Checking In | The Crystal Brook Albion Boutique Hotel in Surry Hills, Sydney

This solid, stylish and comfortable boutique hotel in the trendy Surry Hills neighbourhood is the ideal spot when in Sydney

They say location is everything when choosing a base to call home in a big city, and Crystal Brook Albion is pretty much perfect in that respect. Located in Surry Hills, aka the Hackney of Sydney, you’re surrounded by locals rather than tourists and with plenty to do right on your doorstep.

As the black metal electronic gate opens, I get a glimpse of a very design-led, modern hotel with a concrete courtyard smartly dressed with giant potted plants and golden lights strung overhead. Two zebras sit top to tail against a black and white striped backdrop on the artwork just behind the glass-fronted door.

Inside is inviting; it’s cool and timeless yet modern with bohemian-style lounge seating next to the check-in desk. I’m on the third of four floors in an Urban Luxe room, which means a spacious 40m², one-bed luxury apartment that’s part of the property’s new extension and overlooks the neighbouring church as well as the courtyard. Inside is a king-size bed, a kitchenette, a comfy chair, huge windows, a super spacious bathroom, and all the usual comforts, a home from home.

The rooftop is a very nice touch, with landscaped gardens and alfresco seating overlooking Surry Hills. Surrounded by olive trees and flowers, it’s an excellent spot to watch the sun go down with a drink. There isn’t restaurant in the hotel but they do have the Honesty Bar, their take on an open bar where you keep track of what you’ve had and pay at the end of your stay. Featuring lots of different cold drinks, including fizz, wine, canned cocktails and softies, and gourmet snacks, I used this to get my first coffee in the morning (en route to a workout to burn off the results of a pastry addiction) and to have a cold local beer of an eve. In the morning, you can help yourself to a breakfast bag that you can fill with fresh pastries, muffins and fruit, perfect if you are on the go and want to snack later.

There are heaps (yep, I said it) of places close by well worth checking out, from boutique and designer stores to amazing coffee shops like Jackie’s, Parchment, The Little Marionette, Edition Roasters and Ada’s Affair. For food the choice is just as strong – insane pastries from AP Bakery are just a short walk away and the rooftop of the Paramount Hotel also does a great breakfast and excellent coffee. One of my favourite dinner spots has to be Poly, a cool restaurant and wine bar with interesting and delicious small plates, like its famous (and incredible) crispy potato with salted egg yolk. 10 Williams Street is super close with a cute Italian-inspired menu and great natural wines, and Clam Bar, which still walkable and a bit of a hot spot, does amazing spaghetti and clams. There’s also Nour, an upmarket restaurant doing modern food with plenty going on around it. The food scene in Sydney is great.

With 35 guest rooms, Crystal Brook Albion is a cool boutique hotel that’s in the middle of all the action for foodies and city explorers.

21 Little Albion St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia