Sydney, even though not the capital of Australia, is the biggest city in the country (with a population of 5.3 million people). Sydney is a vivid and beautiful destination that has something to offer to all types of travelers out there, from culture to history, architecture, beaches, gastronomy and nightlife.
Are you planning a trip to Sydney soon? That’s great! Now, the next thing you’ll have to figure out is where to stay in Sydney – and here comes the hard part! Sydney has so many different areas and neighborhoods to choose from, each of them with its own charm and unique vibe – and I’m here to help you the perfect one for your stay!
In this post, I’ll talk about the 7 best areas to stay in Sydney, together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations for each of them!
Are you ready? Let’s go!
- If you are in a hurry…
- 1. The Rocks & Circular Quay – the best area for first-timers
- 2. Sydney CBD (Central Business District) – for business travelers
- 3. Darling Harbour – where to stay in Sydney with the family
- 4. Surry Hills & Paddington – the coolest area to stay in Sydney
- 5. Kings Cross – best for nightlife and backpackers
- 6. Bondi Beach – where to stay in Sydney for the beach
- 7. Manly – where to stay in Sydney for surfing
- BONUS 1: Best Apartments In Sydney (City Center)
- BONUS 2: Best Hotels Near Sydney Airport
- Frequently asked questions about hotels in Sydney
If you are in a hurry…
If you need to take a quick decision and book immediately, I got your back, check this list with the best hotels located in Sydney central area:
- Best luxury hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
- Best middle-priced hotel: The Tank Stream
- Best budget hotel: The Pod Sydney
Which area should you choose?
First of all, here is a Sydney map with all the 7 areas I’ll be talking about in this post, so you can easily visualize them:
for the first time
with a family
the coolest area
nightlife on a budget
for the beach
Now, Sydney spreads out across a big area; this area is divided into many different neighborhoods but only some of them are relevant to travelers, especially to those that are visiting the city for the first time.
You might be wondering how you can choose the right neighborhood for your ideal stay now, right? That’s where I come to the rescue! Below I have created a personalized list of recommendations for all travelers out there, depending on their itinerary and interest:
- Where to stay in Sydney for luxury: Circular Quay
- Where to stay in Sydney for budget travelers: Kings Cross or the CBD
- Where to stay in Sydney for families: Darling Harbour or Bondi Beach
- Where to stay in Sydney for nightlife: Kings Cross
- Best areas in Sydney for the beach: Bondi Beach and Manly
Now that you understand a bit more about how this city is organized, let’s jump right into it and find out everything you need to know about the 7 best neighborhoods in Sydney:
1. The Rocks & Circular Quay – the best area for first-timers
In case you are in Sydney for the first time and if you’re interested in witnessing Sydney’s interesting architecture, then The Rocks and the Circular Quay are the best areas for you!
The Rocks and the Circular Quay is where all the most famous tourist attractions are, like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and the best thing is that they’re all within walking distance!
One of the best things about The Rocks and the Circular Quay (which is an important attraction of the city by itself) is that you’ll be well-connected to the other areas of the city via public transportation – here you can take the ferry or the train and explore the other parts of the city!
That being said, here are the best hotels in The Rocks and the Circular Quay for you to choose from, but don’t forget to book them as soon as you can if you want to secure yourself a spot!
Luxury (US$200 and up)
- Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection – If you’re looking for one of the most luxurious places to stay, Sydney Circular Quay surely has some amazing options! This superb 5-star hotel offers unforgettable views, beautiful decor with a nautical theme, and a great location as well.
- Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – Do you want to enjoy the ultimate splurge while also being super close to Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge? Then you should check out this one! It has great views and I totally vouch for it as being one of the best luxury hotels in Sydney!
Middle-priced (US$110 – US$160)
- The Tank Stream – Do you want to stay in one of the most fabulous hotels out there that offer a great location and some modern amenities and facilities? This one has spacious elegant rooms and it’s only 7 minutes away from Circular Quay.
- Hotel Palisade – This middle priced hotel offers modern rooms with sweeping views, an onsite bar and a great location in a quiet spot west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Make sure to check this one out if you’re looking for a chic stay in Sydney.
Budget (up to US$110)
- Sydney Harbour YHA – Have you ever stayed in a 5 star hostel? Sydney Harbour YHA brings your ultimate luxury on a budget with dorm rooms and private rooms avaliable with epic views of the Harbour Bridge. It’s one of the most valuable hotels in The Rocks, Sydney that has a great view and flawless 5-star service!
2. Sydney CBD (Central Business District) – for business travelers
The Central Business District is exactly in the center of the city and is where all the big companies are concentrated. Sydney is the business capital of the country so if you are here to make a deal, this is where it get’s done!
But this doesn’t mean that the area has nothing to offer, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Tower Eye are at the heart of the area. Plus, the best part is that you can actually walk to all the important attractions nearby such as the Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House.
The center of Sydney is also very well connected to the other areas in the city by public transportation (anything from trains to buses) – talking about convenience! And of course it also has plenty of awesome restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and, of course, shops.
In terms of accommodation, this is where most of the big hotel chains are located but it also has tonnes of budget hostels for backpackers who don’t want to stay in the middle of the nightlife scene. The CBD really suits all types of travelers out there, and is the perfect choice even if you are in Sydney just for a few days!
If you feel like this is the place for you, scroll down to find the best hotels in Sydney CBD that you can choose from, and make sure you book it as far in advance as you can if you don’t want to lose the spot:
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- Sheraton Grand Hyde Park Hotel Sydney – In case you’re looking for superb 5-star hotels in Sydney, this one might be the best place for you! This one awaits with free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, an on-site fitness centre, a restaurant and more!
- Swissotel Sydney – Here’s another amazing choice if you want to enjoy a spoiled stay in Sydney, while also being within walking distance to all the important attractions in the center. This is one of the best boutique hotels out there if you want to enjoy an on-site bar, a restaurant, a pool and more!
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$160)
- Meriton Suites Sussex Street – This is another great great place for all those of you looking for beautiful middle-priced CBD hotels in Sydney! This 5-star accommodation awaits with impeccable service and the best facilities!
- Megaboom City Hotel – This is another great place for all those of you looking for beautiful middle-priced CBD hotels in Sydney! This 4-star accommodation awaits with impeccable service and the best facilities!
Budget (up to US$100)
- The Pod Sydney – Here’s one of the coolest cheap hotels in CBD Sydney out there! Located in the heart of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD), it offers both spacious rooms and shared dorms!
- Railway Square YHA – For all those of you that want to be within walking distance to all the most important attractions in the center and still enjoy a really good service, you should check this one out! It’s one of the best budget hotels in Sydney I can recommend!
3. Darling Harbour – where to stay in Sydney with the family
If you feel like the Central Business District is a bit too much for you (it’s one of the most popular areas in the center, after all), then I surely recommend Darling Harbour for a more laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of interesting sights as well.
Darling Harbour is my recommendation for families traveling to Sydney that want to be extremely close to the city center, but enjoy a quieter area.
There are many interesting things to do and visit here, including green spaces, the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Museum, the Pyrmont Bridge, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, the Star Casino – and many restaurants and cute cafes.
Plus, Darling Harbour is one of the best places to base yourself if you want to do some shopping during your stay in the city, as there are two malls here and all types of shops you might think of! Another cool perk about staying here is that you’ll be able to enjoy wonderful views of the harbour, of course.
Convinced? Here are the best hotels in Darling Harbour to choose from:
Luxury (US$170 and up)
- The Star Grand Hotel and Residences Sydney – In case you want to feel spoiled just like a queen or king during your vacation, this is totally one of the best places to stay in Darling Harbour, Australia that you could think of! This one has not one, but plenty of bars and dining options!
- Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – Here’s another excellent choice if you want to be in one of the coolest hotels near Darling Harbour! This one has superb, spacious rooms with modern decor and the best facilities out there!
Middle-priced (US$110 – US$170)
- Novotel Sydney Darling Square – If you’re on the search for great mid-range hotels located right in the heart of the city and close to Darling Harbour, I think this one’s for you! The rooms here are bright, clean and very nicely decorated and the property awaits with free Wi-Fi, a breakfast buffet and a fabulous fitness center.
- Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour – Here’s another one on my list of best places to stay for a mid-range budget! This amazing 5-star hotel has modern decor and a flawless location, close to all the most interesting attractions in the city!
Budget (up to US$110)
- The Ultimo – Do you want to be in one of the best locations out there, only 5-minute walking from the Central Train Station, without spending a fortune? Check out this 4-star hotel in Darling Harbour, I’m sure you’ll like the pictures and the modern amenities!
- Metro Aspire Hotel Sydney – Here’s another excellent budget choice near Sydney Darling Harbour that will help you save a couple of bucks on accommodation, while still offering a very good service! This 4-star hotel is just like a dream!
4. Surry Hills & Paddington – the coolest area to stay in Sydney
Surry Hills and its neighbor, Paddington, are definitely two of the coolest places to stay in Sydney if you’re interested in a local experience and you like the hipster vibe!
I, again, combined the two areas together because they’re close to each other and they’re very similar, with hidden little vintage shops, art galleries along Crown Street, and designer shops at every corner!
Do you want to be a bit off the beaten path and choose something that not all tourists will choose? Then these two areas are great for you. By the way, Sydney Central Station is located in Surry Hills, so it will be SO easy to get around the city!
Some of the highlights here include the Paddington Reservoir Gardens (a superb heritage-listed public park, Victoria Barracks, Surry Hills Market (a super cool flea market) and more… get ready for long, romantic walks! By the way, if you want to reach the Central Business District from here, please know that you’ll only be only 2 kilometers away from it (more or less)!
If you feel like you belong here, scroll down to find the best hotels I am recommending in these two areas:
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- Crystalbrook Albion – One of the best boutique hotels in Surry Hills, offering a 5-star service and it’s located to very close many important spots in this neighborhood including Sydney Central Train Station (500m away) and Belmore Park (400m away).
- Crown Hotel Surry Hills – Are you looking for the best places to stay in Surry Hills that are close to Crown Street? This one’s for you! It awaits with a very good breakfast, spacious and bright rooms, a 24-hour front desk and many other cool facilities!
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$150)
- Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills – I present to you one of the best places to stay in Sydney, Surry Hills, if you’re searching for middle-priced hotels! This cool aparthotel has a cool swimming pool in the garden, a barbecue area, spa pool, sauna and more.
- Crown Hotel Surry Hills – Here’s a great choice if you want to be close to Oxford Street, Taylor Square, the Central Station and more. It’s definitely one of my top recommendations for mid-range hotels in Surry Hills and the entire city!
Budget (up to US$100)
- 57Hotel – In case you’re only interested in cheap hotels in Surry Hills, I can definitely recommend this one! It offers a 4-star service, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms and it’s only 5 minutes away from the Central Station.
- Shakespeare Hotel – Here’s another great choice located very close to Oxford Street, Belmore Park and other interesting sights in this cool neighborhood. Some of the best advantages of staying here include access to the on-site bar and bistro restaurant!
5. Kings Cross – best for nightlife and backpackers
Are you traveling to Sydney looking for party but you’re on a tight budget? Don’t you worry, as Kings Cross is the perfect choice for you!
Kings Cross is also known as the old “Red Light District” of the city, but we’re way past that period and this up-and-coming neighborhood is actually safe and there are tons of awesome shops, cafes and food places scattered all around the area. The area is super famous for its crazy nightlife and there is no better place to stay if you’re looking to party in Sydney.
It is also where a lot of hostels are located so it’s a great spot for budget travelers. Kings Cross is also surrounded by Elizabeth Bay, Darlinghurst and Potts Point, three smaller but equally great areas to search for budget accommodation.
While you’re around the area, make sure to admire the beautiful Victorian architecture that’s so well preserved you won’t believe it!
In case you decided to stay in Kings Cross, below I have hand-picked a great selection of hotels for you to choose from:
Luxury (US$110 and up)
- Spicers Potts Point – This cool 5-star property is one of the best hotels in this cool neighborhood! It has spacious rooms, an amazing on-site bar and restaurant and a top location!
- Medusa Hotel Sydney – Here’s another one on my list of best places to stay in Kings Cross if you’re interested in benefiting from free Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms and a great location, perfect to enjoy local dining and walks around the surrounding streets!
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$110)
- Annam Serviced Apartments – This awesome 4-star aparthotel has one of the best locations out there, only 2 minutes from countless restaurants, bars and shops as well. Plus, it also offers laundry and ironing facilities!
- Regents Court Sydney – Here’s another great 4-star aparthotel for your stay! A very convenient location, free Wi-Fi, on-site laundry facilities, a fully equipped kitchenette – these are just some of the advantages of staying in this cool accommodation!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Springfield Lodge – Do you want to stay in one of the coolest places in the best neighborhood for people that are on a tight budget? Then I assure you that this one’s for you! It’s a very nice 4-star hotel that has some unbeatable prices – check it out!
- Mariners Court Hotel – Here’s another great one on my list of budget hotels in this area! It awaits with a very good 4-star service, amazing breakfast, on-site free parking, free Wi-Fi and everything in-between!
6. Bondi Beach – where to stay in Sydney for the beach
One thing’s for sure: you cannot visit Sydney without spending at least a couple of hours on the beach, am I right? Yep, it’s true! In case you didn’t know, other than a cool harbour, Sydney is also home to some great beaches!
Bondi Beach is a famous, superb white sand beach worldwide and it’s one of the most important attractions in the city, apart from the Sydney Opera House, of course!
Naturally, the main activity here implies full relaxation and sun-soaking all day long. When you get bored, you can always check out the numerous shops around or serve some delicious food in one of the restaurants or head into the city center to explore Sydney!
I definitely recommend Bondi as a great area to stay if you’re looking for a mix of a beach holiday with access to the popular city attractions located in the center via public transport (around 30 mins).
Just take in consideration that being such a famous beach spot it is ALWAYS full of people. In the summer especially, you won’t get much sand to yourself, so if all you want during your holiday is the beach and you don’t care about the city, you might want to check out Manly instead!
That being said, Bondi is equally fit for families with kids and for backpackers as well, which I think is a great thing!
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- QT Sydney Bondi – For those of you looking for beautiful boutique hotels for the best stay in Bondi, I recommend checking out this one and booking a room here! It’s a very nicely decorated aparthotel that has bright rooms, kitchen facilities and many other cool perks.
- Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach Sydney – Do you want to enjoy the ultimate luxurious treatment in the best area for a vacation on the beach? No worries, I got you! This beautiful beachfront aparthotel has unforgettable ocean views, on-site parking, private bathrooms and more.
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$150)
- Bondi 38 Serviced Apartments – In case you want to enjoy beautiful self-contained apartments, with the best ocean views from your balcony, then I recommend checking out this 4-star aparthotel, it looks simply great! Plus, they are literally 1 minute walk from the beach!
- Hotel Bondi – This one’s another great place if you want to be close to countless bars and restaurants, as well as shops and other interesting attractions. Needless to say, you’ll only be 2 minutes from the beach if you choose to stay here!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Wake Up! Bondi Beach – This awesome beachfront hostel is one of the best budget options in Bondi Beach and it offers an on-site bar where you can enjoy a drink or two, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities and many other cool facilities that will help you have a pleasant stay!
- The Baxley Bondi – Here’s another great beach hotel that has simple and comfy rooms, perfect for a good night’s sleep after a full day spent on the beach! Just take a look at the pictures, I’m sure you’ll like it; then, check out the prices – so good!
7. Manly – where to stay in Sydney for surfing
This is a great area for a secluded, relaxed vacation on the beach and it’s ideal for those of you who, other than visiting, are in Sydney also to catch some good waves… if you’re a surfer you’ll be happy here!
I left Manly as my last recommendation because it’s located a bit farther away from the center than all of my recommendations above. Getting there isn’t that quick either – it requires a 20-minute ferry ride. So if you don’t mind being in a secluded location and you only care about the beach and the ocean, then you should definitely go for it!
There is not one, but two equally beautiful beaches here – and plenty of accommodation choices, especially budget-friendly ones! On top of that, you can admire the incredible views, check out the malls in the area or sip a coffee in one of the cozy cafes near the beach. In short, you can never get bored around here!
If the suburb of Manly is your choice for your Sydney vacation, scroll down to find my best hotel recommendations for this area:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Manly Beach Retreat – This awesome 5-star apartment is one of the top choices in the entire area! Some of the best things here include the garden views and free Wi-Fi, however, I’m sure you’d also enjoy the barbecue facilities and the free private parking as well!
- Quest Manly Beach – Here’s another great choice for a luxurious, spoiled stay in Manly! This accommodation is right on the beachfront and you can choose from different types of serviced apartments here, including apartments with a harbor view!
Middle-priced (US$50 – US$120)
- Manly Paradise Motel & Apartments – This awesome 4-star hotel is my recommendation for all those of you looking for great mid-range accommodations in Manly. The staff here is super friendly and willing to help you with whatever you might need! The top advantage of staying here is definitely the rooftop pool!
- Private room in townhouse – Feel like at home in this modern townhouse, located in a quiet street only 5 minutes’ walk from beach and at the same time to restaurants, cafes and buses!
Budget (up to US$50)
- Private room with balcony – Enjoy this beautiful and bright private room with balcony, in a modern 2 level townhouse with a relaxed atmosphere. You’ll be located in quiet street at only 5 minutes’ walk from the beach!
- Ocean views from every window – Here’s a beautiful room right on the beach, opposite to Manly Beach with views from every window. You can even hear the waves at night and it’s within walking distance from cafes, restaurants shops and the ferry!
|👑 Luxury price:||$300|
|💵 Mid Range:||$200|
|📍 Best neighborhood:||The Rocks & Circular Quay|
|🛎️ Best luxury hotel:||Four Seasons Hotel Sydney|
|💵 Mid-range hotel:|
|👛 Best budget hotel:|
BONUS 1: Best Apartments In Sydney (City Center)
Apartments are a great choice for those of you that want to enjoy a cozy, homey feeling during their travels instead of booking a room in a hotel. They’re also a great choice for those that want to save some money (as they tend to be cheaper) or for big groups that want to stay together, for example families with kids of groups of friends.
The good news is that there are plenty of Airbnb options in Sydney that you can choose from! Below I have selected the best ones in the city center, all sorted by budget and with very good reviews:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Soak up Sleek, Industrial Vibes in Cosmopolitan Surry Hills – In case you want to enjoy some luxury during your vacation in Sydney, then I can definitely recommend this superb apartment! It has a great location, superb decor and it’s ideal for up to 3 guests.
- Darling Harbour Apartment in Sought-After Heart of CBD – This one’s another great apartment located right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, close to all the important attractions and activities in this part of the city – just take a look at the pictures, I’m sure you’ll love it!
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$160)
- Central 1 Bedroom Apartment – This 1-bedroom apartment is a great mid-range apartment located right in the center of the city and it’s recommended for a romantic getaway. It’s simple, but very clean and it has some very good reviews!
- St Marks Randwick – If you’d prefer staying in a stylish guesthouse, then I recommend checking out this one! It’s clean, bright and with public transport close by, that will bring you to the Sydney CBD in just 15 minutes!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Private Floor Ensuite Balcony Darling Harbour ICC – If you’re on a tight budget but still want to enjoy a very good stay in Darling Harbour, you might love this place! It’s a private room in an apartment ideal for 2 guests and it has a very beautiful decor!
- Ocean views from every window – Here’s an beautiful room right on the beach, opposite to Manly Beach with views from every window. You can even hear the waves at night!
BONUS 2: Best Hotels Near Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport (SYD), also known as Kingsford Smith, is the place where you’ll most probably land if you arrive to the city by place and it’s located only almost 9 km from the city center (which is around 20 minutes by car with no traffic) in a suburb called Mascot.
In case you have a very early or a very late flight, staying as close to the airport as possible can and will save you quite some precious time and sleep. If you decided to do so, here are the best airport hotels in Sydney I have selected for you (one for each type of budget):
- Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel – This is my recommendation for all those of you that want to enjoy some luxury as close as possible to the airport. It’s an awesome 5-star hotel located only 700 m from the airport!
- Travelodge Hotel Sydney Airport – Here’s an awesome 4-star airport hotel, this time with some more accessible prices. This accommodation has different types of rooms that you can choose from and it’s at only a 9 minutes drive from the airport! It also has a free shuttle service!
- Citadines Connect Sydney Airport – This modern airport is located literally a 10 mins drive away from the Domestic Terminal of Sydney Airport. You will have your own private bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, and free shuttle service!
Frequently asked questions about hotels in Sydney
📍Which is the best area to stay in Sydney?
🏖️ Where to stay in Sydney near the beach?
👪 Where to stay in Sydney for families?
🍹Where to stay in Sydney for nightlife?
Yay, you have reached the end of my complete guide on Sydney accommodation! I hope you found this article useful in planning your vacation and I hope you already found the ideal place for your stay in one of my lists above.
In this post I have talked about the 7 best Sydney neighborhoods, together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations for each of them, from luxurious boutique hotels to on-budget options. As usual, I have also picked some fabulous apartments in the city center and airport hotels as well – so you basically have anything your heart desires here!
If you are still not sure about which is the best accommodation for you, here are my 2 favorite hotels with great location and reviews:
- Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – One of the best luxury hotels in Sydney, super close to Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge!
- Sydney Harbour YHA – One of the most valuable hotels in The Rocks, with a great view and flawless 5-star service!
Are you traveling to Sydney, Australia soon? Do you have any other questions or concerns? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer!
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