24-Hour Room Service: Diamant, Sydney, Australia
Saturday 22 November 2008
As boutique-hotel interiors go, the Diamant isn't just sober, it's committed to its own 12-step programme. There isn't a single statement-making piece of furniture to be seen, notwithstanding some flirtatious low-level lighting fixtures in the hallways and a particularly shiny lobby. The exterior is equally sober; it could easily be mistaken for a corporation HQ.
All quite surprising, given that this is the latest addition (it opened last year) to the Eight Hotels group, which has a reputation for low-budget, edgy hotels, usually big on lobby flash, if not so big on bedroom floor space. The Diamant, just across the road from sister hotels the Kirketon and the Altamont, has much bigger rooms than Eight regulars will be used to. It's also much more up-to-the-minute (its sisters are about to be radically refurbished), with iPod docking stations and 42in LCD wall-mounted TVs that drive you barmy by playing Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me" every time you turn them on. Could I use some exotic booze, Frank? After 10 plays, yes I could.
Everything at the Diamant is shiny and swish, or wipe-clean-leather plush. The staff are suitably sunshine Sydney-friendly, and after a 23-hour flight, the absence of an all-singing, all-dancing decor may be what you're looking for. It's just that the conservative mink-grey everywhere is a few centimetres to the wrong side of sterile.
One of the nicer elements of the Diamant is the generous outdoor space – courtyard rooms have excellent- sized terraces with garden furniture – in a city where the sun so often shines, this doubles your living space. The Diamant's ground-floor restaurant, Penny's Lane, is even more conformist than its bedrooms (think poshed-up provincial business hotel breakfast room), but again the staff are a delight, the food is well-executed comfort fare, and there's a great list of mainly southern-hemisphere reds and whites. It's a good culinary retreat from the party dregs of Kings Cross, even if you're not a guest.
Diamant Hotel, 14 Kings Cross Road, Potts Point, Sydney (00 61 2 9295 8888; diamant.com.au). Though it's technically Potts Point, this is very much a Kings Cross hotel, just behind the landmark Coca-Cola neon hoarding. Yet the location is as fantastic as it is insalubrious: you can be at the hotel less than 30 minutes after leaving the Qantas baggage carousel and jumping on the CityRail train. Although there's no denying that its King Cross locale is convenient (you can walk comfortably to the business district, to breakfast at the original branch of Bills in Darlinghurst, or to the shops in chic Woolahara), it's also a little on the degenerate side – awash with neon and sketchy bars full of binge-drinking backpackers. Think Times Square, back in the day.
Time from international airport: A taxi from the airport should cost less than A$50 (£22) and take half an hour, while the CityRail from the airport to Kings Cross, changing at Central, takes the same time and costs A$13.40 (£6).
The brand-new beds and high-quality linen are great, and the bathrooms are perfectly adequate, although the shower heads are slightly too low, long and jut out obtrusively. Although dull, the furniture is very comfy.
Freebies: guests get free use of the excellent Fitness First gym across the road. The Kevin Murphy bathroom products come in handsome, suitably Diamant-greige, plastic-cube bottles.
Keeping in touch: direct-dial phones with voicemail in rooms. Wi-Fi drops out at the far end of the restaurant, and, while fast, isn't free: A$10 (£4.50) for 24 hours.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles from A$400 (£178), room only. Off-peak rates are 35-70 per cent lower.
I'm not paying that: the Kirketon, 220 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, Sydney (00 61 2 9332 2011; kirketon. com.au) has double rooms from A$220 (£98).
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