YHA Sydney The Rocks Renovation: The best view in Sydney just got better

YHA Sydney The Rocks Renovation: The best view in Sydney just got better

It’s a million-dollar rendition, but with a budget of just $68.35.

And in a city like Sydney where bargains are scarce, this feels like one of the best you didn’t know was on offer.

I’m sitting on my hotel terrace having a drink, staring at the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge in front of me, knowing my room didn’t even cost me a sixth of the price of the cheapest in the hotel next door.

That’s because I’m at YHA Sydney Harbor in The Rocks, which has undergone a dramatic renovation to take it a world away from the youth hostels of, well, my childhood, and into a smart, functional, modern place to stay for all age groups.

Here, depending on the dates, a shared room for four women (or four men) with two bunk beds, en-suite bathroom and table and chairs costs only $68.35 per person per night, a double room with private bathroom and TV costs $ 256 and a new king opera harbor view ensuite with smart TV is $311.25.

All guests then of course have access to that wonderful roof terrace with panoramic harbor views, to sit and reflect or drink or eat a home cooked meal in the huge communal kitchens below, which are carried upstairs from the cafe – which currently being expanded – brought in from the pub next door or supplied from one of the restaurants nearby. There are also plans for a bar there.

This isn’t the first time I’ve stayed in a YHA, but it’s the first in a long time. Back in the day, and ever since the youth hostel movement started in Germany in 1909, they used to be stark, austere places you’d only choose if there was no alternative, or if you were a dedicated no-nonsense hiker with Amish leanings.

You would be allowed in after 4pm, with lights off usually at 9:30pm, and should leave by 10am the next morning. In between, all guests were assigned chores, from making beds and cleaning the communal kitchen to chopping wood for a fire.

How things have changed! Now the global nonprofit is transforming itself into a provider of much more modern accommodation, still offering reasonably priced sleeping quarters, but also inviting spaces to eat, work and play.

At my YHA at The Rocks, for example, built above The Big Dig Archeology Education Center with a view of the grounds through the hostel walkways, there are plenty of communal tables and chairs to sit and work on a computer, a TV room , games room, free wifi, air conditioning, laundry and BBQ.

As for many other hospitality businesses, COVID proved devastating, but as YHA CEO Paul McGrath said, “We felt we shouldn’t waste a crisis. From overseas.”

Now 32 percent of rooms in Australia’s 40 YHAs have private facilities, and many offer food and wine, with a bar opening at the Sydney Central YHA on Haymarket and others launching at Melbourne’s Flinders Street YHA and Brisbane’s Upper Roma Street hostel.

The country’s new flagship YHA, under construction in the Atlassian building in Sydney’s Central, will feature both a bar and brewery, a 24-hour restaurant and a climbing wall.

In the meantime, the YHA Sydney Harbor feels very much like a well-kept secret, especially since it’s next door to the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, which shares much the same views.

And when you consider that one of the country’s most expensive hotels, the Park Hyatt Sydney, with its rumored $21,000 Sydney Suite, is also eyeing the same view – albeit much more closely – who’s to say there aren’t bargains? to find more in Sydney?

The writer stayed as a guest of YHA.

See also: The seven things you may have forgotten about hostels

See also: Is Australia still a dream destination for backpackers?

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