In the first of a three part feature, Pam Ann gives us her pick of the best places to stay and to eat in Sydney – whether you are visiting for Mardi Gras or any time.
Quay Grand Suites: If you want a view, and I mean a mo-fo view, this is the place to stay. The Quay Grand Suites are located right next to the Sydney Opera House, looking right onto the harbor and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This is the perfect location for NYE parties. I spent NYE here, and it was the most spectacular New Year’s I have ever experienced – 12 gay flight attendants from Qantas and me. We had some Jet Star crew serve us which was a riot. The décor is not high-end, but if you plan on a long stay or just a great place to be with friends, this is the best place to stay in Sydney.
The suites have fully equipped kitchens, which is great if you’re like me and love to have dinner parties. There are washer-dryers, too. Ask for Concierge David Board, if he’s still there – tell him Pam Ann recommended Quay Grand to you. He will spoil you… I hope! 61 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay.
Sheraton On The Park: If I’m in Sydney for a layover and only staying a couple of days, I’m all about cushy-soft furnishings and luxury. This hotel is big, but it still offers the kind of personalized service that you would expect from a boutique hotel or my airline.
I stayed in the penthouse – which, I must say, needed a little renovation when I was there – but it was huge, with a spectacular view of Sydney Harbor and Hyde Park. If your budget isn’t quite in the penthouse range, the deluxe rooms are very luxurious and have been recently renovated.
The Sheraton on the Park has a truly great room service menu – I love a hotel that offers a full room-service menu at 4am, being an international air-hostess, I am always on another time zone. An extensive 24hr room service menu is a sign of a great hotel for me.
This hotel is very well located, in the heart of the CBD (central business district) and near the State Theatre, which is my favorite theatre in Sydney. 161 Elizabeth Street.
Blue Sydney: The ‘Blue at Woolloomooloo’ is perfectly located on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo; smack bang on the harbor and next to the Royal Botanical Gardens if you fancy a cruise and I am not talking on a boat.
It’s a little out of the way, but it’s only a short cab ride to the CBD (central business district) and if you’re in the mood for a walk, it’s 20 minutes to Potts Point. The rooms are very loft-like and modern. The open-air lobby and bar and very cool and full of models shooting for the next Vogue.
I like the lighting – it’s very dark, so you look great on a date. Plus you’re sitting right on top of my favorite restaurant in Sydney, China Doll. The Wharf at Wolloomooloo, 6 Cowper Wharf Road.
Kirketon Hotel: The Kirketon is ideally situated for the gays, right between seedy old Kings Cross and Oxford Street. It’s a great hotel if you want to be in the heart of Sydney’s restaurant, bar and nightclub district.
This is a more boutique, personal hotel, with sleek and sexy rooms. I have never stayed here, but I have heard only good things… and when I poked my head in, it looked gorgeous.
The Kirketon Brasserie is located on the ground level, so you really don’t have far to go if you’re hungry and want some mouthwatering cuisine to cure that hangover after your layover! 229 Darlinghurst Road.
Regents Court: If you want to stay in the heart of Kings Cross and feel like you’re not, this is the place to stay. It has a super history – originally built as a gentlemen’s chambers in 1926, it was converted into a 30-room boutique hotel in 1990.
The ‘rooms’ are really more like luxury apartments, while being very warm, stylish and bohemian. I once had a discreet rendezvous here whilst on a layover. A very arty vibe – artists who stayed over the years include Tracey Moffatt, Barbie Kjar, John Wolseley and Allan Kaprow.”¨A little out of the ordinary, like me. 18 Springfield Avenue.
China Doll: My favorite restaurant in Sydney, in one of the best locations for dining alfresco: on the wharf in Woolloomooloo. Fantastic location, elegant styling, modern Asian dishes and original Asian-inspired cocktails. What more could you ask for?
Welllll… actually, the waiters are damn cute but are more for the boys than the girls – bit like my cabin crew. Great service, amazing food – I love it here. I have been known to stay from lunch to dinner and been rolled out of there with no memory of ever leaving. Shop 4, 6 Cowper Wharf Road.
Icebergs: Maurice Terzini’s Icebergs restaurant is in North Bondi, overlooking the famous Icebergs swimming pool.
The restaurant and view are both spectacular, and make for a unique dining experience. Maurice has created some of Australia’s finest restaurants. You can tell by the delicious Italian cuisine that there is a very passionate person behind it – Maurice never sleeps and works 35 hours a day, bit like me lol.
He should do some in-flight menus for Ailitalia. 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach.
The Ivy, Mad Cow and Uccello: OMG, the Ivy is one of Sydney’s most exciting venues. I LOVE it. Imagine a maze of fine dining restaurants and bars all on various levels – including a VIP bar for those in the know (which now includes you, lucky ducky).
It feels very Miami but with a Sydney flavor. Gorgeous tanned models strut their stuff here along with the jet set. My favourite Ivy restaurants are Mad Cow, which is a New York-style heart-attack-on-a-plate steakhouse, and Uccello – which is located on the rooftop by the pool.
I have spent many nights, cocktail in hand, chasing gay boys around that pool. I don’t remember the food so much, just the overall experience, which reminds me of summer and one big dance party with beautiful people. Gucci Pucci Fiorucci! 320–330 George Street.
Guillaume at Bennelong: I am lucky to be let back in here… Years ago I used to work part time at the Sydney Opera House before my air-hostessing career took off, dressing the chorus in the bowels of the building.
We would always frequent Bennelong (which is in the Opera House) for cocktails after the show, and this one time we stole a freestanding light, which continued to stay glowing as we ran out of the bar and down the stairs to the ferry. No one saw us – naughty naughty! Ah, the things you do when you are in your 20s.
Anyway… situated in the southern sail of the Opera House, this is an exquisite dining experience. Its architecture and décor are so Pam Ann, if I could take it over, this building would make for the perfect Sydney Pam Ann HQ. They painted it beige so planes wouldn’t fly into it! Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point.
Bills Darlinghurst: If you want the best breakfast in Sydney besides my Pam Ann in-flight brekky, you must stop over at Bills – his scrambled eggs made him famous.
My good friends Beyoncé and Jay-Z love themselves a bit of Bill. If you like Bills Darlinghurst, you must try Bills Surry Hills and Bills Woollahra… then I think you would have had enough of Bill. 433 Liverpool Street.
Rockpool: Rockpool is another of my favorite restaurants in Sydney (they have a location in Melbourne as well, if you make it there). The food is amazing and the waiters are so professional and very cute – I would hire them to fly with Pam Ann airlines any day.
If you love meat (and trust me, I do), Rockpool is your place, with aged slabs that’ll melt in your mouth. Neil Perry, the man behind Rockpool, is also the chef for Qantas Airlines, and I must say, he does serve up a lovely in-flight meal. His cuisine makes British Airways in-flight food look like microwave ready meals. First class Qantas passengers all salivate for their Neil Perry in-flight meal – his food flies miles high around the globe. Rockpool, in a word, rocks. 107 George Street.
Tropicana Caffe: This restaurant opened in 1980, and I think they’ve had the same menu ever since – which is great, because you know exactly what you’re getting and the food is fresh, healthy and so Sydney. They do some mean salads.
Food’s served until 10.30 pm and you’ll often find the brightly lit room full of young Paddington and Darlinghurst locals enjoying the corkage-free BYO. It can get so packed and noisy that sometimes it feels like a cool pub.
Tropfest, Sydney’s short film festival, was born here. 227 Victoria Street.
Cafe Sydney: If you’re staying at the Quay Grand and still can’t get enough of the view, then come here for a fine dining experience with spectacular harbor views.
Cafe Sydney really captures the essence of the city from its amazing location on the rooftop of Customs House. A great spot if you want to impress an international guest.
Try to nab a table on the outdoor terrace – that is, after you lean back for a bit in the very Pam Ann-style cocktail lounge, whose contemporary interior reminds me of my HQ in Sydney. Customs House, Alfred Street, Circular Quay.
While you’re in Sydney, you must see The Pam Ann Show – on TV on Foxtel’s Comedy Channel. High-flying fabulousness before a live studio audience!
And to see Pam Ann’s hilarious show in person, check out her latest tour dates here.
Gay Star News is proud to be global news sponsor of Sydney Mardi Gras 2013, running from 8 February to 3 March.