Russell Hotel, Sydney

Jul 26th, 2006, 08:50 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
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Russell Hotel, Sydney

I posted this last night, under "Hotels Needed in Cairns, Sydney & Adelaide," after seeing debdeq's message saying that the Russell was noisy, not clean, and generally disappointing. I thought I might be more likely to get a response if I re-posted with the specific subject.

I'm interested in hearing whether others have had bad experiences at the Russell. We're booked to stay there in late September, but I'm now wondering whether I should change to somewhere else. We'd like a good location, but don't want a noisy one.
judilie is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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The Russell is a boutique hotel which is in the most perfect spot in Sydney. It does not have gyms, swimming pools and all the extras that chain hotels have but it is still one of the best places I have stayed at anywhere.
It can be noisy if you are facing Circular Quay but you can make sure that you are not.
As for being noisy, not clean and disappointing, all I can say is that some people could well not like the Waldorf but then The Russell does not have a price tag to match the Waldorf in any case and for my money it is the nicest hotel around - just email them and ask for a non noisy room as that is your preferred criteria.
lizF is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 06:36 PM
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The Russell is not like a Mercure or a Marriott or a Hyatt, and the people who are disppointed with it are generally the type of people who like these establishments, with their snappy room service, express check-outs, pools and spas, and uniformed lackeys waiting to do your every bidding (for a tip, of course). The Russell is more than 150 years old, and it's only two or three storeys tall (so no elevator); the walls are solid sandstone, so there's no need for air-conditioning; and if you ask to change your travellers' cheques they will probably suggest that you walk across the street to the bureau-de-change and save yourself some money. I have never before heard it described as unclean, but I recall once an irate poster who was affronted when she couldn't find the elevator described the Australian-heritage colour scheme as "dingy".

As a Sydneysider, I never have occasion to stay in any of the hotels in my home town; however, I can tell you now that if I had the choice of a free night in any hotel in Sydney, I would choose the Russell. It is the best-located hotel in the city, and one of the quaintest. Step outside the door and you are right at the ferry wharves, looking towards the Opera House (ten minutes' walk away, about the same distance as the entrance to the Brisge walk) and at the gateway to the Rocks, which is the most interesting part of Sydney. All the chains who moved in with their high-rise buildings when they heard the Olympics were coming to town had to scrabble for the few remaining pieces of real estate, and, frankly, some of these are not too hot; the Russell, however, was open for business back in the days before Australia even had the name "Australia", and, of course, it had its choice of just aboutt any location in the city.... and it chose the best.

Noisy? I guess, as Liz says, it can be if you get a room facing the railway overpass for Circular Quay Station, which is quite close by. The Four Seasons is even closer, but I guess you can't hear the noise from the rooms there because you are all glassed in with air-conditioning instead of open windows. Compared to places like this, the Russell could, I suppose, be considered "roughing it".... but this is a REAL Sydney hotel, and it's half the price of the Four Seasons, and, whatever you end up thinking about it, I can guarantee that you'll never feel like you're still in your home town, which I confess is a thing that always disappoints me about the Ibises and the Novotels, etc.... where's that touch of uniqueness?

I stand with Liz. The Russell is great.
Before you dismiss it, at least check its website and judge for yourself.
Alan is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 07:26 PM
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Hi Judilie,

I didn't see Debdeq's original post but I've done a site inspection on the Russell; and while both LizF and Alan have valid points, I must comment that I wouldn't put anyone but my budget clients there.

It may just be a difference between sensibilities; Alan's completely right in saying that it's an Aussie experience, but that may not be everyone's cup of tea. And it DOES have a great location.

For my own personal travel, and believe me, I've stayed in some real dumps as well as 5 star resorts, the main issue for me is the noise. I'm a very light sleeper and the fact that the floor boards creak (to be expected of an older establishment) and some of the rooms face the street (think of the pubs letting out, people woo-hooing and traffic noise); and the fact that not every room are "ensuite" which means toddling down the hall in the middle of the night to visit the toilet/bathroom (so, if this is a concern, make sure you specify an "ensuite" room and one at the back) it doesn't make it to the top of my list of recommendations.

Alan also mentioned the lack of A/C and I have to say that when I did my site inspection it was a very warm day and I would have been happy to have A/C in those upper rooms! (and it masks the noise as well). So, admittedly, I'm a fan of A/C! If that's not an important factor to you, then maybe it's the right hotel for you.

If this raises any "red flags" for you, then you might want to consider, for example, the Holiday Inn/Rocks. Another great location, not a Four Seasons or prices to boot, but a step up from the Russell.

Hope this is helpful!


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wlzmatilida is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 10:18 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. We will be in Sydney the end of September. Is it likely to be warm enough then that lack of AC would be an issue?
judilie is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 12:29 AM
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You should not be needing A/C in September as that is still Spring ( early).
I don't agree with Wlzmatilda's comments that only budget clients should go there. I would prefer any day to be at the Russell in preference to ANY of the chain hotels in the district. At least the Russel has some ambience to it and as we have said before it sure is a lot cheaper.
Perhaps this is the difference between Australians and Americans because I would rather be in a hotel with the flavour of the country that I am in than any chain hotel regardless of what "extras" it provides i.e. gym, pool etc etc. I have had several friends from the UK and the USA ( the latter is used to living in the same Condo high rise as Elton John and Janette Jackson so could hardly be called "budget" ) who loved the Russell. Perhaps my friends and I are "budget" travellers and we just don't realize it.
lizF is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 02:01 AM
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The Russell, circa 1880's, is a heritage listed historic building, therefore no fixed air conditioning. As Alan says, thick sandstone walls, however when I was last there a couple of years ago the very pleasant owner/manager was experimenting with portable air-conditioning units. Not that I thought it was necessary, even then in late Sydney summer, a far cry from cool September. No elevators either, the building is only 3 storeys (ground floor plus two on top) high.

Over the years have spoken to many US guests, not necessarily budget travellers, who have nothing but praise for the Russell, its location, its ambience, its very Australianess appeals to those with a vestige of interest in history of the Rocks. So am really surprised to see the negative comments. Have also stayed in Four Seasons, when it was The Regent, give me the Russell anyday.
pat_woolford is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 03:55 AM
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As Alan says, you don't often stay in a hotel in the city in which you live. So I've never stayed there - but the location is to die for - and with respect, it's not that cheap. So if Melodie calls it "budget" I'd be interested to hear what her non-budget clients pay for a room.

We are all different - I prefer ambience and location, and dislike spending more than I really must for somewhere to sleep. You may prefer the reassurance that comes with a brand name - Four Seasons, etc.

But if noise and creaky floorboards are a concern for you, then maybe you could look at a place friends of mine stayed at that is also in the "budget" range.

They are very picky but not mega spenders. And they were here over New Year. Many mid range options were full so they went for what was then called the Harbour Rocks Hotel. It has since been taken over by Sebel. I thought it was lovely as it has a small deck where you can sit for a beer, and is only one block back from the waterfront. They enjoyed their stay but did comment that the room, and the ensuite, were very small. It is also in a converted building - which may explain why.

fuzzylogic is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 06:59 AM
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Hi Fuzzy,

Well, my clients stay at various hotels with various rates, but, for example, I have clients staying at the Old Holiday Inn on George Street Sept. 14-17 for $165.46 USD.

And that's funny that you mention the Harbour Rocks, because I stayed there on my first trip to Australia! For the most part, on my own personal travel, I preferin a place that offers a bit of history /charm, or something unique.

Which is why I picked the Harbour Rocks. But I found out (the hard way) that you don't want the back rooms when the recycling bin truck comes around to the pub on the corner of the opposite street! (the name escapes me now...but it's a pretty lively spot!

Thanks for the tip, I actually hadn't heard that the Sebel group took it over. I will make a point to add it to my list of hotels to site inspect when I'm there in September!


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