Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Old Sydney & The Explore the Rocks Package

Hotel:  Holiday Inn Old Sydney

Location:  The Rocks, Sydney, Australia

Room:  King Superior Room

Perfect for: Couples, Families.. anyone wanting to explore Sydney!

Category: 4 Star

If you’re planning a trip to Sydney and want to stay in the heart of the city, the Holiday Inn Old Sydney fits that bill.  Located in Sydney’s historic precinct, The Rocks, the Holiday Inn is close to Sydney city’s main attractions and with the Holiday Inn you can Explore the Rocks and get a feel of the beauty that is Sydney. It is also a heritage listed site.

How to get to Holiday Inn Old Sydney

Getting to and from the hotel from the airport is simple. Simply jump on a train to Circular Quay which takes only around 15 minutes and from there the hotel is only a 5-minute walk. That is certainly the quickest way to get there and the only way I would recommend in peak hour traffic, but then again, renting a car can be a great idea depending on what you may have planned and the hotel has on-site parking which is always a bonus.

Our welcome experience…

We arrived at the hotel early, as we were participating in the Rocks Walking Tour. We were greeted by Stephanie and Jun and they were extremely welcoming and accommodating. The hotel kindly stored our luggage and let us park our car in the car park until it was time to check in.

Explore the Rocks Package

We experienced the Explore the Rocks Package. It is the best package to choose if you’re wanting to discover the history behind The Rocks. The package includes:

Continue reading for detailed information on the hotel and the walking tour.

The Room…

The King Superior Room was spacious and comfortable for the two of us.

What is probably the best part of the room is, of course, the view. We were in room 601 and you can see the harbour from your bed and if you look directly out, you can see the Opera House and Circular Quay, or a cruise ship, or both like we got to see!

The room has everything you need and expect in a hotel room, plus a bit more a bit of luxury with robes, slippers and toiletries in the bathroom if required.


Breakfast is served in the Playfair Terrace Restaurant which overlooks the lobby. The variety of the buffet was great and I was happy to see that the chef cooks eggs to order, which for me is an absolute must for a hotel breakfast! After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Lunch and dinner are also served at the restaurant and the menu includes a variety of seasonal menu items.

We decided to choose the Australian Dinner Special. You’re probably wondering what is an Aussie dinner special? Well, the meal consists of Kangaroo fillet, kumara mash, broccolini and a glass of Australian Wine. I have had Kangaroo before, but Jenna hadn’t so it was her first time trying it (and for those who know Jenna, know she is pretty fussy…). The kangaroo was lovely, even Jenna enjoyed it! It goes nicely with the glass of Australian red.

Tip: Kangaroo is best-ordered medium-rare to rare as it is quite a lean meat which means if overcooked can become tough to eat.

There is also a bar area in the foyer which serves drinks and snacks. It’s a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring the area. There is also games there for the kids.. or the big kids if you’re like us!

Health and Fitness…

The hotel has a lovely heated outdoor pool, so if you fancy a few laps with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge or Opera House as your backdrop, then this is the place to do it!

Hotel Grounds

There is only one word to use to describe the views from the rooftop pool and spa area… and that is AMAZING!

When we first arrived, there was a large cruise liner docked in Circular Quay, which is still lovely to see but it did block the Opera House… Luckily enough, the cruise ships are generally docked for around 12 hours. This time she sailed into the sunset around 6 pm and then our view became even more spectacular!

The pool area was busy during the day and the evening. It is a lovely place to unwind and relax. Pool towels are available from the pool area, along with a vending machine and separate bathroom. The great part is there is a pool menu so you can pick up the phone supplied and put an order in for some lunch or dinner and some cold beverages without having to leave the rooftop!

Good to know…

There is an on-site guest self-laundry which is fantastic if you’re travelling and haven’t been able to do your washing. Not a lot of hotels have this option so it is worth mentioning as I know most people after travelling for a while like to make use of this facility. It is much more convenient than finding a laundromat elsewhere and also much cheaper as well!

The hotel also has a car park which is fantastic for an inner city hotel. It is valet parking and costs $45 per night (as at January 2017)

Tourist attractions at The Rocks, within walking distance from the Holiday Inn Old Sydney

If you’re staying at The Holiday Inn Old Sydney, you will be able to explore the historical centre of Sydney. Within walking distance, you will be able to see:

The Rocks Walking Tour: As part of our Explore the Rocks package, we joined The Rocks Walking Tour for a historical tour of the area. Sally, our guide was extremely informative. For more details on the walking tour, read our full post here.

Here is a short video of The Rocks Historic Walking Tour and the Holiday Inn Old Sydney.

The Rocks Markets: The Rocks markets are on each week. Friday night is the food market and Saturday and Sunday between 10 am – 45m you have the famous Rocks Markets. At the top end of George Street towards the back of the markets, you will find the delicious street food. We ordered a few things, but you can’t go past the pizza! It is hand made in front of you and cooked in a wood fire oven. Authentic Italian, made by Italians – perfecto!

We did a spot of shopping while we were there!  There is something for everyone at these markets.


Sydney Harbour Bridge: There are so many vantage points to get a good snap of the bridge. From the hotel, you can walk in many different directions to get all different aspects of this incredible structure. You can even climb the 200 stairs to get to the top of the pylon for incredible views of the Bridge, Opera House and city!

Sydney Opera House: The Opera House is definitely one of a kind. You can walk to the Opera House in next to no time and the walk is pretty much flat.

Westfield Tower: If you’re looking for a view over the entire city, check out our post on the Sydney Skywalk and the observation tower.

Darling Harbour: Darling Harbour always has plenty going on. You can spend ages just walking around and enjoying the scenery. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, a fantastic park for families to spend hours and of course the harbour!

Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Centre & Madame Tussauds: While you’re in Darling Harbour, why not check out these attractions.  Perfect for everyone, but particularly families – it will keep the kids entertained for hours!

Royal Botanical Gardens: The gardens are beautiful. If you have time to walk around and enjoy the gardens, you will be pleased you did.  You must walk around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for a spectacular view of the entire city, Opera House and Harbour Bridge!

Tourist attractions around Sydney, a short distance on public transport or a drive

Within a short distance by public transport or by car, you can see:

Taronga Zoo: This is probably one of the best Zoo’s we have been to.  A short ferry ride from Circular Quay will take you to the gondola for the zoo. The zoo is fantastic and the views the giraffes have over the harbour bridge and opera house – superb! If you have a day free in Sydney, be sure to check it out.

Manly Beach: A 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay can bring you to Manly Beach. And the beauty of this is that you don’t need a car to see it all. When you get off the ferry, you head straight to the beach and can enjoy a nice coastal walk over to Shelly beach and have a swim and relax.

Manly Sea Life Aquarium & Shark Dive: Fancy a swim with the sharks while you’re in town? For more information on swimming with the sharks, read our post here.

Checking out…

Checking out was quick and easy. There is an express check out option if you’re looking to duck out quickly or have somewhere to be!

Above and beyond…

Stephanie at the front reception was fantastic. It is like she knew what we were going to ask before we asked it! She was super helpful and made our stay that much easier.

The not so good…

Our only criticism (and it’s a small one) is that at peak times (such as Sunday morning), there should be two egg chefs!  I told you – only minor but the chef making the eggs was pretty busy which meant for a small wait.  The wait was worth it though!

The verdict…

If you’re visiting Sydney and want to be central to everything that’s going on… then this hotel is perfect. It is a family friendly hotel and in a super convenient spot that you can walk just about everywhere.

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Here are a few more snaps of the hotel and grounds.

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta