THE CITY The Australian: A Heritage Hotel
100 Cumberland St., The Rocks, 011-61-2/9247-2229, australianheritagehotel.com
A heritage B&B-style hotel built early last century, with antique furnishings, a guest parlor, and shared bathrooms, in the heart of The Rocks. The popular rooftop garden has views of the Harbour Bridge, and the food is Australian casual-try an emu pizza if you dare. Doubles from $96, including continental buffet breakfast.
THE CITY Medina Executive Sydney Central
2 Lee St., Haymarket, 011-61-2/8396-9800, medinaapartments.com.au
This Australia-wide chain provides dependable apartment-style accommodations. Each unit has a full kitchen and a washer/dryer, and there's a heated lap pool, gym, spa, and sauna. The Haymarket location occupies the handsome former Parcels Post Office building, on a busy intersection close to Chinatown and Sydney University. Doubles from $142 when booked online.
COOGEE Dive Hotel
243 Arden St., 011-61-2/9665-5538, divehotel.com.au
Set right above Coogee Beach. It has big, bright rooms and stainless steel fixtures and ocean-blue tiles in the bathrooms. Rooms 1 and 2 have the only views. The hotel's three-bedroom annex, a small house that sleeps up to seven, is nearby on Alexandria St., and two blocks from the beach. Doubles from $125, including breakfast. Annex from $265.
DARLINGHURST The Chelsea
49 Womerah Ave., 011-61-2/9380-5994, chelsea.citysearch.com.au
A row of stately Victorian terrace houses lovingly converted into a boutique hotel. Rooms are either French provincial (tapestries and Louis XV chairs) or contemporary (blond oak and Starck-like bathrooms). There's a charming garden with patio. Doubles from $108, including breakfast.
114 Darlinghurst Rd., 011-61-2/9360-6868, lotel.com.au
Set in the center of the buzzing, café-filled Darlinghurst. Popular with a young crowd, the 16 suites were designed by Burley Katon Halliday, one of Australia's best-known architecture firms. Each is individually decorated in a minimalist style and some have balconies. Within walking distance of downtown, Kings Cross, and the harbor. Doubles from $115.
PADDINGTON Hughenden Boutique Hotel
14 Queen St., Woollahra, 011-61-2/9363-4863, hughendenhotel.com.au
In the heart of Paddington, a short walk from Oxford St. fashion and food, Queen St. antiques, and the lovely Centennial Park. It's packed with 19th-century charm, from marble fireplaces to a grand piano, and it has an artist-in-residence program and an on-site café. Doubles from $112, including breakfast.
RUSHCUTTERS BAY Vibe Hotel
100 Bayswater Rd., 011-61-2/8353-8988, vibehotels.com
Despite the name, the atmosphere inside Vibe is kind of flat-rooms are comfortable but not sensational. The real draw is the outdoor heated rooftop pool that overlooks pretty Rushcutters Bay and the marina beyond. There's also a gym, steam room, and deck for sunbathing. Near the sceney cafés of Potts Point and Darlinghurst. Doubles from $120.
SPLURGE Regents Court
18 Springfield Ave., Potts Point, 011-61-2/9358-1533, regentscourt.com.au
Discreet and centrally located in Potts Point, and a favorite of visiting media and creative types. The 30 studio apartments are stylish and comfortable-all dark woods and natural fibers-though they can get a little noisy on weekends, when neighboring Kings Cross is in full party mode. Note: There's a flourishing rooftop garden, where guests can barbecue. Doubles from $170.
SPLURGE Establishment Hotel
5 Bridge Ln., 011-61-2/9240-3100, establishmenthotel.com
Great central location in the CBD (central business district) and lots of glitz. Each of the 33 rooms features one of two designs: "urban" (sleek and industrial, with polished black floorboards and high, warehouse-style ceilings) or "luxe" (paler coffee tones, with thick carpeting and soft lighting). There are two restaurants, five bars, and a popular nightclub in the building. Doubles from $237.
TIP: Gratuities Tips aren't expected in bars and hotels, but feel free to slip your bartender or bellhop something if you feel the service warrants it. Do add 10 percent to restaurant checks when you've enjoyed the experience, though it's certainly not required. Also, it's customary to round up on cab fares.