Sydney eats and sights and stay at Old Clare Hotel

Lovely stay at chic Old Clare Hotel, Sydney's must eats and must sees plus Madonna

In my second half of my week in Sydney, my landscape changed from surfers paradise – Bondi Beach to Chippendale, where I stayed with Y, and buddies WT and CG in newly opened industrial chic Old Clare Hotel opened by our own Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng.

Close to Chinatown and a 10 minutes car ride to the CBD area, and home to local universities like University of Technology and University of Sydney, my friends told me Chippendale used to be rather gritty. However, over the last few years, this area has been getting a new lease of life and becoming rather gentrified with art galleries, design studios, chic restaurants & cafes sprinkling up amidst new buildings like Foster + Partners designed luxury residential building – One Central Park and newly opened mall Central Park Mall. As part of the redevelopment in this area, Spice Alley, an outdoor Singaporean street food market in Kensington Street just next to Old Clare Hotel is also home to a few good Asian hawker fare, reminiscent of good old Penang hawkers, and sits alongside other cafes in the preserved old terrace houses.

First views of Chippendale neighbourhood, and Kensington Street. 

Very much integral to the whole redevelopment in Chippendale area is definitely the Old Clare Hotel, made up of 2 old iconic historic buildings – the Carlton and United Breweries former administration building and a old pub – Old Clare. The 2 brick like buildings are a juxtaposition of old and new, with airy glass panels integrating the 2. The boutique hotel has retained some of that old charm from the days of the pub and brewery such as the old brick walls, concrete finishes, and injected its own modern design touches with some semi industrial elements noticeable in the choice of lighting and signages throughout the building. Old Clare Hotel also houses their 3 restaurants – Kensington Street Social, Automata and Silvereye. Unlike some small boutique hotels that have really pathetic common facilities, Old Clare is equipped with their own rooftop pool and a 24 hour gym with just the necessary Technogym equipment for a good workout.

Lobby area for check in.

Trying to take a ride out on the bicycle – fail!

We stayed at the Clare Room, on the 1st floor, a large 44 sq m room, which was large and airy with high ceilings, white and grey walls, and warm wood flooring. We were upgraded to this room at an attractive rate (thanks to the owner) thankfully as Connell room might have been a little tight for a bear and 2 humans. Since I am not quite the exhibitionist, we had to draw the curtains when we were in the room since our room was at road level. Other than that, it was a really comfortable stay for that last 2 nights in Sydney. I loved especially their Random & Crap bag, hung coolly on our wardrobe for us to purchase if we wished to and WT snapped the last one in the hotel! The best part of the room had to be the bed, which in my opinion gave me one of the best sleep in my life out of so many hotels I have been to. I wonder what’s the secret to that comfy mattress hmmm?

THE OLD CLARE HOTEL 1 Kensington St, Chippendale, NSW, 2008, Tel:+61 2 8277 8277

Enjoying the pool on the sky roof terrace. 

From the best sleep in Old Clare Hotel, I gotta share with you where were the best eats I had this trip.

Ester 46/52 Meagher St, Chippendale NSW 2008, Australia, Tel: +61 2 8068 8279. Reservations a must!

For its amazing pavlova and creative small plates that don’t try too hard, that make you wanna come back for more. The Pyengana cheddar pie made with Tasmanian cheese is a must have alongside the chicken with garlic bread sauce. Just a 10 mins walk from Old Clare Hotel. This was my most favourite restaurant in my trip!

Pyengana cheddar pie Bone Marrow/ chilli sambal/ toast Chicken/ garlic bread sauce Burnt pavlova with elderflower

Bennelong Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Tel: +61 2 9240 8000. Reservations a must.

By acclaimed Australian chef – Peter Gilmore, this fine dining restaurant’s location is a plus point. The food here is good but safe I feel, but still worth a trek here especially if it’s your first time to Sydney to enjoy the architecture of the Sydney Opera house and the harbour view and they did the most amazing version of the good ol’ Aussie dessert – lamington.

Cherry lamington at Bennelong and the night view of Sydney Opera House. 

Automata 5 Kensington St, Chippendale, Tel: +61 2 8277 8555. Reservations a must.

My favourite of the 3 restaurants in Old Clare Hotel, butter never tasted this good till I had it here. I love my butter and at Automata, they have taken butter to a whole new level, freshly churned with chicken jus served with a warm wholemeal roll.. it’s just WOW! And I like that we could enjoy a 5 course degustation lunch at $88 in under 2 hours just before catching our flight back to Singapore. From the fermented plums and onion, a refreshing starter in the menu to the roasted lettuce with duck hearts, I like where this restaurant is going.

Most amazing churn butter made with chicken jus Lunch tasting menu $88 Wagyu beef with enoki, brown rice miso, umeboshi & sesame leaf Fermented plums & onions Hapuka fish, with persimmon and dried shiso oil Roasted lettuce, duck hearts, red cabbage Smoked beef rib cap, eggplant, mushrooms, brown butter & tamari Yoghurt, pomelo, finger lime, rosemary meringue Clean modern interiors with open kitchen

Chiswick 65 Ocean Street, Woollahra NSW 2025, Tel: +61 2 8388 8688

Come here just because it’s got that great Sydney vibe, you feel like a local dining here in this beautiful airy house with large spacious grounds nestled in the residential neighbourhood of Woollahra – the brainchild of Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan. The food is typical modern Australian fare, accessible cuisine, with much of the vegetables and herbs coming from their own garden at the back. And, don’t forget to order one of their gin & tonics, they have a good selection of gins from local Archie Rose to Spain’s Gin Mare.

From my favourite food to the Sydney sights not to be missed. Sydney is famous for its beaches like Bondi Beach to other famous wharfs and bays, not forgetting the always breathtaking Sydney Opera House. Even though I have been to Sydney a few times, I never tire of seeing this beautiful iconic building, and we found a new nice spot to admire it thanks to CG who used to live here. Instead of crowding with the tourists right in front of the opera house, Blue’s Point Reserve in McMahons Point, gives you an uncluttered view of the entire Sydney skyline and beyond including the famous harbour bridge and Opera House. I hear this is also the best spot to enjoy the New Year’s Eve fireworks too!

With Y at Blue’s Point Reserve Mcmahons Point

If you have time, it’s quite nice and chillax to take a drive down to Watsons Bay (45 mins by car from the city), Australia’s oldest fishing village, and is home to some famous seafood restaurants such as Doyle’s where we went for my fish and chips fix. It’s nice to walk by the wharf and chase after the seagulls or take a leap in the air like I did!


Jumping in the air at Watson’s Bay (pic courtesy of WT)

Sydney couldn’t have been complete without seeing Madonna in her last leg of her Rebel Heart Tour 2016 in Sydney, where she was also going to be recording this leg of her concert for the Rebel Heart concert DVD. I have seen Madonna in London, New York, Singapore and must say this was one of her best after New York’s MDNA Tour. She gave it her 200% and more, and truly this made my visit to Sydney all the more special!

I leave you with Madonna singing one of her most iconic songs – Like a Virgin on my last night in Sydney.

See @loveyloi #loveyinsydney for more of what I got up to this trip!

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