Sydney Sampler Week 5: George Street Review

Byron Matthews 24 July 2017

Sydney Sampler

George Street in Sydney's CBD: so close and yet so far (from where I want to live).

George Street in Sydney was a last-minute entry in this experiment. It was never a place I had considered living but I thought I might be surprised. I thought that the convenience and the reduction in transport costs might make this a hit. To a certain extent, it was.

Firstly, getting around: let’s face it, you are already “there” if you’re living on George Street. Train stations, ferry terminals, shopping, food, night-life… everything is right there. But therein lies the problem. One night I didn’t want to eat at the hotel so I had to venture out. It was about 8.30pm and I found myself getting ready as if I was going “out out” just to run out and get take-away. In Double Bay, Manly and even Woolloomooloo, I felt okay running out in really casual around-the-house clothes, but on George Street I didn’t.

Its funny: everything is so close but you have to prepare more so it’s not as convenient as I thought it would be. I mean, can you imagine walking past colleagues in loose-fitting jeans and a tee with whatever shoes were easiest to slip on at the door and they pass you in a suit? It would be weird.

George Street also had that feeling that you were always “on”. Always at work, always in traffic, always dressed up, always busy, always surrounded by concrete. So the mind never really fully relaxes. That might change a little if you were looking out over the harbour but that would mean you were in a high-rise and I never really liked the idea of high-rise living.

As for dining, obviously it was fantastic to be that close to so many different options. I had dinner at Mr Wong and in the Establishment Hotel itself. Sadly, none of these were on Clipp but I did see that Fratelli Fresh, Cruise Bar, Bavarian Bier Café and many others have up to 40% off. Mr Wong is always great and fresh but it’s getting so popular that you have to book. The food at the Establishment Hotel was great and you can have a main at the bar if you are after something very casual. Remember to check out The Morrison for $1 oysters on Wednesday night.

What’s the Establishment Hotel like to stay in? It was very exciting. You almost get knocked out by the strong scent of eucalyptus oil when you walk through the very hidden entry just down from Mr Wong. You do feel that this hotel is unique and when you stay in a boutique hotel that’s exactly the way you want to feel. The room was open plan and had a huge bathroom. I really like how they use technology not just for tech’s sake but to make life easier. Apple TVs that allow you to watch Netflix are easy to use and hidden away. The rooms were also very quiet which must be hard to achieve considering the hotel sits over a huge nightclub. You can walk straight through to the Establishment Bar via dark doors at the back which is very cool indeed.

Establishment Bar is always fun, where serious suits and pretty party people mingle with friendly bartenders. Salsa Night is on Tuesdays and is a must-do in Sydney if you have never been.

So, the big question is would I live on George Street? No, I wouldn’t. It’s just too much. You can’t switch off and you can’t relax, especially if you work right in the city like I do. The convenience is there but as I mentioned, you can’t just walk out onto the street in daggy clothes to grab a quick takeaway or a beer. Parking is a nightmare unless you have a car space included in your rent. Yes, there are amazing cheap eats and things are open 24/7 but what you gain here is not worth losing the advantages of living in Woolloomooloo, Double Bay, Watsons Bay or Manly. I enjoy being close to the water, nature and away from noise and traffic and George Street just doesn’t allow you to do that.

Each week Byron Matthews will review a different Sydney suburb he's always wanted to live in. Read his other reviews here.

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