
Grab some tacos and wash them down with a beautifully balanced Mezcal Old Fashioned to get the most out of this experience. But take your time. The vibes here are charmingly casual, colourful and easily the most social on Stanley Street outside of perennial favourite Bar Reggio.
3. See a show at Sunset Piazza
Sydney is going through a Culture Up Late program at the moment, which has pop-up laneway art installations all over the city as well as alfresco seating at some of the city’s most popular restaurants (ones that don’t normally have such an option). Although most unique is the Sunset Piazza, which is only on for a few more weeks and is a pop-up outdoor stage looking to slowly cradle Sydney back into the swing of live music, in a completely “COVID-19 safe setting” (temp checks, spaced seating, mandatory masks).
And we’ve all missed live music.
From jazz and opera to comedy, there’s a nice, tight and diverse program on offer, with standouts on the list including Josh Pyke and Ziggy Ramo. You can check out the full program below.
Book some tickets for whatever is on, it’s only on the other side of Hyde Park from QT Sydney, with one of the city’s most magnificent churches, St Mary’s Cathedral, as the background.
4. End the night with some late, late pizza at Frankie’s
Yes, Frankie’s. It needs no introduction, but a reminder that this place exists and is once again open is always going to be welcome. Especially amongst AU’s readers. It’s the perfect spot for those who prefer some grungier textures to end their night on a darker note, complete with slice o’ pizza in one hand, and a cold craft beer in another. It’s still the reference point for a late night in Sydney, and for good reason. After your Sunset Piazza gig is done, walk the 15 minutes it takes to get there, surrender yourself completely to Sydney’s last refuge of rock n’ roll, and stumble on back to QT Sydney to lay your head on one of those incredibly lush beds.
Consider yourself a born-again Sydneysider.
The writer experienced the above as a guest of City of Sydney and Destination NSW. All opinions remain that of the writer’s.
Feature image: Maclay Heriot/Sunset Piazza.