Gold List award winner Capella Sydney offers ‘hidden luxury’ in the harbour city

Entrance to Capella Hotel Sydney. Image credit: Timothy Kaye.
Entrance to Capella Hotel Sydney. Image credit: Timothy Kaye.

As Australia’s first Capella hotel and resort, the judges of the 2023 Gold List Awards were impressed with this new hotel’s thoughtful restoration

Capella Sydney took home the trophy for Best New Hotel Design at the 2023 Gold List Awards, and for good reason. This new property, and the first Capella hotel in Australia, is the result of a mammoth restoration of the former Department of Education in the heart of the city, and beautifully merges architectural features with a contemporary design aesthetic.

The restoration of the 1900s Edwardian Baroque-style building honours the site’s history, heritage and architectural grandeur and was transformed by Make Architects, while the interiors have been reimagined by BAR Studio and infused with contemporary details, amenities and facilities. The intricacies of the sandstone façade in this heritage-listed building have been meticulously preserved, while the interior design has been either renovated or repurposed.

Sprawled across eight floors, Capella Sydney showcases 192 guestrooms and suites that maximise natural light, space and volume – with the rooms starting at 46 square metres. Each guestroom features bespoke furniture, accentuated with textural elements, namely plush leather chairs, velvet cushions, sleek marble tables, and countertops. The bedding is made up of luxurious pillow-top beds, adorned with custom Italian Frette linen and exclusive Haeckel’s amenities.

The blend between modernity and tradition is notable in the semi-public spaces in the hotel. The wellness facilities at Capella Sydney have been reimagined in the Department of Education’s former art gallery, with facilities that include heated swimming and vitality pools, a fitness centre, a yoga platform and Auriga Spa.

The Spa allows guests to treat themselves to a bespoke treatment or one of the cutting-edge contemporary practices available on the menu. A modern rendition of a Victorian-era drinking den takes place at the classical hotel lounge McRae Bar and the menu at ground-floor restaurant Brasserie 1930 highlights the best in Australian produce and supports small-batch farmers and growers.

Capella Sydney also possesses a strong connection to the land. The restoration of the heritage-listed building was conducted to minimise its ecological impact and the location of the hotel is minutes away from Sydney’s iconic landmarks, namely the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Paying homage to Australia’s culture, Capella Sydney commissioned indigenous artist, Judy Watson to respond to the building’s heritage and First Nations’ perspective on land and sea cultivation. Judy’s artworks line the walls of the Loftus Street entrance and are displayed in the original frames of the directory board.


Express your interest in the Gold List Awards 2024 here.

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