You could be forgiven for dismissing Hotel Sweeney's and taking your business elsewhere – it does look awfully unimpressive at first glance. The ground floor public bar seems only to attract boozy tradesmen and surly-looking old folk. It's officially called a sports bar. It's about as glamorous as the dog races on a rainy winter's night. But Hotel Sweeney's has an ace up its sleeve.
Situated on the corner of Clarence and Druitt streets, across the road from Town Hall, Hotel Sweeney's is an old-fashioned boozer indistinguishable from many of its competitors. The whole operation spans four levels: the downstairs sports bar, the second floor Thai bistro and the third floor, which is home to the toilets, a pool table and not much else. But it's the fourth floor that makes a trip to Hotel Sweeney's worthwhile.
Set against the backdrop of the city's skyscrapers, Hotel Sweeney's rooftop bar is a ripper. It's not big by any stretch of the imagination – there are a handful of tables and chairs, a couple of umbrellas and a tiny bar servicing the brave who manage to troop all the way to the top. Its small size means it fills up quickly, but don't let that put you off. There are splendid views over the city and down towards Darling Harbour. Add in the cool breezes and you've got one hell of a pleasant drinking spot.
Despite its tiny size the rooftop has a well-stocked bar. Eight beers are tapped, including standards such as New, VB, Carlton Draught, Heineken and Coopers, as well a house brew. Cider – only by the bottle – also seems to be popular on the roof, as does white wine, bubbly and everything else summery. The drinks are refreshingly cheap, although they don't rival the staggeringly low prices of Hotel Sweeney's sister venue, Bar Century.
Hotel Sweeney's other main claim to fame is its Thai bistro. And it does do a good trade with hungry office workers and out-of-towners. Alongside laksas and stir-fries, the kitchen offers traditional pub staples such as burgers and fish and chips. The food is priced fairly, especially for the city, but you'll do better elsewhere.
Best just to grab a cool drink, sit out in the open air and thank your lucky stars you made it. Especially now that Sydney's summer is turning sweaty. Whether it's for a weekend afternoon session or for a quiet night under the watchful gaze of the city's skyscrapers, the rooftop at Hotel Sweeney's is a great choice for those looking for a chilled drinking spot in the city.