Ovolo Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia
Offering luxury to the modern, tech-savvy traveller, Ovolo Woolloomooloo in Sydney is everything you need to brighten up your journey – colourful, playful, stylish and indulgent…
Located in the heart of Sydney, on the historic 100-year-old Finger Wharf, the longest timber-piled wharf in the world, Ovolo Woolloomooloo has opened in the former Blue Hotel Sydney. After an extensive renovation and rebranding, the new boutique hotel opened in 2015 offering a fresh-faced alternative for the young luxury traveller.
Combining history, modernism, luxury and fun, leading international design practice HASSELL worked out the design for the hotel, breathing new life into the century-old wharf. Housed in a heritage-listed former warehouse, the hotel features an exterior dominated by rows of teal-painted French windows, gable roofs and a gridded structure. While the iconic look of the original building has been kept intact, the Ovolo has infused the building with its own unique and welcoming brand and playful design elements.
As you rock up, you are met with the signature Ovolo neon-styled sign flashing ‘Woolloomooloo’, and decorated with silver eggs. Upon ascending the stairs, the full splendour of the warehouse-style interiors is immediately apparent. Above the reception desk, a gigantic designer clock hangs, which not only tells the time in an interesting way, but also functions almost as an art installation. Made up of 36 smaller clock faces, the 86kg installation tells the time while simultaneously forming a beautiful pattern – you really have to see it to capture its true sprit.
The reception is encased in a semi-open greenhouse-styled structure. Custom-made potted trees stylishly light up the area using LED lights incorporated into the leaves, as if inhabited by hundreds of fireflies, creating a romantic and atmospheric effect, especially at night.
The bedrooms are based around the centre courtyard, and accessed through the five different floors via open walkways. The courtyard reveals the vast industrial ceiling and beamed skylight that allows lots of natural daylight to come in. Standing on the top-floor walkways provides spectacular views of the courtyard with its warehouse interiors and heritage features that are so seamlessly integrated by bright lights and colourful design elements.
The courtyard area behind the reception has been broken into smaller zones, with the help from low partition walls and shelves, forming two larger pavilions in the centre. Hosting a bar, pool table, breakfast and lounge area, the Lo Lounge is a way more intimate and welcoming environment. There’s plenty of space for relaxation in the more secluded areas, whereas the large, open spaces encourage socialising and are perfect for groups.
The interior design is playful with lots of interesting details – small, quirky artefacts are eclectically mixed with larger items, art canvases and sculptures. Everything from books to butterflies in bell jars are combined with neon signs spelling out cringe (but funny) puns, cockatoo sculptures and colourful paintings of skulls and flowers.
Dedicated to investing in talent, Ocolo has partnered with the government initiative ‘Artbank’ (an Austrlian first) to display a unique collection of Australian artwork throughout the property. The hotel is also committed to promoting international art while working to support local emerging artists.
Renowned US chef, restaurateur and global pioneer of plant-based cuisine, Matthew Kenney, has also recently launched his first Australian food concept, Alibi, at Ovolo Woolloomooloo. Woolloomooloo wharf is already an established vibrant dining hub and Alibi, which takes over most of the ground floor of the hotel with a combination of lounge and bar seating, is an exciting addition to the area as the first plant-based offering on the waterfront. Alibi will be a casual lounge-style restaurant and bar offering a plant-based dining menu with a focus on innovative, seasonal dishes. The venue will also be a destination for stellar drinks featuring a comprehensive cocktail programme and Australian-focused wine list that mixes smaller producers with the classics.
The look of the guestrooms is distinctly modern and led by technology – as you enter your room, the sound of Ovolo’s own Spotify list (Radio Ovolo) welcomes you and sets the tone for a vibrant atmosphere, immediately matched by colourful and funky design. Amazon’s Alexa is ready for your instructions, a tablet is there for you to control every feature, a free mini-bar is at your disposal and a luxurious yoga mat is there if you’re in need of a good stretch – what more can you ask for?
All uniquely designed, the hotel offers a range of different room types that all feature locally commissioned artwork. Custom-made headboards (comprised of four different styles – portraits of fish, ladies at the races, hunting scenes and swinging ladies) for the beds decorate the sleeping areas.
Worth mentioning is the incredible split-level Cityvoo loft rooms that boast two skylights, with furniture in bright colours and stylish art of the walls. There’s an amazing view of the harbour, the Sydney skyline and the botanical gardens, a super comfortable bed and a luxurious bathroom with a huge walk-in shower.
With a pool, gym and spa open 24 hours, the hotel ensures that their amenities are always available to be enjoyed. These include a luxurious poolroom with an outdoor area, which provides a tropical atmosphere with canopy beds, and an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.
The Ovolo brand was founded by Girish Jhunjhnuwala in 2002 and has since grown into one of Hong Kong’s largest independent hospitality firms. Ovolo is a family owned and privately operated business with a charitable core and the hotel is now part of Small Luxury Hotels of The World. The idea of inserting a modern trailblazing hotel within a historic wharf building is genius, as the old-meets-new narrative is relatable, stylish and appealing.