Relaunching with a multi-million dollar refurbishment
Conveniently located in the heart of Sydney's entertainment district, Mercure Sydney Central has unveiled a fresh, new look. Splashes of deep purple and magenta are prominent in all 517 rooms, ranging from Standard and Privilege Rooms to Studio Suites.
4-star Mercure was built for the 2000 Olympics and accordingly plays on a thematic exploration of Olympian visual with a diving board at the top of the building. A rooftop pool, gym and sauna ensure a fantastic view of the Sydney Central urbanscape.
I stay in one of Mercure's Privilege Rooms, which is fully equipped with a Nespresso machine complete with four coffee pods (two decaf) and milk frother, complimentary wireless internet, chocolate and a bottle of Evian. There's also a pillow menu, allowing for a choice of rubber, contoured, V or feather pillows. The king bed is incredibly comfortable – I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.
The entire hotel has been revamped save for the conference centre, which will commence refurbishments in January. The conference centre is ideal for business events accommodating 400 people, and another 200 on the outdoor terrace.
Mercure's General Manager, Greg Brady said, "There is a remarkable energy in the area with new constructions such as the Frank Gehry building leading the way. There are new offices, restaurants and retail outlets opening all the time, and in the longer term, Central will once again become Sydney's hub for a city tram service."
Eoghan Lewis from Sydney Architecture Walks takes us on a fantastic journey discussing the history and architecture around Central. We make a large loop around the Mercure, touching on the surrounding suburbs of Chippendale, Surry Hills, Redfern and Ultimo.
Eoghan notes that Sydney wasn't a planned city – there's no rhyme or reason to the way the streets were constructed. And so it's no surprise that the winding streets of Sydney are erratic and at times even confusing. The Mercure stands tall on Railway Square, a plaza where George Street meets Pitt Street, Lee Street and Broadway – ensuring that there's easy access to get around the city from the hotel.
Mercure is only a few minutes' walk away from Central Station – a station that connects to every train line in Sydney, including the airport and interstate journeys. Just outside the hotel, a flurry of bus stops will take you to surf at Coogee, roam around bohemian Newtown or delve into Italian food haven in Leichhardt. Located near popular tourist destinations like the Powerhouse Museum, Capitol Square and Chinatown, Mercure is also a stone's throw away from the thriving food and bar scene of Surry Hills.
Public artwork by Merilyn Fairskye are splattered across Railway Square, including four towers of different colours, symbolising the four elements. This is why the restaurant at Mercure is now called Four Elements. After our two-hour walk exploring the surrounds of the Mercure with Sydney Architecture Walks, we sit down for a top-notch degustation with matched wines from an all-Australian Flavours of the Cellar wine list.
Delicately prepared by chef Rakesh Francis Rozario, the five courses are meticulously presented. We enjoy blue cheese crackling, tomato consommé and even housemade ricotta with whey flatbread. Please note that these dishes were especially prepared for us; however a simplified version is available on the Four Elements menu. The pork belly with scallop tortellini and caramelised pear puree is elegant and well-balanced. The pear was cooked for four hours until it caramelised itself.
The macadamia crusted barramundi on a bed of risotto with fennel and other herbs is a substantial dish and wonderfully complemented by a glass of Robert Oatley's chardonnay. The wine is a great match for fennel and lingers with a beautiful spicy after-taste.
We also enjoy a truffle infused Rangers Valley tenderloin, confit carrot with fondant potato and wine jus. Carnivores will adore this dish. The culinary adventure ended with a dessert of apples poached in sugar syrup with spices and mirin, then topped with watermelon sorbet. I found the sorbet a bit too reminiscent of bubblegum, but I don't think the rest of the group were concerned about this.
I retire to my Privilege Room at sleep soundly, then wake up to a delightful breakfast buffet. Offering breakfast staples like eggs, bacon, cereal and fresh fruit, the breakfast buffet at Mercure also features more exotic options like congee, fried rice and even Indian dishes.
On your next visit to Sydney, book into one of the newly revamped rooms at the Mercure and make sure you join one of the highly engaging and educational Sydney Architecture Walks.