Review: Citigate Central Hotel – Thomas St – Sydney

100_4259For our two day hiatus to Sydney to attend the Leather Bags and Accessories trade fair we stayed at the Citigate Central Hotel near Darling Harbour.

We had stayed here once before when it was known as the Carlton Crest but that was quite a few years ago. We booked the hotel online and it cost $199AUD per night including breakfast.

The hotel is situated in Thomas St in Sydney which runs parallel to George St. We like staying in hotels around this area because of the close proximity to Darling Harbour but also because in Thomas St parking is readily available. The street itself is a dead end so you don’t have the hassle of trying to navigate traffic in order to park. You can also stop the car in that street and not have the problem of cars beeping you to get out of the way.

When we drove into Thomas St we noticed the parking complex had a sign saying it was full. And as we weren’t too sure where the hotel was we thought we would make some enquiries before turning around and looking for another parking complex. Paula got out and went in to ask the parking attendant where the hotel was. Just as well as the parking attendant indicated that the hotel was right next door and is in fact attached to the parking complex. She told us to drive in and she would ensure that we had a space to park in.

We parked on the second level and made our way with bags to take the lift to the ground floor. When we arrived on the ground floor there were signs leading the way to the lobby.

Parking costs $23 per day – you get this reduced rate if you are a guest of the hotel. You simply need to provide your parking ticket to reception when you check out and they validate it in order for you to get the guest rate.

100_4275The reception area looked as if it had just been upgraded and was very welcoming. Check in was very efficient and friendly, in fact it was so quick that we actually commented on how fast it was. It would have to be the quickest check in we have ever experienced. It probably took less than a minute!

Our room is on the 11th floor – # 1115, and it was easy to find on leaving the lift, we have been in hotels where we have gotten lost because of the poor signage. But there were no problems here.

When we opened the door we were quite impressed with the room. It is rated as a four star and we would have to agree with that rating.

The room isn’t huge but it is reasonably spacious, especially for a hotel room in Sydney. For two people there is plenty of room even with the two beds.

Our double room has two queen size beds which are very comfortable and each has a padded mattress pad and clean white soft sheets. The pillows are soft but not overly so and are very comfortable. Actually there is an assortment and one of them is quite firm for people who prefer a more solid pillow. There are also extra pillows in the closet. There is also a decorative bolster pillow which we use for resting the laptops on when we are in bed. The comforters on the beds are warm but lightweight and we actually found them a little too warm.

100_4267As for lighting this would have to be one of the best lit rooms we’ve been in. There are a number of lamps and what we really like is the extra little reading lamp over each bed which is bright enough to read but not bright enough to annoy the person in the next bed.

The air conditioner is pretty standard with digital button controls. We found it to be relatively quiet.

And speaking of quiet, the outside traffic noise level was almost non-existent. We heard doors opening and closing from the hallway but it was the standard noise level that you get in most hotels. Overall we found it to be very quiet.

The TV is a Phillips flat screen and has an excellent picture. The channels include the regular Australian free to air channels as well as three Fox Sport channels, Tourist TV, a Chinese language channel, three radio channels, Sky News, Discovery, V2, 111Hits and Nickelodeon.

The room has a mini bar. Some of the prices include – Crown Lager $7.50, Juices $4.00, Coca Cola $3.50 and water $4.00. These are all in Australian dollars of course.

There is also coffee and tea with a water jug and two cups, saucers and spoons. Only black tea is provided, we have found lately that more and more hotels are providing a variety of teas including green, earl grey and darjeeling, however in this instance we have just the one type of tea.

The room has one desk with chair which has the broadband internet cable. This is where you are able to do most of your computer work. The internet access is quite expensive at 55c a minute with a maximum of $29 per day. This is the most expensive we have ever seen for internet access at a hotel and we were loath to pay it but since the internet is our business we had to bite the bullet. In future, we won’t stay at this hotel for that reason. Sounds petty I know, but we rely on the internet and we can find a similar hotel in the same area with a more reasonable internet rate.

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There is also a small table and chair in the corner of the room as well as another desk area with office chair as part of the entertainment unit. In other words, there are plenty of places to sit and work.

The bedside cupboard between the beds is smaller than usual and with the phone and the clock radio sitting on it there is not much room left for other items.

The safe is in the closet and has a digital password lock. It isn’t large enough for a laptop but fits cameras, passports and those smaller items that you don’t want to carry around when sightseeing.

The closet has a separate luggage rack as well as an iron and ironing board and plenty of hanging space. The front of the closet has sliding mirror doors. Next to the closet is a large fitted luggage rack.

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The bathroom has a toilet, sink with bench space and a bathtub with shower. The bathroom is not very large but even so it is not too cramped.

There is also a hair dryer and outlets for shavers with both 110v and 240v outlets.

The toiletries smell good with shampoo, conditioner and soaps. The bathtub has a fitted clothesline if you need to launder your clothes.

I did love how quickly the bathtub filled with water. It took less than 2 minutes. It actually took longer to empty.

The bathroom was clean however we do feel that an upgrade is due, the tiles are looking a bit jaded.

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Our booking included breakfast which we will discuss after experiencing it, however they do also have an in room breakfast menu. This is served from 6am to 10am and includes an American Breakfast for $24.50, Continental Breakfast for $18.50 and A La Carte Items ranging in price from $4 to $18.50.

The hotel has room service that extends from 11am to 11pm and a late night menu which runs from 11pm.

We decided to order room service and we both ordered the Steak meal which was $24.50 and included a char grilled Scotch fillet with roast chat potatoes, steamed seasonal vegetables (carrots and beans) and mushroom sauce. The steak was cooked to perfection and was simply delicious along with the vegetables and mushroom sauce.

For dessert we tried the Chocolate Steamed Pudding ($13.00) and Homemade Apple Strudel ($13.00). Both were enjoyable although the chocoate pudding was voted the best of the two for texture and taste. Both desserts were enjoyed even though we were extremely full from the main meal.

We also received a complimentary white wine (for Paula) and orange juice (for me) as an apology for the meal being late. This gesture was appreciated althouth we thought the service was quite quick compared to most hotels room service deliveries we have experienced in the past. It probably took about 30 minutes for our meal to arrive.

The hotel is in a great spot within walking distance to Darling Harbour, Paddys Markets, the Japanese Gardens, Chinatown and the Monorail. If you wanted to get to Sydney Harbour you could walk it but it is a bit of a hike. You would be better off taking the train which is what we will be doing.

The Next Day

We arrived at breakfast at around 10am and there was only one other person in the dining room.

The ambience is very pleasant with subdued lighting and tasteful wall decorations. Everything was clean and tidy.

The choices for the hot food were scrambled eggs, poached eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans.

There were three types of cereal, fruit such as rockmelon, honeydew melon, peaches, pears, delicious stewed plums, and two types of yogurt.

100_4278Then there were the breads with a choice of wholemeal, white and grain. In all our travels this has to be the best hotel toaster we have encountered. My toast was cooked in no time at all and it was done to perfection. I can’t recall how many times I have spent waiting for so long only to end up with warm bread. So this was a pleasant experience. Paula had declined having toast for the reasons mentioned. It is often just not worth the hassle. She settled for a custard danish instead to finish her meal.

Pineapple, apple and orange juice were available along with tea and coffee.

We enjoyed our breakfast experience for the food choices and presentation, everything was well cooked, the dining room surroundings are pleasant and the staff unobtrusive as they clear and reset the tables and refill the food holders.

Our biggest problem today was getting our room serviced. After breakfast we left to catch the train at Central Station to go to Circular Quay. When we returned at 3pm our room still hadn’t been serviced, so we went to Paddy’s Market for a look around the factory outlets hoping the room would be serviced in the meantime. In the end I had to approach the housekeeping staff to ask them to make up the room. So this was a bit of a let down. It was at about 4.15pm that we finally were able to get back into our room.

Later in the evening we went to the Field House Restaurant which is located on the ground floor of the hotel.

We both ordered the house special of a Stockman Steak with chips and rocket salad. Both scotch fillet steaks were cooked to perfection, the chips were tasty, however the salad could have done with some salad dressing. But on the whole we were delighted with the meal.

Overall we would have to recommend this hotel as a great place to stay in Sydney and apart from the overpriced internet access, we liked almost everything else about the experience.

We felt comfortable during our stay, it is in a great position and the rates were fairly reasonable for a four star hotel.

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