Where to Stay in Sydney 🇦🇺: Best Places to Stay in Sydney

Updated on June 6, 2024
by Alex Miller

Sydney, the vibrant capital of New South Wales, is a world-class destination renowned for its iconic landmarks, stunning beaches, and thriving cultural scene. For travelers planning a trip to Sydney, choosing the right accommodation is crucial to ensuring a memorable and enjoyable stay.

With a diverse array of neighborhoods, each offering its own distinct character and attractions, selecting the ideal area can be a daunting task. From the bustling city center to the trendy beachside suburbs, Sydney boasts a wide range of accommodation options catering to various preferences and budgets.

Our pick of the best hotels in Sydney 🔝

This comprehensive guide aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the best places to stay in Sydney in 2024, taking into account factors such as proximity to major attractions, accessibility, amenities, and overall ambiance. By exploring the unique offerings of each neighborhood, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect base to experience the city’s vibrant culture, culinary delights, and breathtaking landscapes.

Quick Sydney Neighborhood Guide 📋

1. Central Business District (CBD) & Darling Harbour – For the First Time 👀

🏙️ Central hub: If you’re looking for a central location with easy access to Sydney’s top attractions, the CBD and Darling Harbour area is the place to be.

✨ Unbeatable convenience: One of the biggest perks of staying in the CBD is the convenience factor. You’ll be right in the heart of the action, with countless restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops all around you. Plus, public transportation is a breeze, with multiple train stations and bus routes connecting you to the rest of the city.

🗽 Iconic landmarks: The CBD is home to some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks, including:

  • The Sydney Opera House
  • The Harbour Bridge
  • The Royal Botanic Garden
  • The Australian Museum
  • The Art Gallery of New South Wales

And let’s not forget about Darling Harbourpacked with entertainment options like the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the Chinese Garden of Friendship.

🍽️ Foodie paradise: The CBD is a food lover‘s dream, with an endless array of dining options to suit every taste and budget. Some of my favorite spots include:

  • The Rocks Market: This weekend market features over 200 stalls selling everything from artisanal food to handmade crafts.
  • Spice Alley: This hidden laneway in Chippendale is lined with Asian street food vendors, offering a delicious and affordable feast.
  • Bennelong: Located inside the Sydney Opera House, this fine dining restaurant serves up modern Australian cuisine.

☕ Grab and go: For a quick and tasty breakfast on the go, grab a coffee and a pastry from one of the many cafes in the CBD. Our go-to is Bourke Street Bakery, which has several locations throughout the city.

🏰 Historic charm: For a unique experience, consider staying in one of the many heritage-listed buildings that have been converted into boutique hotels. These properties offer a glimpse into Sydney’s rich history and architecture while providing all the modern comforts you need.

All hotels in CBD →

Where to stay in CBD? 🏨

Best hotels in CBD

  • W Sydney – Luxury hotel with sleek modern rooms, panoramic city views, trendy bars/restaurants, and incredible rooftop pool deck. Prime CBD location near Sydney Opera House.
  • Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – Five-star harbourfront luxury with spacious rooms, marble bathrooms, exceptional service, fine dining, tranquil spa.
  • Establishment Hotel – Stylish boutique hotel with elegant rooms, high-end amenities, impressive dining venues. Central CBD location amidst top shopping and nightlife.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

  • YEHS Hotel Sydney QVB – Well-equipped self-contained apartments with kitchenettes. Excellent value in CBD near Queen Victoria Building.
  • Rydges Darling Square Apartment Hotel – Spacious apartments with living areas, kitchens, pool, gym. Affordable option near Darling Harbour.
  • The Ultimo – Budget-friendly hotel with basic clean rooms. Great CBD location near Hyde Park and Oxford Street.

Best hostels

2. The Rocks & Circular Quay – Best Place to Stay in Sydney for History 🕍

🕰️ Historic roots: The Rocks is Sydney’s oldest neighborhood, dating back to the early days of European settlement.

🚶‍♀️ Atmospheric stroll: I highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll through the narrow laneways and soaking up the atmosphere. Check out the Rocks Discovery Museum to learn more about the area’s fascinating past, from its indigenous roots to its days as a bustling maritime port.

🌉 Iconic views: One of the biggest draws of The Rocks and Circular Quay is the views of Sydney Harbour. You’ll be treated to perfect vistas of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from just about every angle. For an extra special experience, head to the top of the Pylon Lookout for panoramic views of the city and harbor.

🍽️ Culinary delights: The Rocks is a food lover’s paradise, with an array of dining options. Some of our favorite spots include:

  • The Glenmore Hotel: This historic pub boasts a rooftop bar with incredible harbor views.
  • Quay Restaurant: For a truly special occasion, book a table at this restaurant overlooking the Opera House.
  • The Rocks Markets: Held every weekend, these markets are a great place to sample local food and pick up unique souvenirs.

If you’re on a budget, grab some fish and chips from one of the many takeaway spots.

🚶‍♂️ Walkable charm: The Rocks and Circular Quay are incredibly walkable, with most attractions within easy reach of each other. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for free.

🚉 Transport hub: Circular Quay is also a major transportation hub, with ferries, trains, and buses connecting you to the rest of the city. I suggest hopping on a ferry to Manly or Taronga Zoo for a fun day trip.

All hotels in the Rocks →

Where to stay in the Rocks? 🏨

Best hotels in The Rocks

  • Park Hyatt Sydney – Luxury harbourfront hotel between Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Sleek modern rooms with floor-to-ceiling views, tranquil spa, rooftop pool, exceptional dining.
  • Harbour Rocks Hotel Sydney - MGallery – Boutique heritage hotel in The Rocks with stylish rooms, cozy wine bar, Middle Eastern restaurant. Steps from Harbour Bridge.
  • Shangri-La Sydney – Luxury hotel in The Rocks with panoramic Opera House and Harbour Bridge views. Elegant Asian-inspired decor, award-winning dining.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

3. Surry Hills – Best Area to Stay in Sydney for Art & Shopping 🛒

🎨 Creative hub: If you’re looking for a trendy neighborhood with a vibrant dining scene, unique shopping, and a creative vibe, Surry Hills is the place to be.

🖼️ Art scene: Surry Hills is home to a thriving creative scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and museums to explore. Some cultural highlights include:

  • Belvoir St Theatre: One of Australia’s most respected theater companies, known for showcasing local talent.
  • Brett Whiteley Studio: The former home and studio of the celebrated Australian artist, now a museum showcasing his work.
  • M2 Gallery: A hip space featuring exhibitions from established and emerging local artists.

Many of the galleries in Surry Hills are free to enter, so it’s a great way to experience the local art scene on a budget.

🍽️ Foodie paradise: Surry Hills is a foodie’s dream – from casual cafes to high-end restaurants, you’ll find it all here. Some of my favorite spots are:

  • Firedoor: This award-winning restaurant is all about cooking with fire, using only wood-fired ovens and grills to create their dishes.
  • Chin Chin: A Sydney outpost of the popular Melbourne Thai eatery, known for its loud, punchy flavors and perpetual queues.
  • Bills: A sunny, stylish cafe famous for its creamy scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes.
  • Porteño: A fine dining restaurant serving up modern Spanish tapas with an Argentinian twist.

For a quick and tasty breakfast on the go, grab a pastry from Bourke Street Bakery, a local institution.

Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney
Surry Hills, Sydney

🛍️ Unique shopping: Crown Street is the main shopping thoroughfare, but don’t be afraid to explore the side streets for hidden gems. Some of the top picks include The Standard Store, Fabrique Vintage and Oscar & Friends bookshop. Also check out the Surry Hills Markets, held on the first Saturday of every month, for unique finds from local artisans and designers.

🍷 Nightlife buzz: When the sun goes down, Surry Hills really comes alive. Top watering holes include The Dolphin Hotel, Tio’s bar and The Winery, wine bar with an extensive list of local and international drops, plus tasty share plates.

All hotels in Surry Hills →

Where to stay in Surry Hills? 🏨

Best hotels in Surry Hills

  • Crystalbrook Albion – Chic boutique hotel in restored 19th-century building. Stylish rooms, cozy lounge, courtyard garden. Trendy Surry Hills location.
  • Adina Apartment Hotel Crown Street – Modern apartments with kitchens, living areas, pool, gym, cafe. Central Surry Hills near dining and nightlife.
  • 57 Hotel – Trendy boutique hotel with sleek modern rooms, rooftop terrace with hot tub and city views.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

  • Rydges Sydney Central – Affordable hotel near Central Station with compact modern rooms, pool, gym and restaurant.
  • Adge Apartment Hotel – Self-contained apartments with kitchenettes in central Sydney location near attractions and transport.

4. Bondi Beach – Best Neighborhood in Sydney for Relaxing 🧘🏻‍♀️

🏖️ Iconic beach: This iconic stretch of golden sand is Sydney’s most famous beach for a reason.

🚶‍♀️ Coastal stroll: I love strolling along the coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte Beach. The vibe is laidback yet lively, with a fun beach culture centered around the iconic Bondi Pavilion. Get there early for a prime spot on the beach, as it gets packed on sunny days.

☕ Cafe culture: Don’t miss grabbing an acai bowl or flat white from one of the cafes lining the streets behind the beach. We’re big fans of:

  • Lox Stock & Barrel for their Israeli-inspired fare with a view
  • Bondi Massive for great coffee and people watching
  • Bills for iconic Australian brunch fare

🍻 Lively scene: Join the locals for a Sunday session at Bondi Beach Public Bar for live music, cold beers and a classic Aussie pub vibe. In the evenings, the beach takes on a whole new energy with outdoor yoga sessions, lively bars and the chance to catch an epic sunset over the ocean.

🏨 Beachfront bliss: For the ultimate Bondi experience, I recommend renting beach bungalows or checking into one of the hip boutique hotels right on the shoreline.

All hotels near Bondi Beach →

Where to stay near Bondi Beach? 🏨

Best hotels near Bondi Beach

  • QT Bondi – Trendy beachfront hotel with vibrant design, buzzing bars/restaurants, incredible rooftop pool deck.
  • Bondi 38 Serviced Apartments – Stylish apartments across from beach with kitchens, many offering ocean views. Central Bondi location.
  • Hotel Bondi – Unbeatable beachfront location on Campbell Parade. Compact modern rooms, rooftop pool area.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

Best hostels

5. Kings Cross – Where to Stay in Sydney for Nightlife 💃🏻

🎉 Party central: If you’re looking for a wild night out in Sydney, Kings Cross is where the party’s at.

🚥 Gritty vibe: This gritty neighborhood has been the red-light district for decades, though it’s cleaned up its act in recent years.  The area can feel a bit seedy, especially on the side streets. Stick to the main drags like Darlinghurst Road and Bayswater Road for the most happening spots.

☕ Fuel up: Don’t sleep the day away though! Fuel up with a classic Aussie brekkie at iconic cafes like:

  • Shady Pines Saloon (try the baked eggs!)
  • Room Ten
  • Brewtown Newtown

🍻 Iconic pubs: Don’t miss grabbing a drink at one of the area’s iconic pubs like The Bourbon or The World Bar. Or for a taste of Kings Cross’s global flavors, we love the cheap and cheerful Asian eateries along Bayswater Road.

Bar in Kings Cross
Bar in Kings Cross
Bar in Kings Cross

📸 Photo spot: Check out the El Alamein fountain at night when it’s illuminated – it’s become an iconic Kings Cross photo spot.

💰 For budget travelers, Kings Cross is a goldmine for affordable accommodations. You’ll find hostels, as well as cheap hotels and Airbnbs if you know where to look.

All hotels in Kings Cross →

Where to stay in Kings Cross? 🏨

Best hotels in Kings Cross

  • Spicers Potts Point – Elegant boutique hotel in restored Victorian terrace houses. Luxurious rooms, cozy lounge, courtyard garden. Potts Point location.
  • Hotel Indigo Sydney Potts Point – Trendy boutique with chic modern rooms, local artwork. Rooftop pool/bar with city views. Vibrant Potts Point area.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

  • Springfield Lodge – Intimate boutique in Victorian terrace house. Cozy vintage-modern rooms, courtyard breakfast area.
  • Hotel 59 Sydney – Well-appointed affordable hotel in lively Kings Cross with compact modern rooms. Central location.

6. Manly – Where to Stay in Sydney with Family 👪

🌊 Seaside escape: Just a ferry ride from Circular Quay, this seaside suburb offers the perfect blend of beach life and urban charm.

🛳️ Scenic journey: The journey starts with the ferry ride itself, which I always recommend for its stunning views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge. Once you step off the ferry, you’re greeted by the Corso, a pedestrian street lined with shops, cafes, and bars leading straight to the beaches:

  • Manly Beach: From surfing and swimming to beach volleyball, there’s always something happening. The soft golden sand and clear blue waters make it an ideal spot for sunbathing or just chilling.
  • Shelly Beach: For a quieter experience, take a walk to Shelly Beach. It’s a protected marine reserve perfect for snorkeling and spotting sea life. Plus, the Boathouse Shelly Beach is a great spot for a beachside meal.

🚲 Coastal trails: Rent a bike and explore the scenic bike paths around Manly. It’s a fun way to see the area and enjoy some coastal views.

🍽️ Laid-back dining: We love the laid-back dining scene in Manly. Some of my favorites include:

  • Manly Wharf Hotel: For stunning harbour views and delicious pub food.
  • The Pantry Manly: Perfect for a beachfront breakfast or brunch.
  • Garfish: Go here for the freshest seafood in town.

🛍️ Weekend markets: Don’t miss the Manly Market Place on weekends. It’s a great spot to pick up local crafts, fresh produce, and unique souvenirs.

🏞️ Historic sights: Manly isn’t just about the beach; it’s steeped in history too. The North Head Sanctuary offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Sydney Harbour, along with fascinating WWII military relics and walking tracks through native bushland.

All hotels in Manly →

Where to stay in Manly? 🏨

Best hotels in Manly

  • Manly Pacific Sydney – Upscale beachfront hotel with stylish ocean-view rooms and suites. Direct beach access, near Corso shops/dining.
  • Quest Manly – Modern apartments with kitchens, living areas. Central Manly location near attractions.

Best cheap/moderate hotels

Best hostels

  • Stoke Beach House – Social hostel one block from beach with dorms, bar, shared kitchen.
  • Manly Bunkhouse – Basic affordable hostel near Manly Beach and dining strip.

Best Hotels near Sydney Airport 🛫

1. Rydges Sydney Airport

This hotel is literally steps away from the international terminal, making it the closest hotel to Sydney Airport. It’s conveniently located just steps from the international check-in desks and a 15-minute drive to Sydney’s CBD.

As the only hotel within the airport precinct, Rydges offers unbeatable convenience for travelers with early flights or short layovers.

2. Citadines Connect Sydney Airport

Citadines Connect is one of the newest hotels near Sydney Airport, opened in 2019. It’s just a 2-minute drive from the domestic terminal and 10 minutes from the international terminal. The hotel has a retro-chic vibe with an 8th floor bar offering views of the airport tarmac.

Rooms are modern and stylish, making it a great option for leisure travelers too.

3. Holiday Inn Express Sydney Airport

As part of the IHG chain, this hotel offers reliable quality just a 10-minute walk from the domestic terminal and train station. 

Holiday Inn Express Sydney Airport
Holiday Inn Express Sydney Airport
Holiday Inn Express Sydney Airport

While not as upscale as some options, the Holiday Inn Express provides affordable comfort with free WiFi and is just a 10-minute drive from the international airport, making it very convenient for flying in or out of Sydney.

Best Areas & Hotels in Sydney on a Map 🗺

FAQs about Visiting Sydney ❔

Where to stay in Sydney for the first time?

For first-time visitors to Sydney, the best areas to stay include Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour and The Rocks. These areas offer a wide range of accommodation options, catering to all budgets and preferences, and are close to major attractions like the Opera House, Darling Harbour, and Royal Botanic Garden.

Where to stay in Sydney without a car?

If you don’t have a car, the best areas are the city center neighborhoods like the CBD, The Rocks, Circular Quay, and Darling Harbour. These areas are well-connected by public transport (trains, buses, ferries) to all the major attractions.

How to stay in Sydney cheap?

For budget accommodation, consider areas like Potts Point or Kings Cross which have hostels and budget hotels close to the city center. Newtown is a cool inner-west suburb with affordable hostels and a local vibe. You can also look for outer suburbs connected by trains, but be prepared for longer commutes into the city center.

Can you sleep in Sydney airport?

According to recent reports, it is no longer possible to sleep overnight in the public areas of Sydney Airport’s domestic or international terminals. The entire airport closes from around 11pm to 2:30am, and travelers may be asked to leave during these hours. Your best options are to book a hotel near the airport like the Mantra or Rydges hotels connected to the terminals which offer day rooms.