Independent Families: 'Where can we stay with our children in central Sydney?'


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 suitable family-friendly accommodation somewhere fairly central, which 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 bleeding out at its edges into a dull suburban sprawl, central Sydney 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 a toddler to explore. There are wide, buggy-friendly pavements, pelican crossings at every intersection of its Manhattan-style road grid, and a short-but-sweet, seven-stop underground rail service that rings the centre.

It's hard, however, to escape the ubiquity of the tower block. Central real estate is so precious that the overwhelming majority of hotels and serviced, self-catering apartments – a justly popular form of short-stay accommodation – are housed in exactly the characterless high-rises you want to avoid. Still, such a crowded market means that if you close your eyes to the aesthetics there are bargains to be had, particularly for low-season visitors. For instance, in August the Oaks Maestri Towers (0061 29267 9977; www.theoaksgroup.com.au) on Sussex Street has smart, one-bedroom apartments, with a roll-away bed for your daughter, a lounge and fully equipped kitchen, from A$207 (£87) per night. The building is just a couple of minutes' walk from Darling Harbour in the CBD.

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 tourist brochures – though scrubbed-up and self-consciously cute might be more accurate. The Rendezvous Stafford (0061 29251 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 much 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 (£149) 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 is quieter here, but there is still fast access to the city centre via the suburban CityRail service – the train from Edgecliff station to Town Hall in the centre takes just eight minutes (0061 28202 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 Rentahome (0061 29319 0888; www.rent-a-home.com.au), which put you in touch with private owners. For example, Ozstayz lists an architecture award-winning two bedroom apartment – Tibet House – in Woollahra. The bright, infinitely stylish property rents for A$235 (£99) per night.

Alternatively, Rentahome 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 (£433) a week in August (although there is a two-week minimum stay at this property). Paddington's main drag is Oxford Street, a concatenation of shops, bars and cafés that hosts a vibrant fashion and food market every Saturday. The surrounding leafy streets 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, directly south of the city centre. Also available through Rentahome, 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 (£782) 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 and George Streets.

For more information on Sydney, visit www.sydneyaustralia.com

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email crusoe@independent.co.uk

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice