A vacant building in Sydney’s central business district is rare indeed, let alone a space with heritage features and large enough to house 172 rooms and suites. But that’s exactly what the Primus Hotel had to play with, the new property occupying a prime piece of real estate that was once home to the Metropolitan Water Sewage and Drainage Board. Abandoned for a number of years, the handsome 1939 edifice—the last major government building to be completed before the outbreak of World War II —held a number of surprises for developers, not the least being eight burgundy scagliola pillars hidden from public sight since 1965 when a mezzanine floor was built over the lobby, blocking their full eight-meter height. Now a major focus in the hotel’s entrance, the pillars are crowned by a ceiling of glass, reflecting light off the gloss of marble floors below. While there’s no denying the appeal of Art Deco flourishes, ex-Rockpool chef Ryan Hong’s stellar restaurant, or bathroom amenities courtesy of Sydney’s own Appelles Apothecary, the hotel’s highlight is arguably its rooftop. Once used as a rifle range, the vantage now houses a guests-only pool and bar, offering a bird’s-eye perspective of Australia’s largest city. (61-2/8027-8000; primushotelsydney.com; doubles from US$212).
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