Smack bang in the heart of the city opposite the equally ornate Sydney Town Hall, the opulent Queen Victoria Building manages to be both a shopper's dream and a surprising sanctuary from the pulsating CBD it forms an integral part of.
The general rule at the five-storey QVB seems to be that the higher you go, the more expensive the stores. And the lower the noise level – which could be due to the fact that only a fortunate few can afford to set foot up there…
But, because the place does get quieter as you ascend, sitting in the Vienna Coffee House or one of the other peaceful cafs on the QVB's upper floors and drinking in a view of the city along with your latte can be a great antidote for rat-race fatigue.
The top floor has an almost spiritual feel (all hail the god of shopping?), with its dazzling stained glass dome giving the impression of a glorious, soaring cathedral.
Up here you'll find art galleries, upmarket toy shops and a nightclub-style loo with automatic doors and one of those disconcerting, virtually flat handbasins that threaten to overflow the second you turn the tap on.
The QVB has grand archways, brightly coloured feature walls, wonderful old lifts reminiscent of the 60s TV series 'Get Smart', and a varied retail mix – most stores stock clothes, with brand names ranging from General Pants to Versace, and there's also a chockie shop, hairdresser, chemist and lots more places to spend your money.
Cafes abound on every level and the lower ground floor has quite a stylish food hall, with a Laksa House, German bakery, sushi outlet and loads of other eateries to choose from.
If you can't find what you're looking for here, the QVB flows directly into Westfield and The Galleries Victoria – as well as Town Hall Station if you need to do something practical like catch a train.
The outdoor section of the Jet Bar / Caffe at the QVB's Town Hall end is a great place to people-watch - noise and smog notwithstanding!