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The hottest places to visit in Sydney in 2015

This article originally appeared on www.hotelclub.com/blog. which is now part of hotels.com

Been to Sydney a few times and looking for a new experience on your next trip? We spoke to 10 of Sydney’s best up and coming bloggers to get the low down on the hottest places to be and be seen in Sydney this year. Discover the latest Sydney hotels, restaurants, bars, and things to do in Australia’s most popular tourist destination through the eyes of the locals.

Here we highlight our top 10 hottest locations to explore taken from the full interviews with our local experts below:

1. Hottest Sydney Restaurant –  The Butler, Potts Point

2. Hottest Sydney Small Bar – The Swinging Cat, Sydney CBD

3. Hottest Sydney Hotel – The Langham Sydney

4. Hottest Place to be Seen in SydneyThe Gantry

5. Hottest  ShoppingKiribilli Markets

6. Hottest Sydney Locals SecretPana Chocolate

7. Hottest Wholefoods CafeBread and Circus

8. Hottest Sydney EventVivid Sydney

9. Hottest Sydney Suburb to Explore – Alexandria

10. Hottest Sydney Experience – Seaplane ride over Sydney Harbour to Cottage Point Inn

Now it’s time to check out Sydney’s hottest up and coming bloggers for the full details on their picks for this years most exciting new experiences.

SydneyChic DebCarrSydney Chic

Follow Deb on Twitter @DebCarrNetwork

Deb Carr is the Editor and Publisher of Sydney Lifestyle Blog, Sydney Chic , a Social Media Marketer and teaches Blogging and Social Media at Sydney Community College.

1. Whats the most exciting upcoming event for visitors in Sydney and why?  

Without a doubt VIVID is the next big event for Sydney. Vivid lights up Sydney with the most spectacular displays of lighting on buildings as well as sculptures, music and much more. Vivid Sydney is on from May 22 to June 8.

2. Whats the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

I’m pretty addicted to Kazbah in Potts Point. This exotic and mysterious restaurant offers an amazing selection of Middle Eastern, Turkish, Persian, Mediterranean & Moroccan traditional dishes. As well they have an awesome bakery with fabulous pastries and savoury dishes and you can’t go past the Moroccan Mint Tea. Attached is Kazbah’s Mafi Mitlo – cuisine that evolves around street food found in Arabian and Mediterranean countries. It’s worth a visit just to see the decor! 

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney and why?

The Hughenden is a boutique hotel in Queen Street, Woollahra it’s certainly not ‘new’ it’s heritage listed however it’s had a big makeover and a visit to the hotel is like stepping back in time with all the modern day comforts. This boutique hotel is close to fabulous shopping in Paddington and Woollahra and not far from Bondi Junction. 

 4. What is the hottest spot for boutique shopping in Sydney?

You can’t visit Sydney and not stroll up Oxford Street, Paddington for boutique shopping and I’d have to add Double Bay as well.

5. What is the best new wine bar in Sydney?

Parsons in Potts Point has a great ambience and good range of very good cocktails and range of tapas. In Kellett Street, Potts Point there is something quite magical about this venue. 

 6. What’s your pick for the most exciting things to do / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

I’m still thinking about the time late last year when I went out to iFly Downunder in Penrith where I got to experience flying in a wind tunnel; that was totally out of my comfort zone.  Another adventure I recently had was when I took part in my very own ‘horror movie’ at Escapism at Strike Bowling down in King Street Wharf, most sensible people do this game in a group, those of us with less sense to it on our own. 

7. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

I’m a big fan of Zigis Wine Art Cheese Bar in Chippendale and he also runs a cooking school, a great Teppanyaki restaurant is Kujin in Elizabeth Bay  and I’m a big fan of the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park for hotel accommodation. Finally,  Dumplings and Beer in Potts Point is a quaint little dumpling restaurant.

Annabel - Londoner In SydneyLondoner in Sydney

Follow Annabel on Twitter @LondonInSydney

After finding love with an Australian in India, Annabel Symonds soon after moved to Sydney just over 3 years ago and decided to start a blog to help other expats who were moving to or already living in Sydney. Her blog offers advice on visa applications, tips on where to live and how to find work to how to keep up with the latest trends in shopping on a budget and general life as an expat living in Sydney. 

1. Whats the hottest place to be or be seen in Sydney at the moment and why?  

Make sure you head to The Ivy, a huge entertainment complex located right in the heart of the city. With many restaurants in the building, head right to the rooftop pool club on a Sunday afternoon for amazing people watching potential whilst sipping a cocktail in your bathers.  

2. What’s the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

The hottest Café in Sydney has to be Bondi Wholefoods. This café is offering delicious, organic produce that is clean and nutritious food making you want to come back again and again. Top Tip: Their acai bowl is by far the best in Sydney.

Another amazing café is the unassuming Twenty8 Acres. Run by two Irish Chefs, this café offers some of the best food in Sydney while their ‘The Botanist’ has to be my favourite breakfast dish in Sydney packed full of greens, eggs and delicious flavours.  

 3. What is the most exciting food trend in Sydney you would recommend trying at the moment?

If there’s one thing Sydney is brilliant at doing, it has to be clean, healthy food. More and more people are opting for wholefoods and gone are the days spent lining up at fast food outlets. There are loads of vegan and vegetarian options in most Sydney cafes and even the raw trend has really taken off so much so that I even saw a huge line of people waiting patiently to get into Sydney’s first Raw Café, Sadhana Kitchen recently. Massively popular raw chocolate brand Pana Chocolate has also recently opened a dessert bar that is full all the time.

4. What’s your pick for the best up and coming thing to do / attraction in Sydney?

My pick for the best thing to do in Sydney has to be a seaplane ride over Sydney harbour to the most beautiful restaurant called Cottage Point Inn which is situated in the national park north of Sydney. A half an hour sea plane ride to the restaurant takes you over the harbour and up the north coast landing right next to the restaurant. You’ll get a three course meal with excellent service from the staff to enjoy the beautiful, serene views over the water. On the return flight you’ll circle Sydney harbour with views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House twice before returning to land. It really is worth it as the views and food are completely priceless.  

5. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

There are so many little hidden gems in Sydney. Go to Alexandria to try out some of Sydney best cafes including The Grounds of Alexandria and Bread & Circus for their organic fresh produce.

Sydney has some of the best fashion markets on a weekend but my absolute favourite has to be Kirribilli Markets located just under the bridge on the north side next to Luna Park. They are held twice a month and offer local crafts to second hand fashion for super cheap prices. There is a lovely walking path right next to the market giving you uninterrupted views of the harbour from a different perspective on the other side of the bridge. 

The Royal National Park half an hour’s drive south of Sydney is magical. There are loads of walking tracks but the best part about it is the many deserted beaches to choose from. You’ll often find you’re the only one in the park which is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

10 William Street in Paddington offers an amazing selection of wines as a great small bar in Sydney while The Lord Dudley is a pub that feels like it’s been transported right out of London offering the best British Sunday Roasts in Sydney. 

jayneGirlTweetsWorldGirl Tweets World

Find more of her Sydney sights and food recommendations on Twitter and Instagram @jayneytravels.

Jayne Gorman is a travel blogger and social media manager from London who has been tweeting and eating her way around Sydney since moving to the city last year. With a passion for sweet treats and street art you’ll find a heavy dose of these subjects on her travel and lifestyle blog Girl Tweets World.

1. What’s the hottest place to be or be seen in Sydney at the moment?  

 The place to be seen at Sydney Fashion Week this year was The Gantry Bar and Restaurant at Pier One Sydney. The Gantry recently opened under the helm of Executive Chef Chris Irving, who worked alongside Gordon Ramsey for 4 years before becoming the personal chef to David and Victoria Beckham. Both the restaurant and bar offer enviable harbour views, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and skeleton boat sculptures, and make a hot new addition to this luxury harbour side hotel.

2. What’s the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

Devon On Danks is the latest offering from the team behind the popular Surry Hills eatery Devon Café. Housed in a light-flooded, industrial building in Waterloo, Devon On Danks offers sweet treats with an Asian twist (think: red bean and matcha cronuts). My favourite dish on the brunch menu is the Little Lost bread – Brioche French toast, with fresh and freeze dried strawberries, balsamic and strawberry gastrique, strawberry cheesecake ice cream and Arnott’s biscuit crumble. It looks just as beautiful as it tastes!

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

The newest boutique property on the block is 57 Hotel on Foveaux Street, Surry Hills. The hotel blends 70’s style décor with modern conveniences (such as free Wi-Fi) and an enviable location close to Surry Hills restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

4. What is the most interesting up and coming suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

I may biased because I live there but for me Waterloo and Alexandria can’t be beaten when it comes to cool cafes and eateries. Old warehouses and factories across the suburb have been transformed into foodie heavens. You can find organic, vegetable focused breakfasts at bread & circus, or raw, sugar-free desserts at Pana Chocolate. There’s coffee by Campos and at The Grounds Of Alexandria an old pie factory is now home to a coffee roasters, restaurant and weekend farmers market in one.

 5. What’s your pick for the most exciting experience / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

Taronga Zoo is one of Sydney’s most famous attractions but it has recently started offering a different way to get to meet its animal inhabitants. The Roar and Snore Package offers visitors the chance to camp in safari style tents at Taronga Zoo and wake up to spectacular harbour views as well as the roars, grunts and grumbles of the zoo animals. The package includes dinner, a night safari, breakfast and entry to the zoo in daylight hours. It’s certainly an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!

 6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

If champagne is your thing then be sure to book one of the blue-velvet lined booths at The Champagne Room at The Winery. The Champagne Room is Australia’s first Perrier-Jouet champagne bar and, aside from great champagne, they serve a menu of fresh seafood, charcuterie meats, chicken parfait and mini pies to accompany your tipple.

ShannonUrbanChicUrban Chic Guides

Follow Shannon on Twitter @urbanchicguides or instagram @shannoncremer Shannon Cremer is the Founder and Editor of food blog Urban Chic Guides. It’s fair to say she has spent the majority of her free time eating and entertaining her way through the globe’s greatest cities. She is particularly fond of her home city of Sydney and has made it her personal mission to recommend the best of Sydney’s eating and drinking experiences through her blog, Urban Chic Guides. She believes life is too short for a lacklustre latte.

1. Whats the hottest place to be or be seen in Sydney at the moment?  

It’s hard to narrow that down to just one place, but since you asked, I am going with ‘Nomad’. Sure, it’s a hot spot and a place to be seen, but it also serves up quality cuisine. That’s important to me. I don’t like to go to a restaurant simply because it is a ‘place to be seen’. The restaurant needs to back that up with good food and even better (and often overlooked) good service in my opinion. It’s always a pleasure to see when a restaurant can successfully bring all of that together.

2. Whats the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

Right now, I am loving ‘nel. restaurant’. At a time when Sydney dining is becoming increasingly more casual, ‘nel. restaurant’ has bucked the trend and opened as a degustation only restaurant. Bold move. The chef/owner is a young English guy and he’s serving up some amazing dishes at very reasonable prices. It’s exciting to see these young chefs changing the Sydney dining landscape.

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

It has to be ‘QT Sydney’! I love the quirky vintage cabaret style. Plus, it’s home to ‘Gowings Bar & Grill’ and ‘Gilt Lounge’ which are visited by more locals than hotel guests. Oh, and I love the DIY Cocktail Kits which they serve in their hotel rooms. A nice touch.

4. What is the most interesting up and coming suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

I am very excited about the new foodie hubs emerging in suburbs such as Alexandria, Waterloo, Redfern, Chippendale and surrounds. I think these are the spots to watch. These up and coming suburbs are still close to the city and easily accessible. It almost seems like every week there is a new hot spot opening up in these areas and it’s great to see. Watch this space!

5. Where can you find the trendiest new nightlife experience in Sydney?

My favourite areas for nightlife are the bordering suburbs of Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Potts Point. These areas have been trendy for a while and boast many of my favourite bars. There is always a new hot spot opening in these neighbourhoods and there is a great vibe and energy. You can’t go wrong.

6. Can you share with us a Sydney secret only the locals know about?

In the past few years (since the relaxation of the Liquor Licensing Laws) small bars have been popping up all over Sydney and I couldn’t be happier, but sometimes it is hard to keep up with them all! So I am going to let you in on a little secret. I recently visited a brand new small bar called ‘The Swinging Cat’. A New Orleans style underground den with plenty of seating, Southern style cocktails, old-fashioned hospitality and believe me you’re going to want to try their Wagyu Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

SilkeHappinessAndThingsSydney Happiness and Things

Follow Silke on Twitter @HappAndThings Silke came to Sydney more than a decade ago and is always on the go to discover new and exciting places, restaurants, events, and attractions around town. Her Sydney Blog Happiness and Things is the place where she will share her latest discoveries, not just in Sydney but also around the world. For Silke, it’s all about experiences and happiness, so writing for her blog is her way of inspiring readers to go out to explore this beautiful city, no matter whether you have been living here all your life or if you are just visiting. 

1. Whats the hottest place to be or be seen in Sydney at the moment?  

Dumpling house Tim Ho Wan has opened in Chatswood right above the railway station only a couple of weeks ago. What makes it so exciting is that this is a Michelin-starred restaurant, yet you won’t have to break the bank in order to eat here. You can easily find delicious dishes on the menu starting from under $10, such as sugar-crusted pork buns, spinach prawn dumplings and glutinous rice in lotus leaf. Afraid of the queue? Then you may want to gather some friends and book a VIP room – this way your can walk past the queue with a big grin on your face! There are plans to open more venues around Sydney, one right in George Street in the CBD, so if you dont want to venture out to Chatswood, just sit tight. 

2. Whats the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

If you love chocolate then have a look at Cloud 9 in Newtown. This place is keen to serve you the very best of chocolate, carefully sourced from the best producers all around the world. Start with a $1 chocolate shot (there are different ones to choose from), then continue on to the gelato slider. This is a spoonful of ice-cream of your choice between two delicious cookies – again, you can mix and match as you like! And if you are not so much of an ice-cream person, try the flour-less chocolate cake. Perfect if you want to take your girl out and spoil her with a chocolate-y treat. 

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

When talking about exciting new hotel openings, you can’t walk past the Langham Hotel in Sydney’s The Rocks. It’s a wonderfully designed luxury hotel with elegant interior designs with huge windows and Art-Deco inspired interiors. Check out the wonderful chandelier in the lobby and the stunning internal swimming pool! Afternoon tea at the Langham is legendary. Since it’s located in the Rocks, its sitting in a quiet position, yet only a couple of steps away from the big tourist attractions like the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay. The Rocks precinct is one of my favourite parts of this city – there are so many wonderful little shops, restaurants and cafes here, you can easily lose yourself in this most historic quarter of Sydney.

4. What is the most interesting up and coming suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

I am not sure if you could call it up and coming – it’s a classic that never gets old! Manly is just a ferry ride away, so if you are staying in a CBD hotel, just head to Circular Quay and off you go to a more relaxed and less urban side of Sydney. A ride on one of the Manly ferries is a must-do anyway for any visitor to Sydney. 

In Manly, there is something for everyone. So if you travel with kids, prepare to let them loose on the beaches and playgrounds, or on rainy days visit the Manly SeaLife which is usually less overrun than the one in Darling Harbour. 

If you like romance, take a walk along the water, either to Shelly Beach or along the harbour foreshore towards Fairlight. Want views and a bush experience and not afraid of some physical exercise? Follow Darley Road up to North Head for the best views of the harbour heads, the harbour, the Pacific and the city. Hungry? Have a South American inspired BBQ at Papi Chulo right on the wharf, or try the tacos at La Chica Bonita off the Corso. For drinks, the Manly Wharf Hotel serves wine and beer right on the water, the perfect spot to witness a romantic Manly sunset. If you are travelling on a budget, get your fill at the Chat Thai take-away restaurant on the wharf and enjoy your food in the park right next to the wharf – same views, less money you’ll spend. 

5. What’s your pick for the most exciting experience / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

Visitors should check out the Mystery Puzzle in 37 Bligh Street. It’s a great experience which is fun for all kinds of groups, even couples. You can play it with your family, your friends, or work colleagues. Imagine being locked up in a  room with only puzzles and clues to help you escape – and there’s a clock ticking away, so you have to cooperate to get out of the room as quickly as possible! It requires some logical thinking, you need to able to think outside the box… you will be most successful when you have a group of people with different skill-sets. The children for example will be great at finding the clues that are hidden in the room, while the adults might need to do some maths exercises. It really is good fun!

6. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

There’s this little cafe in King Street, the un-fashionable end, which I would like you to have a closer look at. It’s called Parliament on King and it is a tiny cafe where patrons have to compete for space with books, board games and tasteless decorative pieces. The kitchen is literally just a temporary setup in the very same room which used to be the living room in the original set-up. But what makes it so special is the mix of people and the friendly staff. You need to order the Fairy Bread here, which is called “Emma Stone’s Fairy Bread” in honour of the actress who happened to pop in one day and was introduced to this great Australian dish in this very place.

 sianBlondeTouristThe Blonde Tourist

Follow Siân on Twitter @blondetourist Siân is a freelance travel writer and a born-and-bred Sydney native who spends her weekends and annual leave touring her hometown and beyond. So far she has travelled to more than 20 countries while she chases her #30before30 bucket list. Follow her as she tours the globe to find the best places to eat, drink, stay and play!

1. What’s the hottest new tour you would recommend of Sydney?

A Guerilla Eats Progressive Food Crawl is a great way to get your bearings in Sydney. Grab a group of friends and join a tour. I went on Redfern’s Blackbeard in Paris tour but you can explore Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, The Rocks or CBD. Select your suburb of sin and you get a treasure map of bars and foodie haunt to visit – it’s that simple. I discovered a whole load of new places and had a blast running amok without the hassle of trying to decide where to go next. It was all decided for me and included delish food and drinks. 

2. Whats the most promising newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

Wow. This is a tough one; there are so many! The most recent place I’ve been to was Chiswick in the Gallery. An offshoot of Matt Moran’s popular Chiswick in Woollahra, the new restaurant in the Art Gallery of NSW just near The Domain is the perfect location for a lunch after visiting one of the Gallery’s exhibitions. Headed up by ex-Aria and Chiswick chef Laura Baratto, it follows a similar menu based on seasonal fresh produce. It’s a really lovely spot to enjoy a meal before walking around the harbour. The signature Moran Family Lamb Shoulder cannot be missed!

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

With its new multi-million revamp The Langham Sydney has to be top of the list. It was already five star but now they’ve stepped it up with a complete refurbishment and new features like personal butler service, a new restaurant Kent Street Kitchen which I’ll need to check out myself soon and their super cute Langham Pink Taxi service to take guests around the town in style. Luxury at its best!

4. What is your pick for the best new Sydney shopping spot ?

 Already known for its edgy art galleries like White Rabbit, Chippendale is now home to architectural wonder Central Park’s vertical shopping centre ‘the Living Mall’ featuring retail offerings, food favourites in the Central Kitchen and another art gallery or two (don’t miss Platform 72 or Ambush Gallery on Level 3 currently exhibiting a free Mambo collection until 26 April). It also has the Brewery Yard Markets which is Sydney’s newest markets held on the first and third Sunday every month.

I think Chippendale will only continue to become more popular when the new Kensington Street precinct is complete.

5. What is the best new bar in Sydney?

This is a fun one. The most recent bar I think is great is The Bearded Tit on Regent Street in Redfern. Part bar and part creative space, this up and comer runs on the theme of “Free love, not free beer”. Featuring quirky interiors including a mini-caravan out the back for ‘privacy’ and live music weekly, this bar is all about supporting local designers, artists and musicians. I haven’t been there when it wasn’t full.

6. What’s your pick for the most exciting experience / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

For adrenalin seekers, I have to say Indoor skydiving at iFly Downunder in Penrith was a super fun experience! It’s bit further out from the CBD in the self -described ‘adventure capital of NSW’ but I think it’s well worth the hour or so drive there to experience the feeling of flying without the ‘whole jumping out of a plane thing’. What a rush!

7. Anything you would like to add?

Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share? They’re probably not a secret anymore but two fantastic events I would recommend to any traveller coming to Sydney is Vivid Sydney (22 May – 8 June) and Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi (22 October – 8 November). Both events are truly fun experiences that grab our attention and fill the streets with crowds who come to see the lights and artworks scattered across the city. Both seem to get better and better each year!

ExcuseMeWaiterExcuse Me Waiter

Follow DK and Yvn on Twitter @emwfoodblog

DK & Yvn are two hungry Gen Y food fanatics documenting their food adventures on their blog Excuse Me Waiter. Although primarily based in Sydney, Excuse Me Waiter has also branched out domestically and globally, eating their way across Australia, Asia and Europe.

1. What’s the hottest restaurant or café in Sydney in 2015 and your recommended dish to try?

The Butler in Potts Point is a hidden gem, with spectacular views of the city skyline and also trendy décor, matching the French/Caribbean food they serve up. I’d highly recommend their addictive tabasco prawns with a fresh mango salsa and coconut quinoa.

2. What’s the most exciting newly opened bar and your recommended drink to try?

This Must Be The Place’ on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst. They’ve only opened up earlier this year and have the credentials to match, born out of two Australian Bartenders of the year. They offer a new spin on spritzers, steering away from the white wine, Campari and Aperol variety, and are refreshing and seriously addictive. Our vote for an afternoon special and the perfect excuse to enjoy a cocktail at 3pm.

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

It’s already 2 years old, but I think 1888 Hotel in Pyrmont is one of the most innovative and trendy hotels. Apart from the heritage feel, I especially like how they’ve embraced social media, encouraging guests to Instagram away and even featuring photos at reception. That’s a double tap like for them!

4. What is the most interesting up and coming foodie suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

The Inner West area in general has been booming lately with new cafes and restaurants, all of high quality. Newtown in particular is pretty great for visitors – it’s convenient by bus or train and has a huge range of places to choose from. One of the ones to watch is Cuckoo Callay (situated right next to the station). Although only opening last year, they’ve already been an instant hit with the masses, especially with their self-curated Festival of Bacon.

5. What is the best new entertainment venue in Sydney?

There are many new small bars and pubs popping up around the Inner Western suburbs. One of the best new ones is Lazy Bones Lounge in Marrickville. It’s a quirky and hidden venue which offers jazz entertainment. Other close by neighbours also include small bars like Corridor (Newtown) and Gasoline Pony (Marrickville) which are really giving the inner west a new edge.

6. What’s your pick for the most exciting experience / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

Originating in Paris over 25 years ago, Diner En Blanc finally made their way to our shores a little over a year ago and I think is one of the more interesting pop up dining experiences. It’s a mass picnic set at a secret location (released last minute) with a strict white-only dress code. Last year it was held at Centennial Park and it was truly a magical night, featuring art installations, dancing and a spectacular light show created by all guests waving sparklers in unison.

7. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

The carb appreciation society has certainly grown in membership over the last year. Bourke St Bakery has always been a classic, but we’ve seen an increase in really innovative and creative bakeries popping up in Sydney. The Dough Collective on George St has put a really fresh spin on the plain loaf by incorporating lychee, cream cheese, earl grey and orange. Newcomer Du Liban also highlights beautiful Middle Eastern and Arab flavours.

RafaelRuizTravel & Lifestyle

Follow Rafael on Twitter: @travelwithraf Created by Rafael Ruiz, based in Sydney, Travel & Lifestyle is a blog featuring the latest in Rafael’s travels; experiencing hotels and resorts across Australia and waiting for the next overseas adventure. Rafael has a passion for exciting and unique brands, celebrating innovative designs, on-trend styles and is a self-proclaimed food and bar lover.

1. What’s the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

Canadian-born Chef Chris Irving’s exciting restaurant  The Gantry in Walsh Bay speaks high-quality fresh produce and love within the dishes he creates. Soak up the views of the waterfront dining experience. The chef is a big advocate of local and sustainable produce. It’s an open-style kitchen, features a chef’s table and a cold seafood display. Seafood is the main focus here – Balmain and Moreton Bay Bugs, Eastern Rock Lobsters, Queensland Prawns, Hervey Bay Scallops and more.

2. What is the best new hotel in Sydney and why?

There hasn’t been a new Sydney hotel in recent years, however development is on the way for the new Sofitel in Darling Harbour and the Crown Sydney in Barangaroo. I am a person who enjoys boutique hotels, as they have a sense of character and look. The likes of 1888 Hotel and Establishment Hotel are in the top picks. But a new hotel I have recently discovered is QT Sydney.

A theatrical temptress in the heart of the CBD. It exudes quirky modern design in glam rooms, sexy staff uniforms, creative minibars, a hip barber in SpaQ and star quality culinary dishes from Gowings Bar and Grill. This fashion forward hotel is sexy, stylish and sassy.

3. What is the most popular food trend in Sydney you would recommend trying?

We all have different palates and sense of smell with it comes to dining. I feel there is a rise in the respect for vegetables and quality locals (small restaurants and bars). Especially for the blogging foodies with social media so easily in reach. There is a rising trend of New York inspired dining, whether it’s a mix tapas bar, wine, sharing boards (stay away from platters, make & choose your own mix treat) , Mojo’s by Luke Mangan, is a top favourite of mine at the moment. But wouldn’t mind trying Surly’s American Barbecue Bar in Surry Hills.

4. What is the best new small bar in Sydney?

I thoroughly enjoy searching for the next small or even hidden bar around Sydney. By word of mouth or just by walking around the favourite spots. Keep your eyes peeled, as some of Sydney’s best bars are tucked away and out of sight – search for the signs a queued alley way, corporate building rooftops, a bar within a bar. The Soda Factory, entry is through a Coca Cola vending machine; Baxter Inn is underground whisky bar in a hidden lane-way. But top pick for new small bar, The Swinging Cat. Think underground New Orleans style, this jazzy gem is an inviting spot where you can enjoy Sazerac recipes, great service and table service. Who knew what lurked underneath Subway on the corner of King and Clarence St.

5. What’s your pick for the best up and coming thing to do / attraction in Sydney?

Sydney is filled with different paid and free events all year round and it is hard to choose. Vivid Sydney, May 22 – June 8  colouring the city with creativity and inspirations, a hugely popular light immersed festival with performances, creative art and talent. Sydney Film Festival June 3-14 June, brings the best new films from around the world to Sydney, a packed program of short films, Australian film and documentaries to host and recognise the film makers.

6. What is the most interesting up and coming suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

Amongst the many places to visit in Sydney, the usual spots are Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Manly and Bondi Beach. Woollahra is a lush and leafy village housing international and known Australian designer stores, artful antiques, relaxed cafes and galleries.

Lisa HSydneySocial101Sydney Social 101

Follow Lisa on Twitter @SydneySocial101

Lisa founded Sydney Social 101 in Feb 2012.  The Social 101 network provides comprehensive city guides for young professionals and visitors who want to experience the elements of the city that appeal to their tastes! Lisa has a passion for travel, arts and culture and is launching the VIP Social 101 card in  mid-2015, which will offer members treats and incentives across Social 101 Approved clients.

1. Whats the hottest place to be or be seen in Sydney at the moment?

 The Coogee Pavilion Rooftop is the place to be seen in 2015, recently re-opened and re-furbished by Merivale it boasts a cool crowd, good food and great views. Located on the beachfront you can be sure to take in sea views whilst enjoying tasty cocktails and immersing yourself in the electric atmosphere.

 2. What’s the most exciting newly opened Sydney restaurant / cafe of 2015 and why?

The Butler in Potts Point is a stunning restaurant with amazing views over the Sydney landscape. The food is delicious and it always has a great atmosphere. It also has a separate quaint bar section upstairs if you just wanted to sample one of its amazing cocktails whilst chatting to the friendly bar staff.

3. What is the best new hotel in Sydney?

There are so many amazing hotels in Sydney, it’s hard to choose just one. It also depends on what you’re looking for:

* Best for City Break

The QT Hotel in Sydney is quirky, stylish and in a great city centre location. Head for drinks in one of its stunning bars: Gowings Bar & Grill, GILT Lounge or Parlour Lane Roasters

* Best for a Special Occasion

The InterContinental in Double Bay is an absolutely breathtaking hotel with opulent interiors. It boasts a stunning rooftop pool with panoramic views of Sydney’s skyline exclusively for paying guests.

* Best for a splurge

The Langham Hotel in Sydney has recently undergone a massive refurbishment and looks incredible – it’s hard to believe it’s the same hotel. Guests can take advantage of the day Spa, which has one of the best pools in Sydney.

4. What is the most interesting up and coming suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

Newtown is the best place to head if you’re looking for a bit of culture and amazing food and drinks. The Enmore Theatre is an intimate venue with a cool vibe and is playing host to acts such as Ross Noble, Noel Fielding and Olly Murs over the coming months.

If you love burgers, you HAVE to check out Mary’s – the best burgers in Sydney by far!

5. What is the best new small bar in Sydney?

There are so many small bars popping up all the time, which is great for Sydney’s bar scene. I’m a huge fan of The Powder Keg and the cocktails are to DIE for! I love a bar with friendly bar staff, Hinky Dinks isn’t a new bar, but it should be on your list. The welcoming bar staff always greet you when you arrive and thank you for coming when you leave – manners don’t cost anything and make all the difference!

6. What’s your pick for the most exciting experience / attraction in Sydney (opened in the last year)?

A new twist on an old staple – Sydney’s iconic Opera Bar underwent a major refurbishment and it looks incredible! The view never gets old and the food and drink offering is incredible.

My ideal time to go to the Opera Bar is after work at twilight to watch the sun go down whilst enjoying a glass of bubbles – if you can head to watch opera after, which would be the icing on the cake! AIDA is currently on in the open air overlooking Sydney Harbour Fleet Steps at Mrs Macquarie’s Point – to watch the Opera in the open air with Sydney Harbour as the backdrop is simply one of the most incredible experiences I have ever been lucky enough to see. Make sure you check the schedule for the Open Air Opera whilst you’re here to ensure you don’t miss out!

Note – In the summer months St George Open Air Cinema is on, this is also an amazing experience. Book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

7. Anything you would like to add? Have you discovered any amazing hidden gems for food, travel, coffee, wine that you would like to share?

There are a few places that you simply must put on your hit list when visiting Sydney:

Shady Pines – A hidden small bar in trendy Darlinghurst, the fresh apple vodkas are delicious, but dangerous!

Pablo & Rusty’s – This trendy café located on Castlereagh Street is a great spot for a coffee when you’re exploring the CBD – rest your feet after spending the day pounding the pavements whilst getting your caffeine fix!

Red Leaf Beach – One of the lesser known beaches in the Eastern Suburbs yet one of the most stunning! If you can find it, it will be worth the exploration!

Finally, Watson’s Bay – if you’re going to go anywhere in Sydney, make sure you pop Watson’s Bay on your list! The view of the sunset from the deck is like nothing you have ever seen before!

mademoiselleMademoiselle In Sydney

Olivia is a Sydney based French foodie with a Chinese background. She likes slow cooked beef cheeks, brioche, boudin noir and French Waffles made by her French husband. She eats everything aside from bitter cucumber and urchins. 

Follow Olivia on Twitter @madameinsydney

1. What’s the hottest restaurant or café in Sydney in 2015 and your recommended dish to try? 

The hottest restaurant in 2015 is for me, Raita Noda Chef’s Kitchen, It’s an omakase type of restaurant, so this means the chef chooses what you’re going to eat. I love it as it’s intimate and there’s no choosing one dish over another and feeling you might have missed out as you get to sample everything! 

2. What is the most interesting up and coming foodie suburb in Sydney for visitors and why?

I love Potts Point’s dining scene, there are always new restaurants opening in the area. Kylie Kwong relocated her successful Billy Kwong restaurant from Surry Hills, Cho Cho San opened a year ago. There’s always something new to try!

3. What is the best new entertainment venue in Sydney?

The conservatorium is not a new entertainment venue, but one company, My Music Detour, offers a tour of the conservatorium. They started about a year ago and their tour offers the opportunity to learn more about the unknown history of Sydney’s conservatorium.

4. Can you share with us a Sydney secret only the locals know about?

I love markets, but there’s one that is particularly dear to my heart, it’s called “BBR” and stands for Bleu Blanc Rouge, the colours of the French flag (and the Aussie flag). I’m not sure it’s really a secret since it’s on every year around July the 14th (Bastille Day). It’s everything I miss from home in one place: Charcuterie, cheeses, French cider, crêpes and much more! I think it’ll take place in Circular Quay, right outside Customs’ House.

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