Vast, impressive and home to the best venues in Eastern Australia; Sydney’s Central Business District is the place to be. The economic hub of a continent, The City is a true one-off, the sort of place you can catch a play at the harbour front, go snorkelling with sharks then catch a drag show, all under the burning Australian sun. But how do you make the most of your precious hours between meetings?
Pier 4 (Walsh Bay)
Home to the Sydney Theatre Company, two theatres and more good bars than you could comfortably visit in one lifetime; Pier 4 is Australia’s answer to Broadway and The West End. While the shows may not have the same calibre as their Northern Hemisphere counterparts, the location knocks the stuffing out of anything the Americans or Brits can offer. Overlooking the vast, dark harbour; the great bridge running from Lavender Bay and encompassing world-famous restaurants, Pier 4 is a stunning introduction to this beguiling city’s burgeoning theatre scene.
Ivy Pool Club
If being seen on the ‘exclusive scene’ is more your thing, head over to the Ivy Pool Club. Made for people with more money than taste, the Ivy Pool is a haven of millionaires, models and high-flying business types celebrating that just-closed deal. Decked out in a retro-kitsch-meets-modernist-tourist-trap sort of style, the Ivy Pool may not be the best-looking place in Australia; but it is certainly the best place to be seen. If you do venture in, make sure you bring copious amounts of money; this is not one for the riff-raff.
Crossroads Bar (Swissotel Sydney)
If you prefer elegance over in-you-face style, why not skip the Ivy Pool Club for high tea at the newly renovated Crossroads Bar? Situated on the 8th floor of the luxury Swissotel Sydney; Crossroads ticks every box: tasteful modernist layout, impeccable service and cocktails as gorgeous as the waitresses. Plus there’s the stunning view of Market Street; a perfect vista to ruminate over or simply enjoy a romantic moment. Diners could do worse than make their way downstairs to the excellent JPB, which serves barnstorming modern Australian fare in a tasteful setting.
Sydney Opera House
Yes, it’s a cliché; but you can’t fly a couple of thousand miles without seeing this modern icon? With a design as recognisable as Stonehenge or the Taj Mahal, the Opera House is a grand addition to the city, and equally worth a visit whether you venture inside or not. Those who just want to marvel at its shell will enjoy a lingering walk around the edges; while opera buffs among you will be treated to some of the most spectacular performances outside of Milan.
St George Open Air Cinema
Just across the Royal Botanic Gardens, in sight of the famous Opera House, sits a Sydney tradition. Taking advantage of the warm Australian weather, the Open Air Cinema has become something of an institution. Not limited to the culture-set, screenings take in the best modern cinema; ranging from Anna Karenina to Les Miserables via Lincoln and Life of Pi. Kick back with a drink, watch the spectacular sunset and then dive into a cinematic adventure, Aussie style.
Kings Cross Gentlemen’s Clubs
Not to put too finer point on it, but Sydney is home to some of the world’s most-exclusive gentlemen’s venues. Largely eschewing the cheap thrills of London’s joints, and the self-loathing decadence of NYC, Sydney’s infamous Kings Cross district aims to harken back to a bygone era; where men smoked cigars and pondered over port while fair young maidens took off their knickers. OK, so there’s no getting around it’s inherently nature, but a quick wander is a must for any first-time visitor; if only to see the genuine class with which these establishments have been done up.
Joe Sachel is a writer and travelling business blogger, residing in Sydney.