Subject: Sydney Hotel
Hi Candice You asked about the Observtory Hotel. We've stayed there once and were quite impressed (in fact we're planning another weekend there before Christmas). We only paid $295 (AUD) which was a bargain (booked through Currently they have rooms for $295-$395 (AUD) (but depending when in January you will be visiting the rates could change - days around New Year are always expensive). The rack rate I think is about $670 (AUD).

The hotel is quite luxurious which you'd expect given that it is a member of the Orient Express Group. The guest rooms are very comfortable. The foyer/public rooms are beautifully furnished. Staff are friendly and helpful. The only downside is that the views are very ordinary and it is not nearly as convenient as the Shangri-La, Regent, Park Hyatt, Intercontinental etc.

You also asked about restaurants. Have you been to Aria (1 Macquarie Street - just across from the Opera House)? I haven't been there but my daughter and her husband have and they said the food was wonderful. It is quite expensive but apparently is very in at the moment.

Finally, a bit of trivia. The locals in South Australia have renamed Kangaroo Island Wallaby Island for the next couple of months in honour of the Australian Rugby Team (The Wallabies) and the Rugby World Cup which is on here next month.

Regards Josie Figtree, Australia (about 80kms south of Sydney)