My visit to Sydney is unfortunately going to be a quick one – I’m here essentially on an extended layover en route to Thailand. Shortly after arriving, I realized it’s a city I could quickly fall in love with.
Almost as quickly as I fell in love with the Sydney Harbour YHA.
It’s a flash, recently built, and perfectly located backpackers in Sydney’s historic The Rocks neighborhood. The backpackers brings everything to the table you could ask for on your visit to Australia’s largest city – a central location, clean four and six bed en suite dorms, WiFi throughout, a well equipped kichen, on-site cafe, and as it’s purpose-built there are brand new facilities throughout.
A Hostel With … History
The Sydney Harbour YHA offers something you’d rarely expect (or even look for) in a hostel – an interesting history. You’re greeted with a variety of things when you first step foot into a backpackers – sometimes it’s a bar while other times it’s a nauseating stench.
When you enter the front door of the Sydney Harbour YHA, you’re greeted with the archaeological remains of Australia’s earliest European settlement.
The First Fleet arrived to the new colony of Australia only a few hundred meters away from where the YHA now stands. These early European settlers arrived in 1788 and soon began to build a settlement including houses, hotels, abattoirs, a bakery and even an illegal still. The site was inhabited until the late 1800s and was the home of over 300 people.
In the early 1900s the bubonic plague broke out in Sydney, and the government used this as an opportunity to demolish areas they saw as slums – including this site. Many buildings of the area were destroyed, the inhabitants relocated and the area built up with industry and car parking.
In the late 1990s archaeological excavations began to unveil the remains of this early community – over 40 houses and amost 750,000 artifacts on this site. YHA was approved to develop the site and the purpose built hostel opened in November of 2009.
The hostel was built on pillars to maintain visual appeal and physical access to the site. It’s an interesting twist to the hostel with informative signs throughout highlighting the location’s history.
Sweeping Views Across the Sydney Harbour
The highlight of the hostel is the rooftop terrace. You’re afforded some unbelievable views of the Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and of course the Sydney Opera House. It’s a fantastic place to recover from a night spent sleeping in the Christchurch airport – and there’s WiFi too.
Something I found many hostels in NZ boasted about – but very few followed through on – was the commitment to being green. YHA runs eco-hostels in rural areas in Auz and have taken steps to ensure the YHA Sydney Harbour is environmentally sustainable as well.
Some sweet things they’re doing include …
- Solar hot water
- 80,000 liter rain water retention tank for toilet flushing
- Key card activated lights in the rooms
- Air-con in the rooms turns off when the window opens
The Bottom Line …
You can’t beat the location – you’re in a great neighborhood (where you won’t find any other budget accommodation) with excellent bars, cafes, galleries and restaurants nearby.
You’ll have to pay for it though. With six-share dorms at about $40/night – and WiFi $9.95 on top of that, it’s one of the most expensive hostels in Sydney. A complimentary hour or two of internet time on check in would good – chances are I’d tell my Facebook fans and Twitter contacts how great the hostel was, only benefiting the YHA in the long run.
Nonetheless, with brand new facilities it’s well-worth the extra $5 – $10 / night compared to cheaper Sydney Hostels. Many of Sydney’s main sites including the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, and the Harbour Bridge are only a minutes walk away and it’s the ideal spot to base yourself on a visit to the city.
For more about the Sydney Harbour YHA, check out their website.
Disclaimer: While the Sydney Harbour YHA provided me with a complimentary nights stay in return for a review on Backpackingmatt.com, the opinions above are entirely my own.