Heading to Sydney any time soon? If you're looking for an elegant, original hotel experience, I can highly recommend The Albert in Mosman, which opened in February this year, the first luxury hotel for the area.
The Albert has stayed open during the COVID-19 crisis, offering a refuge for those who want to stay close to the city. Social distancing measures are in place, and extra cleaning occurs throughout the hotel, to ensure hygiene standards and guests' health is prioritised.
Mosman is one of Sydney's most prestigious suburbs, 35 minutes from the airport, close to ferry terminals and the Taronga Zoo. It's also a quick walk to Balmoral Beach where visitors can stroll along the walkway over the water, then dine in one of the beautiful restaurants to restore the stamina for the walk home, up the hill.
The original Victorian building was built in 1886, a stately home reminiscent of the architectural style of the era. The property was purchased in 2016 by the Emerald Hotel group and the merger of old and new began. Architect, Andrew Tzannes, and interior architect, Tess Regan, have created a luxe boutique hotel with 26 different rooms that combine just enough elements of traditional and modern style in both sections that it segues effortlessly the result is an elegant and comfortable 'home' away from home for guests.
The Albert purports to "relish the golden age of travel" and my room, the Kearey Suite in the Heritage section of the hotel, is a delightful mix of elegance and grandeur, without being excessive. Everything about the decor is luxe - sheer drapes frame the windows, with thicker blackout curtains to create darkness if preferred. Carpets and polished floorboards underfoot are sumptuous, as is the velvet bedhead. A king-sized bed, custom made for the Emerald Hotels group, takes centre stage in the room and is dressed with quality bed linen.
A collection of old black and white photos hangs on a deep green wall; a striking collection of old motor cars, beach scenes and landscape shots, a reminder of the hotel's history. On the bed lies a leather-bound binder; a compendium filled with interesting facts about the hotel and the area.
The wide decorative veranda looks inviting, and afternoon welcome cocktails arrive Just after I do. Evening drinks and nibbles on the terrace are put on every evening, but I decide to visit a pasta bar in Mosman Square, a few minutes walk up the road.
On my return, the bath beckons, and I heed its call willingly. I love the contrast between the suite's rich charcoal walls and the brightness of the white bathroom tiles, with the copper bath taps and spouts. With two levels of lighting, the lower one is perfect for a relaxing soak in the tub. A handy shelf next to the deep bath holds a container of bath salts. I use the tiny wooden scoop to add them to the water. A plush velour robe hangs in the bathroom, to cocoon me. I'm relaxed and sleepy. The TV can stream Netflix from my phone or I can sign in to my Google account to watch Youtube but, frankly, I'm relishing the peace and wouldn't interrupt it for anything.
I wake the next morning with an early meeting to attend and wish that I could stay and enjoy the room until the late 11am checkout. I hurry to breakfast on the terrace and help myself to the buffet. Due to COVID-19, the breakfast buffet has been removed but guests can order freshly cooked meals off the menu from the dedicated kitchen staff. A coffee machine with pods is available. For a visitor from Melbourne, it's passable and gives the caffeine hit I need, but I did miss my usual barista-made morning brew.
Accessibility: There are two wheelchair accessible king rooms with well-designed bathrooms for guests and their carers.
Environmental awareness strategies: Effort has been made to address the environmental wastage that frequently occurs in hotels. Rooms have recycling as well as rubbish bins. The bathrooms have large dispensers filled with Leif toiletries. They use Australian Botanicals; lemon myrtle, sandalwood, eucalyptus, blue cypress, lemon and tea tree are infused in various combinations which smell heavenly. The air conditioner is designed to turn off automatically when guests open a door to the outside. The gardens are watered using tank water.
Anytime Fitness is a short walk away. It's $15 for casual guests.
Personal trainer (Maeva) can be booked on request at the hotel. ($75 per hour on Balmoral Beach). Book at reception.
Woke Yoga is close - 4 minutes walk.
Cots and high chairs and baby baths are available.
Advice for other travellers:
If you prefer the heritage rooms, as opposed to the more modern rooms in the newer part of the building, make sure you request them.
How to get there:
Cab, uber, train then bus
How to book: online
Price: (per night or packages): as low as $139 and as high as $315. Check the website for current rates and availability.