With 2022 drawing to a close, many of us are thinking ahead and getting our travel plans sorted for the year ahead. Having closed its borders for the majority of the pandemic, there’s plenty awaiting you in the New South Wales capital.
From new hotels to culture galore, here’s what’s new in Sydney:
1 Neon night life
Be transported to the vibrant streets of Seoul at HONEY in Darling Square, where pumping K-Pop music and bright neon lights set the tone for a night to remember. The kitchen serves up great fried chicken and pocha (street food) cuisine with a twist, like a bulgogi pizza or seafood tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes). Paired with cold beer, soju and colourful cocktails, it’s an experience made to be shared with friends.
2 Med vibes on the roof
The historic Sussex Hotel is now home to a stylish rooftop bar, whisking diners away to the Mediterranean with travertine tiles, lush flowerbeds, olive trees and a canopy of grapevines. The 200sqm Sussex Rooftop is just metres from Barangaroo and Wynyard Station, yet it’s a quiet and peaceful oasis. The menu is also Med-inspired, with mezze share plates, salted cod fritters, chicken shawarma and grilled swordfish skewers, plus a host of summery cocktails.
3 Mexican from Maybe Sammy
A new place to fiesta is set to launch from the team behind award-winning small bar Maybe Sammy: El Primo Sanchez, a laid-back Mexican bar in Paddington.
Taking over the ground floor of Oxford Street stalwart The Rose Hotel, the new bar will serve tacos and traditional snacks with a playful vibe. Expect the same Sammy-style innovative cocktails reimagined with Latin American ingredients, and served in traditional jarrito clay jugs, as well as an impressive selection of mezcal and agave spirits.
4 First drinks at BrewDog
Scottish beer behemoth BrewDog is opening its first Sydney outpost just in time for summer parties. Taking over a historic locomotive bay in South Eveleigh, the sprawling brewery will have space for almost 1,000 people spread across an indoor dining space, bar and huge beer garden.
There will be 40 beers on tap, including the BrewDog range, guest takeovers and collaborations with local breweries, plus cider, spirits, wine, cocktails and a solid alcohol-free range. The food menu features classics like wings, pizza and burgers, and more than half will be plant-based.
5 Indigo for izakaya
Continuing Sydney’s love affair with tiny Japanese eateries is Darlinghurst’s Nomidokoro Indigo. A sake bar and izakaya inspired by the buzzy laneways of Tokyo, everything on the menu at this intimate 20-seat eatery is made in-house, like the dashi broth used to flavour agedashi tofu and the miso that marinates salmon, wagyu or chicken. It’s all designed to be shared and paired with more than 20 traditional sakes.
6 A new home for Toko
A sleek basement on George Street is the new home of Surry Hills institution Toko; it closed the doors to its Crown Street location in April after 15 years. The feel of the original restaurant has been preserved, using the same interior designer, chef, sommelier and many of the staff. The dedicated sushi counter also remains, as well as signature dishes like Moreton Bay bug tempura, miso eggplant and scampi nigiri with foie gras.
7 So chic, so Charles
Enter an elegant European brasserie at The Charles, with tableside saucing, caviar service and a dessert trolley. From the same team behind Lavender Bay favourite Loulou Bistro, it’s all designed to celebrate old school charms without any of the stuffiness that goes with it. Set inside a palatial Art Deco building on King Street, The Charles comprises an all-day brasserie and bar, with sister restaurant Tiva opening on the ground floor soon. Don’t go past the signature dish, the classic French pressed duck.
8 Opening date set for W Sydney
The W Sydney hotel will welcome its first guests from October 2023. Occupying a distinctive ribbon-shaped glass building at the edge of Darling Harbour, the five-star hotel will be one of the largest in the city with 585 rooms across 25 floors, a heated infinity pool, two-storey rooftop bar, signature AWAY spa and IMAX theatre in the complex below.
9 Pullman comes to Penrith
A new oasis of luxury is set to launch in Western Sydney as five-star, 153-room Pullman Hotel is scheduled to open in Penrith in late 2023. It will be part of the $1 billion redevelopment of the Penrith Panthers precinct, which includes a 1,000-person conference centre, community centre, and business and entertainment venues. The Pullman Sydney Penrith will be just 20 minutes from the new Western Sydney Airport, opening in 2026, and across the road from a 30,000-seat sports stadium opening in 2025.
10 Fresh look for Manly Pacific
It’s all contemporary sophistication and beachside luxury at the recently revamped Manly Pacific hotel. The highlight of the top-to-toe $30 million transformation is a new rooftop pool along with the addition of nine luxurious ocean-view suites with access to dedicated wellness services. The property is designed to appeal both to visiting tourists and Sydney locals looking for a decadent staycation.
11 Tribute to an icon
A new exhibition will celebrate the life and work of Australian fashion icon Carla Zampatti AC, OMRI. Zampatti Powerhouse opens on 24 November at the Powerhouse Museum and is the first show dedicated to the designer, business leader and philanthropist; covering five decades of her career. It will feature more than 100 outfits from her collections, plus bespoke pieces loaned from high profile clients, and an immersive audio-visual presentation that includes heartfelt interviews from her family, friends and colleagues.
12 Qtopia tells Sydney’s stories
The transformative Qtopia, Sydney’s first queer museum, will open ahead of Sydney WorldPride in 2023. It will be a place of education, memory and celebration for the LGBTQIA+ community, reflecting on era-defining issues like the HIV/AIDS pandemic, marriage equality and queer participation in contemporary Australia. The museum’s first exhibition space has recently been announced: the iconic Bandstand in Green Square Park, close to Ward 17 at St Vincent’s Hospital, famous as the first dedicated HIV/AIDS ward in Australia.