Sydney's top 10 hotel bars

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Melbourne may be known for its rooftop and laneway bars, but when it comes to hotel bars Sydney has the standouts. From popular stalwarts to hip new arrivals, we’ve rounded up 10 city hotels that offer travellers more than just a place to sleep.

Gilt Lounge, QT, 49 Market Street, Sydney

Interior of Gilt Lounge Roll back the red curtains at Gilt Lounge. Image courtesy of QT Sydney

Overlooking in-house restaurant Gowings Bar & Grill, Gilt is the kind of bar you’d expect to find in Sydney’s sexiest design hotel. Barrel-aged cocktails are the thing at this boudoir-esque bolthole, though it also proffers an extravagant list of freshly-mixed tipples – Killer White Lady, anyone? – and a good selection of bubbly. The downstairs bar connected to the Grill uses the same cocktail list.

Eau de Vie, The Kirketon, 229 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst

Interior, Eau de Vie hotel bar Book a spot and settle in at Eau de Vie. Image courtesy of Eau de Vie

Hidden out the back of an inner-east boutique hotel, Eau de Vie’s trifecta of smashing cocktails, speakeasy vibe and cool crowd continues to assure its reputation as Sydney’s hippest bar. Served by award-winning bartenders, the drinks here range from the simple (3 Ravens pale ale) to exotic (a ‘noble experiment’ cocktail made with liquid nitrogen).

Marble Bar, Hilton Sydney, 488 George Street, Sydney

Interior Marble Bar Victorian-era watering-hole, the iconic Marble Bar. Image courtesy of Hilton Hotels & Resorts

Spilling out on to a fourth floor terrace overlooking Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building, sophisticated Zeta was the bar that made Sydney hotel bars cool. But down on level B1, Marble Bar has the edge. Originally constructed in a nearby hotel in 1893, the opulent bar was dismantled and rebuilt – Corinthian column by marble slab – in the Hilton in the ’70s. Today it’s a popular live music venue.

Blu Bar on 36, Shangri-La Hotel

View of Sydney Harbour from Blu Bar That Sydney moment: cocktails with a view at Blu Bar. Image courtesy of Shangri-La Group

Commanding a bird’s eye view of the Harbour Bridge, Blu Bar on 36 is the best bar in town to gawp at Sydney in its twinkling, after-dark glory. Order a ‘harbour serenade’, snag a comfy seat next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, and drink in the view along with your cocktail. Tip: wear something nice.

Hemmesphere, Establishment Hotel, 252 George Street, Sydney

Interior of Hemmesphere bar Boasting an outdoor terrace, central Sydney's popular Hemmesphere. Image by Merivale

For delectable drinks served by beautiful people in luxe, Ottoman Empire–inspired surrounds, Hemmesphere is just the ticket. You’re spoiled for drinking options in the Establishment complex, with three additional bars (Establishment, Tank Stream Bar and Palmer & Co) along with a handful of restaurants.

The Australian Hotel, 100 Cumberland Street, The Rocks

Exterior shot of The Australian Hotel A classic hotel at the Rocks, the Australian Hotel. Image courtesy of The Australian Hotel

One of Sydney’s oldest pubs, no one could argue that The Australian Hotel lacks character. Drop in for a cold beer and a crocodile pizza, and a good ol’ AC/DC sing-a-long. Seemingly unchanged since Federation, the basic but homely hotel rooms upstairs feel like a living museum.

Drift, Ravesi’s, 118 Campbell Parade, Bondi

Interior Drift by at Ravesi's Bondi beach views are a major drawcard at Drift. Image courtesy of Ravesi's

Boasting a pub, bar and restaurant, it’s easy to forget that Ravesi’s also has 12 boutique hotel rooms. Sharing the same floor as Ravesi’s respected Mod Oz restaurant, Drift is a chic alternative to the more laidback watering hole downstairs – no flip-flops up here. Make your way out to the balcony to enjoy the sea views on a summer evening.

Grain, Four Seasons, 199 George Street, Sydney

Interior of Grain bar The name is in the pannelling at Grain. Image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Combining elegant cocktails and modern Australian cuisine at surprisingly reasonable prices for an upmarket hotel bar, Grain feels like the kind of place where you can loosen your tie a little. The wood and earthy tones add warmth, and if you’re a fan of hip Japanese craft brews you’ll be happy to know they serve Hitachino.

WaterBar, BLUE Sydney Hotel, Level 2, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo

Interior of Water Bar Exposed timber beams lend character at WaterBar. Image courtesy of Taj Hotel

The epitome of harbourside luxury, WaterBar is perfectly located for a pre-dinner tipple before moving on to one of the top restaurants that share its prime real estate on the Woolloomooloo finger wharf. Sadly, WaterBar lacks actual water views, but the glitzy decor – complete with Swarovski crystal curtains – cool tunes, and fruity concoctions make up for it.

The Bar, Park Hyatt, 7 Hickson Rd, The Rocks

Interior The Bar at Park Hyatt Mood lighting and stylish decor at The Bar. Image courtesy of Park Hyatt

Situated in Sydney’s reportedly most-expensive hotel, The Bar  is a suitably refined boozer. While a roaring fire and hunting trophies wouldn’t go astray here, The Bar’s sophisticated, contemporary decor (think: marble tables, chocolate tones) creates a comfortable setting to indulge in an exquisitely poured drink or two. Swing by to sample some of the world’s best vintages – and we’re not just talking about the wine.

Sarah Reid is a Destination Editor for Lonely Planet covering Southeast Asia - and occasionally her home country Australia.