Value in simple comfort

Heritage...the Woolbrokers has an impressive facade.
Heritage...the Woolbrokers has an impressive facade.
Heritage...the Woolbrokers has an impressive facade.

Heritage...the Woolbrokers has an impressive facade.

History abounds in this Victorian-era hotel with high ceilings and lots of charm, writes Bruce Elder.

Built in 1886, Woolbrokers is a historic hotel, built to meet the needs of Pyrmont's once-thriving maritime waterfront where well-to-do wool industry employees, buyers and brokers gathered to discuss the market. Originally known as the Woolbrokers Arms, and now a great-value stay on the CBD-fringe, the hotel has high ceilings and a large, elegant, Victorian-era dining room.

In our en suite double, modernity manifests itself by way of excellent hot showers and a very comfortable bed.

On the "old-fashioned" side, the hotel has no lifts. Fortunately there are just two floors, with 30 rooms running off each landing in a myriad corridors and alcoves.

Our room is ascetic; the furniture comprising two single beds pushed together into a king configuration; a metal hanging frame with three coat hangers; a huge, old chipped unit of dark timber with a green marble top that houses an equally ancient television; bar fridge stocked with two glasses and four sachets of milk; a hot water jug, sachets of instant coffee and tea bags; a bedside table with a single lamp; a chair, wall mirrors; and two etchings on a wall portraying early Sydney.

There's also a small heater and fan in the corner but they cannot be used as power points are either behind the timber unit (which would need an Olympic team of weightlifters to move) or the bed. The only accessible power point is in the bathroom.

Ah, the bathroom. Someone decided that a once-communal toilet and shower could become Room 14's en suite. There's soap, but no other body-cleansing accoutrements available, however, the bathroom still has a black and white plastic strip on the door announcing "Shower & Toilet" and, amusingly, on the back of the door, another plastic strip requesting that guests "Please turn off the lights".

And then we ate A continental breakfast in the hotel's dining room costs a modest $7.50 but the surrounding area is awash with cafes. We head to nearby Pyrmont Street where (in the passage between the Harris Street car park and the monorail station) Tekakaza charges $6.30 for coffee, croissant and jam. For evening meals, Darling Harbour, Chinatown and King Street Wharf restaurants are all within an easy walking distance.

The deal maker The Woolbrokers Hotel has price and location. We have a large, old-fashioned, comfortable room for $99 a night. Combine it with the excellent parking deal at the Harris Street Secure Park in the Goldsbrough Mort building opposite ($12 for 24 hours, courtesy of a voucher from the hotel) and the Sydney parking-fee savings alone are considerable.

Stepping out We buy a Sydney Monorail ticket one day for a quick trip into the city; walk to King Street Wharf and catch a ferry to Parramatta another day. We visit the Maritime and Powerhouse museums and walk the length of Harris Street, stopping to buy delicacies at the Simon Johnson - Purveyor of Quality Foods outlet (181 Harris Street) before taking in the views across Johnstons Bay and Darling Harbour from Giba and Pirrama parks.


Woolbrokers Hotel

Address 22 Allen Street, Pyrmont.

The verdict A comfortable budget hotel five minutes' walk from Darling Harbour and 10 minutes from the city centre.

Price From $69 for a standard single room to $254 for a large family room. We paid $99 for an en suite double. This rate rises to $130 in peak times.

Bookings Phone 9552 4773; see

Getting there The hotel is one block from Darling Harbour and one block off Harris Street, Pyrmont.

Perfect for Accessing city attractions.

Wheelchair access No.

While you're there Explore Darling Harbour, walk to the city centre and enjoy the shopping.

This story Value in simple comfort first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.