The Sydney must-stay for every art lover

hilton hotel sydney

In today’s competitive market, hotels need to offer an experience that is not only comfortable but also memorable and unique, whether that’s an outstanding location, incredible food or hosting a special experience for guests within its walls.

Successful hotels need to go above and beyond to appeal to today’s discerning travellers. One way hotels are standing out is by placing paintings, sculptures and other artwork for visitors to enjoy during their stay.

Art is immersive and impressive and displaying art allows guests to take a moment out of their often busy schedules to connect with their surroundings.

One hotel that is offering guests a chance to enjoy museum-quality art during their stay is the Hilton Sydney.

Many of the walls are decorated with works by contemporary artists and guests can learn all about each carefully selected or commissioned piece and its creator by navigating the self-guided art tour developed by renowned arts and design writer, Leta Keens.

The tour features close to 20 artworks from awarded Australian and international artists, many of which were commissioned by the hotel itself over its 50-year history.

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The piece that will most certainly catch your eye as soon as you walk into the lobby is the 16.5-metre-high metal sculpture, Vine. Artist Bronwyn Oliver was commissioned to create the piece in 2005, and it’s taken pride of place since then. The bottom starts tightly coiled and the piece slowly unravels as it spirals up towards the ceiling. It’s mightily impressive whether you’re looking up from the lobby or down from one of the higher floors.

“It’s a magnificent work,” said Ms Keens, who interviewed many of the artists. “It took the artist and a team of welders about nine months to make. She said at the time that she wanted it to echo the path guests might take as they wander through the lobby.

“One of Australia’s best-loved and most respected artists, she mainly worked in metal, and her sculptures are in many public and private collections.”

All of the pieces are impressive in their own right, but being able to read about the way they were created and the meaning behind them brings an extra element to the experience. Knowing the story really allows you to engage with the artwork and the space as a whole.

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My favourite piece is Broken Bird situated on level four. Broken Bird is a piece in painted steel that was made in 2014. The stark contrast between the gorgeous turquoise colour and the black wall it sits in front of makes a real impression.

The piece was created by Janos Korban and Stefanie Flaubert who have been working with metal since the 1990s. “For years, we have been wrestling metal, trying to get to the essence of it,” they say. “In finished works, this reveals itself as a sense of contained energy and movement. The aim is to keep the energy flowing between work and viewer, to draw them into the complexity of the piece.”

Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie Restaurant and Wine Bar

Of course, beautiful artwork is always appreciated, but viewing it while indulging in culinary delights makes it extra special. During your stay book in for a meal or two at Luke Mangan’s glass brasserie Restaurant and Wine Bar. Ask for a table ‘on the glass’ so you can look out at the beautiful Queen Victoria Building while you enjoy your dinner. The pan-roasted scallops from Western Australia and the Wagyu Sirloin from Rangers Valley were exceptional.

The next morning you can enjoy a superb spread at the breakfast buffet served under the spectacular Inside the Glass by artist Judith White.

“I called it Inside the Glass because it seemed to be a space between the Australian land and the water and it was caught behind glass as well as being in the restaurant,” Ms White said.

“But because it’s a restaurant and a place where people come to eat and drink, I also had the idea it was inside a glass of something such as Scotch with ice and water and bubbles and an orange swizzle stick. Some people look at it and say they can see the Australian ocean tides and coastline, and I’m happy about that too. You can’t tell people what to see in a picture.”

Marble Bar

Hilton Sydney’s historic, highly decorative Marble Bar, designed in the 1890s and reassembled in its current location by the hotel in 1973 when the original building was demolished, also displays a rich series of artworks around its walls.

The idea of an underground bar might seem intimidating, but the gorgeous architectural details really make up for anything that’s lost by the lack of natural light.

You’re forced to stop and take it all in as soon as you walk in the door. Your eyes will likely be drawn straight to one of the 14 curvaceous life-sized nudes that adorn its walls, which were painted in the 1880s by celebrated artist Julian Ashton. Enjoy a cocktail while taking in the breathtaking marble and mahogany interior. 

Read: This is what hotel rooms could look like in the future

“One of the Marble Bar’s most special features is the collection of commissioned artworks by Julian Ashton, an influential English-born artist, who migrated to Australia in 1878 and set up an art school in Sydney in 1890,” Ms Keens said. “It still exists in The Rocks today; the artist’s great-grandson Paul Delprat is principal.

“Many well-known Australian artists studied at Julian Ashton Art School, including William Dobell, John Olsen, Thea Proctor and Brett Whiteley.”

So, with a comfortable bed, delicious food and museum-quality artwork, what more can you ask for to make your Sydney stay special?

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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