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Best Hotels for Vivid Sydney Winter Festival

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If we were living in pre-Covid times the Vivid Sydney festival would be over by now.

The winter festival that brought Sydney people out onto the streets in our (really, not all that) cold winters and attracted visitors from around the world used to run from late May into June. But after being cancelled last year, this year’s Vivid Sydney was going to be back at a slightly later date in August. Though that plan has just changed again.

With the latest Covid outbreak in Sydney causing lockdowns to be extended, the new dates for Vivid Sydney 2021 are from the 17th of September to the 9th of October. I’ll admit I was getting worried that it might be cancelled again so I’m relieved to hear it’s just being postponed.

These shifting festival sands once again highlight the fact that it’s a great idea to make sure your accommodation is 100% refundable just in case there are any unexpected border closures or lockdowns.

Read: Weekend getaways Sydney locals love

If you’re counting down the days for the first time there’s a Vivid countdown clock to help you do just that. Well, two of them actually – one in the First Fleet Park in the Rocks and another on the Wulugul Walk in Barangaroo. And you can also see it ticking closer to Turn On the Lights time on the Vivid Sydney website.

There’s a wide range of great hotels, B&Bs and more to choose from around the city for all sorts of budgets, including some great apartments to rent with Sydney harbour views. And you can of course stay further afield and hop on public transport to come into Circular Quay.

But if you want to really treat yourself and stay somewhere you can see the pretty lights from your window and step out your front door and find yourself in the middle of the festival buzz, here are five top picks…

The Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney

Get the right room at Sydney’s Four Seasons and you can watch the lights change on the Opera House sails from your bubble bath. This hotel offers some stunning views, with a number of suites and rooms having both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge outside their windows.

Situated on George Street, just across the road from Circular Quay, you don’t have to waste any energy getting to Vivid from the Four Seasons. You’re already there.

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Four Seasons Full Harbour View Junior Suite, picture courtesy Four Seasons Hotel

Park Hyatt, Sydney

Directly across the water from Sydney Opera House, the Park Hyatt is a prime location any time of year, and that incredible view is all the more beautiful during Vivid.

Get a room with a view and you’ll not only be able to see the lights, but also enjoy some people watching as the Vivid crowds make their way from the Opera House around Circular Quay and under the Harbour Bridge. Consider yourself in the thick of it.

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Park Hyatt Sydney Opera Room, picture courtesy Park Hyatt

Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour

On the other side of the water in the middle of the action you have the Pullman Quay Grand.

Just a couple of minute’s walk from the Opera House, the Harbour View Suites not only have views of the Harbour Bridge but also of some of my favourite light projections on the MCA across the other side of Circular Quay.

Even if you’re not staying for the night, the hotel’s Hyde Hacienda Sydney has sweeping views of the harbour and a vintage Miami 1950s vibe going on with rum inspired cocktails. So if the crowds on the street get too much, you know where to find a good watering hole.

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The Shangri La Hotel, Sydney

Situated in Cumberland Street in The Rocks, Sydney’s Shangri La hotel is about five minute’s walk from Circular Quay, and has killer panoramic views of both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

If you miss out on one of those premier rooms and can’t see the iconic buildings around the harbour, you can always pop up to the Blu Bar and look down at the Opera House over a cocktail, or have dinner with a view in the hotel’s award winning restaurant, Altitude.

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 Pier One Sydney Harbour

To help spread the crowds out, Vivid Festival organisers have cleverly decided that the Harbour Bridge lights will only be seen on the west side of the bridge, which encourages people to walk around more than they otherwise might.

This just happens to be the same side of the bridge that Pier One Sydney Harbour can be found, and if you manage to get one of the right rooms you couldn’t ask for a better view of the bridge from your balcony, your bed, or your bath.

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Pier One Sydney Harbour balcony image Jarrad Seng Sydney New Year's eve

There you have it. The dream list of places to stay during Vivid. Now get out there and enjoy that incredible festival!

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will get a little something to help pay those blogging bills. You can find out how and why I use travel affiliate programs here.

For the full program of Vivid events visit the Vivid Festival website.

If you’re looking for something special to do during Vivid, check out this Night Light Painting tour where the AAA photo below came from. A very fun one to do.

Looking for more fun Sydney ideas? Check out my list of 20 great tours and things to do in Sydney for every budget. 

You may also want to check out some of the best hotels for New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney.

The Vivid Cruise passing the Sydney Opera House, image Destination NSW

Leave a Comment

  1. I can’t wait for Vivid! I’ve got a new camera and can’t wait to try it out.

  2. I’ve been to Sydney a few times in June (but sadly not going to be there this upcoming one) and didn’t know about the Vivid Festival. Crazy. Love the colors and the lights. I always stay near Circular Quay too when I’m there, love the location but I tend to find myself at the Marriott due to points.

    • What a shame you’ve missed Vivid in the past… you definitely need to fix that one as soon as you can! Such a great festival (and the Marriott isn’t a bad spot either!)

  3. I have been to four seasons and trust me it is the best in the category. The food, the ambiance, the view of opera house, the rooms everything about four seasosn is amazing. Howwver, my next in lsit for the festival is hayatt. So, if any one have had a cnace to spend time in Hayatt. Please share your experince, so I can make a right decision. good share though.

  4. I would definitely recommend the Shangri La if you have a room with a view. If you can’t get a room with a view, have dinner in the restaurant, it’s beautiful and the view over The Rocks and the harbour is stunning.

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