Morris is doing the crossword when I spot him in the hotel lobby. Spectacles perched on his nose, head slightly bowed, a hot chocolate on the table in front of him. Silent, intent. But it’s not long before he’s interrupted. A gushing female guest approaches, peers at the newspaper on the desk, strokes his head…and then moves on.
Morris is used to this kind of attention from guests at Sir Stamford at Circular Quay. He moved in not long after general manager Heather Idoine arrived from New Zealand to take the reins of the five-star Sydney hotel about a year ago, and has become a firm favourite with guests.
Check out the hotel’s Facebook page and you’ll find Morris is a prominent star. The large toy wombat roams around the hotel; sometimes you’ll find him in the laundry, the kitchen or at the concierge desk. At other times, he vanishes into a guest room for a while, or perhaps is taken to the opera by smitten guests. You just never know where he will pop up.
It’s a cute gimmick, but it’s not the only thing that I like about this hotel. In a world where lots of hotels look like they’ve been designed by the same person (or, as someone once opined to me “a couple of angry gay guys”) and are all beige and brown and sharp corners, it’s nice to find somewhere that’s truly comfortable. Sir Stamford finds a middle ground between opulence and old-fashioned style. There are chandeliers and fireplaces, but the chairs aren’t too over-stuffed or chintzy and the staff are chatty and warm. There’s no snobbishness, even though the list of celebrities and world leaders who’ve stayed here is long.
And the guest rooms are huge. I think I’ve been upgraded to a suite, but in fact I’m just staying in a standard room that’s larger than most. In the morning, I open the doors onto my small balcony and look out across Macquarie Street onto the back of the Sydney Opera House and glimpses of the harbour. Ibis are circling and landing in the palm trees between me and the freeway (but when the doors are shut, the noise disappears).
Over two days in Sydney, I stay at two Stamfords (the other is the less upmarket Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport). And there’s something else I note about them.
While many hotels pitch the token “keep your towel and save the environment” (that’s if their staff bother to follow it), Stamford hotels appeal to the guest’s hip pocket in an effort to have their pitch taken seriously.
The “Grow a Greener Future” option gives a $10 credit off your food and beverage bill for each day you request “no service”. Just put the pale green card (shaped in the Stamford knight’s helmet logo, on recycled paper of course) on your pillow and your room won’t be serviced. And of course, it only applies if you’re staying two nights or more.
A Glass Half Full stayed as a guest of Stamford Hotels & Resorts.