Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby. Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs.
Travellers will feel like locals at Paramount House Hotel, a collaboration between café kings Russell Beard and Mark Dundon, Ping Jin Ng and Breathe Architecture. A neighbourhood hotel in creative Surry Hills, this boutique, 29-room stay is in the heritage-listed 1940 Paramount House building, formerly the Sydney headquarters of Paramount Picture Studios and its adjacent film storage warehouse. A copper-clad façade greets guests and Paramount Coffee Project café serves top-notch coffee in the atrium. The hotel lies beyond, pouring welcome drinks from its concrete reception counter, which doubles as a small boutique selling own-label apparel and accessories. Featuring local paintings, street art and plants, the high-ceilinged, industrial-chic lobby is minimal but warm.
If you want to appear to be in the inner circle, you have to know her first name. If you want to understand what’s happening in town, you must at least know her surname. Kym Ellery is where it’s happening these days. Having launched her label in 2007, this Perth-born former student at Central Saint Martins in London – who looks like a model herself – defines styles and dresses young women as beautiful as she is. She has also built up the right partnerships – the one with Graz Studio eyeglasses gave birth to a modern-day classic. The former stylist for Russh magazine – the Bible for those in the know – adores French design, short-short but very voluminous A-line dresses and bold, graphic shapes. Everything is chic, yet with an air of casual carelessness. Buyers are gaga for her architectural tailoring, structured yet relaxed silhouettes, memorable colours and luxe materials. While at her Paddington boutique, visitors should be sure to look upwards and see how she drew inspiration from the ceiling-floor inversion already explored by Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf in Milan. That’s a Parisian parquet floor over your head: a smart way to keep fans head over heels?
Shooting straight to super-hot status, this fabulously romantic, Gallic-glam restaurant is by the Swillhouse Group bar czars and chef Dan Pepperell. Descend the stairs to a huge candle-lit, wood-panelled warren, alive with music and nostalgic allure. If the dining room’s theatrical, French-poster-peppered interiors don’t make you fall in love with Hubert, then the sociable sharing menu and impressive wine list will. Trad French classics star here, albeit with imaginative complements, from a whole chicken fricassée to bavette steak to clams Normande, mopped up with Pommes Anna and chased by crème caramel. Alternatively, Bar Pincer on the right serves an edited version of the restaurant’s menu, ditching the big share plates but adding a few tasty exclusives such as burger, steak frites and duck-liver parfait, all served in evocative booths with classic cocktails.
White Rabbit Gallery
White Rabbit boasts one of the world’s biggest collections of 21st-century Chinese art. Of course, the MCA and Art Gallery of New South Wales put up stiff competition but, as Alice might have said, the White Rabbit is well worth following. This internationally renowned institution puts on two annual exhibitions in its crisp, white four-floor, 200-square-metre space, featuring remarkable pieces from a 1,400-strong collection of work by more than 500 artists. Examples include the Jeeps and BMWs “sculpted” from wire mesh by Shi Jindian and the hand-painted sunflower seeds by Ai Weiwei – owner Judith Neilson bought 500 kilos long before Tate Modern got round to exhibiting them. An unusual philanthropist, Neilson has been interested in Chinese art since the 1990s, but it was only when she met artist Wang Zhiyuan, who came to Sydney from Beijing, and took him on as her art tutor that she travelled to observe the country’s contemporary scene. As acquisitions accumulated, she and her then husband Kerr (head of an investment fund) started thinking about creating a foundation to house them.
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