So if you missed the news – Trav and I got engaged!
I knew it was coming as I had already picked out my ring and when Trav said he had booked us a surprise weekend away, I was pretty sure it was going to happen then. Especially because he has never booked a surprise weekend away for us before in the nearly eight years that we have been together. So you can see why I thought something was fishy.
But then he proposed two weeks before the trip.
He did it overlooking one of my favourite beaches, Shelly Beach, on a rocky promontory amidst a mysterious sea mist that was rolling over the coast. He knew I was onto him and because he really wanted it to be a surprise, he did it earlier than he had originally planned.
But we were still going away for the surprise weekend.
As I am the master planner and obsessive traveller of the two of us, Trav never gets a chance to plan any of our travels so I was excited to find out what was on the agenda. We aren’t very good at keeping secrets from each other so he ended up telling me where we were going soon after the proposal, rather than having me trying to guess for two weeks. I guess that would get annoying.
Trav had booked a five star hotel in Sydney. We were going to be staying at the Four Seasons in Circular Quay!
I have never stayed in a five star hotel before and I was excited to see another side to the city that we call home. Trav did well, VERY well.
He got us the romance package which included one nights accommodation in a harbour view room, two cocktails in the Hotel’s Bar, canapes and champagne in the room on arrival, room service breakfast and a late check out of 3pm. Bliss.
I had been to the bar in the Four Season’s Restaurant, Pei Modern, with a friend who was visiting Sydney on business back in March. When we arrived in the lobby, it was just as elegant as I remembered. I loved the special Christmas touches including the huge tree dominating the lobby beside the grand staircase.
The Receptionist was kind enough to book us into a room on the 30th floor so that we would have a spectacular birds eye view of the world famous Sydney Harbour. The room was plush and the view was even better than we expected. We could see both the Harbour bridge and the Opera house and we got to see them in both brilliant sunshine as well as hazy rain. It was four seasons in 24 hours during our stay and I quite liked that. It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I am in a warm bubble while it is storming outside. And sunshine is sunshine, always welcome.
After checking out the free stuff in the room (hello new mini toiletries!) and excitedly putting on the lush robes provided, we headed down to the pool. Ever since I was little I have been obsessed with swimming pools. We never had one growing up so they always held a magical appeal. Whenever we do book into Hotels, which for us Budget travellers isn’t very often, the most important thing for me is whether it has a pool. Second most important is if it also has a jacuzzi. Luckily the Four Seasons had both.
And what a pool! I absolutely loved the setting in amongst the skyscrapers of downtown Sydney. Lined with comfortable day beds and large umbrellas to protect from the harsh Australian sun, it was an oasis in the hubbub of the city. Being there made me feel like we were part of an exclusive club, which I guess we were, if only for 24 hours.
We had a quick dip in the jacuzzi, then the pool, then the jacuzzi again before it was time to head back to the room for our canapes and champagne. There was a knock on our door right on schedule and in came the trays of deliciousness including lavosh crackers, parma ham, hummus, smoked salmon, cheddar cheese, a selection of tarts and cakes and even a box of chocolates.
Our exceedingly helpful room service waiter laid everything out on our table and poured us glasses of champagne before leaving us to devour it, which we did, quite happily.
The rain started falling as we ate. The view over the harbour changed dramatically from earlier when the sun had been shining. Sitting in our robes and watching the rain drops chart a course down the window made us feel snug and warm in our luxurious room.
After we had finished eating, I lay in our giant bed with my glass of champagne, reading a couple of the provided luxury travel magazines. I could definitely get used to this.
Although we could have quite easily stayed in our room watching Shark Week in our robes all night, we decided to continue the luxury theme and go out for a couple of cocktails in the city. Our first stop was Grain, the Four Seasons’ beautiful artisan bar that specialises in whiskey and classic cocktails. I loved the dark, wood-panelled interior and my Winter Cure cocktail with vodka, ginger liqueur, raspberry and ginger beer was gorgeous. It was a perfect place to be on a dark and stormy evening in Sydney.
We braved the sideways rain, huddled under my small and slightly battered umbrella to pop around the corner to another luxury Hotel, the Shangri La, to visit their cocktail bar on level 36, aptly named Blu Bar on 36. I had wanted to visit for a while because the views are meant to be incredible, as well as the cocktails.
And they were.
Wowza, the views were something else. I love the vibrancy of a big city from above at night and Sydney was alive with colourful lights. It reminded me so much of the evening view from the John Hancock tower in Chicago. Sometimes I forget I live in a big, cosmopolitan city as the suburb that we live in is like a small town. The visually chaotic birds-eye view reminded me how big Sydney actually is.
We rounded off our evening out with a light dinner at the Munich style beer hall, Lowenbrau, in one of Sydney’s oldest districts, the Rocks. There was a great atmosphere in the large beer hall but unfortunately it was full so we had to sit in the more sedate covered terrace. The food turned out to be overpriced and disappointed with a misleading menu. Unfortunately it was a less than stellar ending to our evening.
But then we went back to our amazing room and all was well again.
I had one of the best sleeps ever in our comfy bed, surrounded by plush cushions and a duck down duvet. It was like sleeping on a cloud.
Breakfast the next morning was another extravagant affair with fresh fruit, pastries, coffee, juices and our cooked dishes expertly laid out on our table. I imagine it was the best view I have ever had while eating breakfast. Sydney Harbour was magnificent in the morning light.
Our last few hours were spent back by the pool, reading on sun loungers and diving into the cool waters when it got too hot. It was a perfect end to a perfect weekend. A rare weekend of luxury in the city we call home.
The only problem is that I could get used to.