Italian classical and Australian heritage blend together at Sydney’s newest hotel, Hotel Morris, set to open June 14. Housed in a completely transformed Italian renaissance-style building on Pitt Street, the structure is a rare example of Inter-War Palazzo style by architect Virgil Dante Cizzio.
It was the tallest hotel in Sydney for 34 years when it opened in 1929. Now, it holds 82 rooms, including six suites and a bar, and is the first Accor’s Handwritten Collection in Sydney. The rooms feature golden mustard tones, Calacatta and blue Roma marble and brass detailing. Jarrah wood accents add warmth.
“We are a heritage-listed hotel and are reopening under the same name as when the hotel first opened back in 1929,” says Atsuko Asano, General Manager at Hotel Morris. “Strong Italian influence is reflected in the design of the bar and hotel and ties in with the Italian architect who designed the building back in the 1920s.”
Among the décor, Asano points out the custom wallpaper used in the corridors as a highlight. It was inspired by classic art — sculpture, painting and drawing — of the Italian Renaissance masters. In the hotel’s bar, Bar Morris, a layered approach was used to the floor finishes, a detail borrowed from Italian Palazzos.
“The bar’s overall palette is mood and rich, which leans into a classical Italian aesthetic,” she says. “The gestures [from the hand sculptures that dot the property] not only emulate the importance of gesture in the Italian vernacular but are also posed in a way that harkens back to classical marble sculptures.”
Bar Morris is Art Deco-inspired and seats 40. Its day-to-night menu focuses on simple, seasonal produce with Italian influences by Head Chef Rosy Scatigna, a young culinary star on the rise. She was born in Southern Italy and studied at the famous Alma International School of Cuisine before working at several Michelin-star restaurants in the UK and Italy.
“Rosy’s menu is based on traditional with a twist,” says Asano. “Complement this with a wine from our extensive collection of Italian and local drops and natural wines.”
The cocktail menu incorporates Australian ingredients from local producers, as well as Italian. Highlights include Ocean’s Depth Martini with house-spiced brine and Negroni Speziato with Chinese five-spice-infused gin with a touch of Amaro.
Asano says her favourite part of the hotel, though, is the side stairs from the ground level to level two. There, walls are painted in deep burgundy, and ceiling curves form an arch on the ground floor. “An etching with lights illuminating from the edges completes the look of mystery and intrigue,” she says.
As for what she wants guests to walk away from a stay feeling? “The same feeling you get when you’ve just been to a friend’s home for a nice and relaxing night.”