RE­VIEWS

The Ul­timo, Syd­ney, NSW Nour, Syd­ney, NSW Tribe, Perth,WA Tav­erna, Kingscliff, NSW

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

THEY HAD ME AT ‘world’s first as­trol­ogy ho­tel’. On first glance, ad­mit­tedly, the Ul­timo Ho­tel’s strapline does read a lit­tle like a gim­mick. But as some­one with a ca­sual in­ter­est in the zo­diac, my cu­rios­ity was piqued all the same. The con­cept has been de­vel­oped with Damian Rocks, of as­trol­ogy and well­ness com­pany Stars Like You, and its ex­e­cu­tion plays off the bou­tique ho­tel’s ur­ban lo­ca­tion in Syd­ney’s Chi­na­town district (close to Cen­tral Sta­tion, Dar­ling Har­bour and the CBD). I opted for the ‘Star Chart’ pack­age, and pro­vided de­tails of my time and place of birth when book­ing. It re­sults in a Sagittarius-geared city guide to ‘Gas­trol­ogy’ (where to eat and drink) and ‘Ex­plorol­ogy’ (things to see and do) in Syd­ney, and a copy of my as­tro­log­i­cal birth chart, pre­pared by Rocks, wait­ing for me on ar­rival. For those who book the ‘Off the Chart’ pack­age, it acts as a pre­cur­sor to a per­son­alised con­sul­ta­tion. The as­trol­ogy el­e­ment is also dis­creetly worked into the de­sign and feel of the ho­tel. The Ul­timo, opened in Fe­bru­ary 2017 and part of the bou­tique ho­tel group 8Ho­tels, is based in a her­itage-listed build­ing and its re­cent ren­o­va­tions both mod­ernised the build­ing and re­vealed more of its ware­house char­ac­ter. It is this – rather than any new age aes­thetic – that shines through across the public ar­eas and the 95 rooms. At re­cep­tion, graphic il­lus­tra­tions de­pict­ing the 12 sun signs hang be­hind the desk; but oth­er­wise the space feels slick and con­tem­po­rary, with cool tones and cool mu­sic. I had won­dered what sort of peo­ple might be drawn to stay at an as­trol­ogy ho­tel, but un­sat­is­fy­ingly there is no one here to pi­geon­hole. In­stead, guests are a mix of tourists and busi­ness­peo­ple, plus my own per­sonal scep­tic – I’d brought along my Capricorn boyfriend for bal­ance. The room feels fresh and mod­ern – dec­o­rated in shades of grey and white, with shots of colour via il­lus­tra­tions by Jodi Clark and a geo­met­ric lamp­shade to match the spiky style of the as­trol­ogy art­work. The ex­posed brick, slightly slant­ing wall and un­even floor charm­ingly be­lie the build­ing’s in­dus­trial past. The king-size bed is com­fort­able, the bath­room neat and func­tional, and the large bal­cony that over­looks the hub­bub of the city is a bonus: soak­ing up some evening sun while pe­rus­ing my chart is a plea­sure. There is a flat screen TV and free wi-fi, but for a four-star ho­tel, the fa­cil­i­ties are oth­er­wise fairly min­i­mal: no iron, for in­stance, which could be an is­sue for those stay­ing in the city on busi­ness. The ex­tra de­tails how­ever – like per­son­alised ‘Do not dis­turb’ signs and daily horoscopes with your news­pa­per – are fun touches. When it’s time to ven­ture out in the evening, we heed the ad­vice of my Sagittarius city guide and head to an art gallery. In the morn­ing we pick up a takeaway cof­fee from the lobby’s barista sta­tion; and check out the 12 blends of ‘Astrolo-tea’ also on of­fer. Ul­ti­mately the two of us – be­liever and scep­tic – have en­joyed our stay; The Ul­timo strikes a good bal­ance. It’s an ideal ur­ban ho­tel to use as a launch pad for the city, with a whole ex­tra di­men­sion to en­gage in should the mood take you.

CLOCK­WISE FROM FAR LEFT: Ex­posed brick gives away The Ul­timo’s her­itage; You’ll find the ho­tel in the Chi­na­town district; The slick , airy lobby; Zo­diac-in­spired de­tails are a fun touch.

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