The Laidback Luxury of the Hotel Margot Kimpton Sydney

Located in the city's center, this heritage building has been thoughtfully refurbished to prioritize guests and locals alike

Located in one of Sydney’s most beautiful Art Deco buildings, the Margot Kimpton (named for various Australian women artists, including Margaret Preston) combines heritage elements with contemporary style. While palatial, the hotel’s vast spaces are balanced by intimate corners with a focus on thoughtful details. Plush fabrics contrast the lobby’s expansive glass-tiled ceiling, verdant plants soften grandiose scagliola plaster columns and heritage-protected elements abound throughout the nine-floor property.

The imposing but lovely building—which was the office of Sydney’s Water Board from its construction in 1939 until 2009—was restored carefully to become the Primus Hotel, which it operated as for several years. For its latest refresh, the team at Kimpton wanted to imbue the property with a feminine, artistic atmosphere that feels simultaneously laidback but luxurious.

Perfectly timed to open along with Australia’s borders, the Margot Kimpton Sydney (the brand’s first hotel in the country) has been welcoming guests since Valentine’s Day. General manager Bruce Ryde has been working toward the opening for many months and, despite various delays and supply chain issues, he’s excited about what they have achieved—and for what they have planned. Ryde has worked in luxury hotels (in operations and branding) all over the world for decades, but Sydney is once again home, and the hotel’s focus on celebrating the city aligns with Ryde’s approach.

“The hotel has its own persona and it’s important to us that we respect our persona in everything that we do,” he tells us. Breathing life into the hotel’s personification, Ryde continues, “She’s very into art, so we have 600 original pieces and we’ve got associations, we’re working on associations with the New South Wales Art Gallery. She loves theater. She loves good food, so we’re connected with the in-the-know areas of Sydney. It’s important to us that we are working with the southern city—we’re working with Surry Hills, the Hyde Park area, Darlinghurst. This is not the harbor, not the Opera House. We’re naturally aligned with a local feel.”

Food and wine are central to the hotel, not only for guests but also for locals. For that reason, Margot Kimpton recruited beloved Sydney-based chef Luke Mangan to helm the sophisticated restaurant, Luke’s Kitchen, and cafe (which serves MOTHERSKY coffee). The former offers everything from casual (but expertly executed) breakfasts to wine tastings, business lunches and boozy brunches—complete with Bloody Mary trolleys.

“We want this to be a place where people wander in and have a coffee or cocktail at lunch, listen to music, read a book, work on their computer, go up to the roof and have a fabulous meal,” Ryde tells us. “We want it to be very communal.”

The 172 guest rooms are located on various upper levels, some of which were the executive floors of the Water Board. Hallways lined with original canary yellow-hued tiles give way to large rooms with high ceilings and pleasantly ample bathrooms—many with tubs. Local artist Georgia Draws A House created the illustrated robes, and the various shampoos, conditioners, cleansers and soaps are by Mr Smith.

So many spaces in the hotel are activated. On the roof, there are plenty of places to sit and relax, as well as a pool. But Ryde informs us there are grand plans for the space and it will become another restaurant and bar, hopefully opening later this year.

Back downstairs, at the opposite end of the lobby from the limestone counter (where locals used to pay their water bills) that is the reception desk  sits the Wilmot Bar. Replete with curved, Art Deco-inspired lighting and blush-colored seating, the bar offers up signature, botanical cocktails, plenty of Australian wines and beers and bar snacks like shrimp toast and zucchini flowers.

The lobby—which is subtly sectioned thanks to shelves filled with vessels, sculptures and plants—functions as a cafe, bar and reception and an entry to Luke’s Kitchen. While that could be the formula for a chaotic space, the energy is vibrant but laidback. It’s the hotel’s heart, and the perfect introduction to the overall atmosphere of the property—one that’s nostalgic but contemporary, calm but spirited.

Images courtesy of Kimpton