Independent Families: 'Does Sydney have any homely self-catering?'


Q. We are planning a trip to Sydney in August to see the city with our daughter, who'll be almost three. Can you suggest some suitable family-friendly accommodation, somewhere fairly central, that isn't a soulless, modern tower-block hotel? A self-catering apartment would be ideal, but we don't know where to begin.

Stuart Daniel, London

A. Although Sydney bleeds out at its edges into dull surburban sprawl, the city centre is richly compact. At just over two miles from the rather misleadingly named Central Station in the south, to the Harbour Bridge in the north, it could have been designed for exploring with a toddler. There are wide, buggy-friendly pavements, pelican crossings at every intersection of the Manhattan-style road grid, and a short but sweet seven-stop underground rail service that rings the centre.

It's hard, however, to escape tower blocks. Central real estate values are so high that the majority of hotels and serviced, self-catering apartments – a justly popular form of short-stay accommodation – are housed in exactly the kind of characterless high-rises you want to avoid. Still, such a crowded market does mean – if you close your eyes to the aesthetics – that there are bargains to be had, particularly for low-season visitors.

For instance, in August, Oaks Maestri Towers (00 61 2 9267 9977; www.theoaksgroup.com.au) on Sussex Street has smart, one-bedroom apartments, with lounge, kitchen and a rollaway bed for your daughter, from A$207 (£88) per night. The building is just a couple of minutes' walk from Darling Harbour in the central business district.

At the other end of town are the cramped, cobbled streets of The Rocks, home to some of the oldest houses in the city and typically described as "quaint" in the tourist brochures – although scrubbed-up and self-consciously cute might be more accurate. The Rendezvous Stafford (00 61 2 9251 6711; www.rendezvoushotels.com.au) on Harrington Street, with exemplary views across the water to the Opera House, is a low-rise apartment complex fronted by two self-contained, 19th-century terraced cottages. These have a more homey, cosy feel than any serviced apartment, though you'll pay a lot more for the privilege of self-catering in a slice of historic Sydney: from A$262 (£111) a night low-season for a studio, to A$354 (£150) for a converted terrace house.

You could also consider renting a holiday home – typically a renovated Victorian cottage or art deco apartment – in the city's inner eastern suburbs of Paddington, Darlinghurst or Woollahra. These areas have largely retained their village feel, with a hotchpotch of small shops and once-modest artisan homes, now highly prized for their painted plasterwork and lacy wrought-iron balconies. Life's quieter here, but there's still easy access to the city centre via the suburban CityRail service – the train from Edgecliff station, near Paddington, to Town Hall in the centre takes just eight minutes (00 61 2 8202 2000; www.cityrail.info).

The only drawback is that there isn't a huge market in Sydney for this type of accommodation, so you'll have to do some digging – try Tourism Australia's search facility (www2.australia.com), or rental agencies such as Ozstayz (online only, www.ozstays.com) or Rent-A-Home (00 61 2 9319 0888; www.rent-a-home.com.au), which put you in touch direct with private owners. For example, Ozstayz lists an architecture-award-winning two-bedroom apartment called Tibet House in Woollahra. The bright, infinitely stylish property rents for A$235 (£100) per night.

Alternatively, Rent-A-Home has a pretty, newly renovated terrace house on Gipp Street in Paddington. Flat-fronted, with painted wooden shutters and a charming patio garden, it has two bedrooms facing each other on the first floor, a kitchen, laundry room and sitting room downstairs, and two small but smart bathrooms, all for a reasonable A$1,030 (£437) a week in August (although there is a two-week minimum stay at this property). Paddington's main drag is Oxford Street, a flamboyant conglomeration of shopping, bars and cafés that hosts a vibrant fashion and food market every Saturday. The leafy streets around are also worth exploring, being particularly well-stocked with art galleries and odd little craft shops.

Or, if your budget allows, you may prefer a larger, more lavishly furnished two-bedroom house in Surry Hills, which is directly south of the city centre. Also available through Rent-A-Home, this has a wooden, fitted kitchen with a distinctly Balinese feel, an indoor water garden, lounge, study and separate dining room, and a lovely, covered outdoor eating area with a barbecue, for A$1,885 (£800) a week in low season.

Wherever you settle on, avoid buying your food and other supplies from any of Sydney's hundreds of "convenience stores". These may well be convenient – in the city centre there's often one or more on every block – but the prices are anything but, with customers often paying up to three times what they would elsewhere. Stock up instead at local markets, or even at Woolworths, the Sainsbury's of Australia. You'll find large branches, carrying all the basics plus very high-quality fruit and veg, in Paddington, Surry Hills, Potts Point and – right in the centre of the action – by the town hall on the corner of Park Street and George Street.

For more information on Sydney, visit www.sydneyaustralia.com. Send family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all