In case you missed it: last year, Surry Hills introduced a rule stating that in order to live there, you had to have a dog. And okay, that’s a blatant lie, but if you’ve ever walked through the Sydney suburb on a weekend, you’d likely think that was the case.
So, it makes sense then that Surry Hills is now home to a number of pet-friendly hotels, with the newest being 202 Elizabeth, owned by Australian entrepreneur Diana Ren who also owns The Porter House in the CBD.
Located at, you guessed it, 202 Elizabeth Street, a five-minute stroll from Central Station, Chinatown and Hyde Park, this hotel finally opened in February of this year after construction on it was delayed during COVID.
The hotel was built from scratch, with its street-level lobby concrete and the rest of build using cross-laminated timber, which has a light footprint and is, therefore, more sustainable. Because the hotel wasn’t allowed to close the footpath out front, let alone the road, at any point during its construction, the build was made in Melbourne before it was shipped down to Sydney and put together from the inside out.
When I found myself looking after my friend’s (fortunately, potty-trained) puppy Denzel over the Easter long weekend, I asked if I could check it out. My friend Jess, puppy Denzel and I checked into a room with a big balcony on a windy Easter Sunday.
Conveniently, the room had a dog bed, a double bowl for food and water and a squeaky toy that Denzel loved. Usually, dogs are also treated to a special treat when they arrive, but Easter Sunday meant all the shops were closed and so the manager couldn’t find one for Denzel. You can also buy dog food from the hotel if you didn’t happen to bring some.
Our room was like the rest of the hotel, brimming with different materials — marble in some areas, tile in others, interspersed with wood and wallpaper from Kingdom Home Design. Like other parts of the hotel, too, it featured art from artists including Johnny Payne Ngale, Ash Leslie and Lean Timms. Furnishings are by Sarah Ellison, Rachel Donath and McMullin & co.
While ours didn’t, some rooms even have real plants in them, a rarity in my experience. All rooms, though, have chambray slippers you can take home and two floral print kimono robes by Piyama that were so soft-feeling and chic that I’m thinking about buying one. Also great were the room’s double-glazed balcony doors. We couldn’t hear a peep from any other dogs in the building (though I don’t think there were any) or noise from the street.
The hotel has five different room types, and 38 rooms total spread across four levels. While 24 are entry-level, some with bathtubs if you request them, there are also some rooms with small balconies, others with bigger balconies and one suite with no balcony but a huge bathtub instead.
The lack of balcony in the suite shouldn’t be too noticeable — the hotel has a courtyard next to its lobby, as well as a rooftop with around 20 seats on its sixth floor, overlooking Sydney Tower and Central Station’s Clock Tower. The sun sets behind Central Station year-round, which makes for a stunning setting. When the hotel eventually gets its liquor license, it plans to hold social hours for guests in either of these spaces.
In the morning, Jess and I dragged the doona from our bed to the rooftop and curled up with it on a lounger as we fought off the chill and listened to the clinking of trains arriving at Central. We also sipped coffees that we’d made from the pouches provided free in the minibar. We’d polished off a bag of Shapes, three small energy bars and two sodas, also included in the minibar, the day before.
A big fan of sparkling water, I also appreciated the free tap of chilled fizzy water, along with still water, in the lobby. Later this year, the hotel plans to open a wine-tasting area in the venue next door, with wines by Handpicked Wines, who have a cellar door in Chippendale. They’ll also have a fully stocked bar in the lobby.
While the hotel also doesn’t have its continental breakfast set up yet, when it does, it’ll be included in the room rate and will feature local food and produce, including sourdough crumpets. You’ll be able to dine in the lobby, courtyard, rooftop or room. Jess and I got a taste of it with a breakfast delivered to our room, which we ate on the balcony as we fended off Denzel.
While it was definitely quiet at the hotel during the stay, I imagine even with all 38 rooms booked, it’d still have that intimate feel. The hotel felt more like an apartment building than a per-night stay and, even though we’d stayed just one night, I felt I’d gotten a good feel of the neighbourhood.
We’d dined at Ace Hotel, had coffee at Paramount Coffee Project and I’d paced up and down the hotel’s back streets, waiting for Denzel to pee. Plus, we’d spent a couple hours on the rooftop, soaking it all in from above. I’d recommend — whether you’ve abided by Surry Hills’ dog rule or not.