The Fullerton Hotel Sydney review: History, tradition, and excellent service set a new standard at a former General Post Office
It really doesn't get better than Sydney's No. 1 Martin Place. I'm standing along the pavement, gazing up at the storied building that once was the iconic General Post Office (GPO), set against a striking azure sky. The GPO is the grand dame of the street, amidst the more modern offices and banks that surround it in the city's bustling CBD. Richly steeped in history and tradition, its tales are told in its intricate stonework and carvings that have stood the test of time.
Today, the GPO houses a new name in The Fullerton Hotel Sydney. Opened mid-October, it marks the first international expansion of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, bringing Down Under the same standard set by The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore. A familiar name amongst Singaporeans, the hotel clings to its love for heritage buildings, a penchant for intuitive service, and a fresh standard for luxury. The first thing they did was to have a team of more than 30 stonemasons spend a total of 38,000 hours to clean up the façade of the historical GPO.
The lobby hums with the quiet bustle of businessmen chatting, people checking in, couples indulging in high tea, and hotel staff tending to their tasks. Natural light streams in from the glass panels, and bathes the space in a beautiful glow, no matter the time of day. The mix of the original GPO sandstone walls and updated interiors casts a certain uniqueness over the hotel. This is, without a doubt, one of the most majestic buildings in Sydney.
The Fullerton Hotel Sydney's unparalleled service goes hand in hand with that opulence. The Fullerton has the best service I've experienced in this country, and a brilliant attention to detail that is befitting of its name. The concierge team is seriously efficient, the wait staff at The Place and The Bar are incredible, and the housekeeping squad will go above and beyond. Look out for Alain at The Place, who made us feel right at home and showed us that no request is too small or undeserving. The hotel's fleet of perceptive staff are constantly on the pulse, and there's no chance to feel disappointment here. Case in point: I needed to heat up some food for my toddler, and they sent a microwave up within minutes. Yes, an entire microwave, which looked almost hilarious against the elegant furniture in the room.
While the hotel's 416 rooms have yet to undergo a major revamp since it was previously owned by the Westin, it's the little touches that are reminiscent of our Fullerton hotels back home. Each room is furnished with Harman Kardon bluetooth speakers, Nespresso machines, TWG teas, and an extensive pillow menu for even the most sensitive sleeper. The bathroom is generously sized and comes with both a tub and a rainshower, and is kitted out with Atkinsons amenities in the standard rooms, and exclusive Balmain ones in the club rooms and suites. Need a snack to accompany your Netflix session? Order a customised Fullerton burger from the in-room dining menu, which allows you to pick and choose your favourite condiments.
If you're the kind of traveller that craves a taste of home after a few days in a foreign country, you'll find some of the most delectable Singaporean food at The Fullerton Hotel Sydney. The Place serves up both Southeast Asian and Australian fare, and I was keen to taste what Singaporean dishes in Sydney might taste like. From sweet sticks of satay, to a tender wagyu beef rendang and the juiciest kong bak bao, the flavours are moreish and spot on. It takes a talent like Chef Gerrit Schellenberg, alongside a team of chefs from the Fullerton Hotel Singapore who flew to Sydney to impart their skills, to create dishes which marry Singaporean flavours with Australian produce — and one up those on our sun-drunk island. You'd be mad not to try the laksa, infused with succulent Yamba prawns, scallops, quail eggs, and beancurd in a delightfully creamy coconut curry. The banana fritters topped with ice cream, are also not to be missed.
Pop down to The Bar for The Fullerton Hotel Sydney's afternoon high tea and I dare you to proclaim it's not the best in town. Singapore takes pride in our legion of high tea sets, so it comes as no surprise that the one in our international outpost isn't just as indulgent. Choose from an afternoon tea set that comes with either coffee or tea, a Singapore or Sydney Sling cocktail, or a flute of Ruinart. I'd go the latter, but they're all spectacular. Each platter comes with a selection of savoury and sweet treats, including duck rillettes in a sesame bun, smoked salmon mille-feuille with caviar, and chocolate mouelleux. The warm, freshly-baked scones — heaped with jam and clotted cream — are not for sharing, while the pandan lamingtons are exceptional.
You'll also have to join in on Fullerton Experiences, a bespoke programme featuring complimentary heritage tours and events. My guide, Margaret, was in equal parts knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and opened my eyes to things I would otherwise have dismissed in the GPO. From the controversial Pitt Street carvings, to the famed bells that still chime every 15 minutes today, it'll bring new perspective to your stay at The Fullerton Hotel Sydney.
Here's to a brand-new start for No. 1 Martin Place, and one that promises to be the best one yet. A matter of metres from the GPO is a shiny Burberry flagship store, and a stone's throw away stands Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., and the throng of people down Pitt Street Mall. Regiment, a hole-in-the-wall situated right across the road, makes mean coffees and downright delicious sandwiches. There's nowhere else in Sydney that encompasses everything for a comfortable vacation than right here.
For more information, visit The Fullerton Hotel Sydney.