Leila George checks in at the Westin, Sydney.


1 Martin Place, right in the middle of Sydney's CBD.

How big? There are 416 rooms and suites in a 31-storey tower that also incorporates the original former General Post Office building. The Tower rooms are modern in style and the Heritage rooms (in the old GPO) are in historic style, with high ceilings and antique touches.

Price: Tower Superior rooms start at $353 per night. I was upgraded to an Executive Room with access to the Executive Lounge - a perk of the Starwood Preferred Guest programme.


Check-in experience: Fairly quick (as you'd expect when arriving after 11pm) but the absence of a doorman meant that we had to lug our own bags into the lobby. No biggie, but not what might be expected in a five-star establishment (and which charges accordingly). I've encountered it before at the Westin, too.

What's so good about this place? The central location is unbeatable. Architecturally, the melding of the old GPO building with the new Tower wing is stunning and the food court and restaurants in the basement are top-notch.

And the bad? There's little in the way of views.

What's in the neighbourhood? Nothing is far away from such a central location.

Food and drink: The Westin has two restaurants, Mosaic and The Bar Lounge and Room. Mosaic is the hotel's signature restaurant while The Bar offers snacks, light lunches and afternoon teas. The room service menu is limited, but the food was good and the chef was happy to spice up the otherwise very mild Thai green chicken curry at my request.

Executive Lounge: I'm a bit unsure about the Westin Lounge; it's hard to escape the feeling that it's trying a little too hard. There is limited seating and the evening hors d'oeuvres comprised one plate per person containing three small individual items and a chocolate. Although immaculately presented, the flavours were hit and miss. Though the rooms at the Westin are superior to those at the nearby Sheraton on the Park, the Westin's lounge is not a patch on the Sheraton Club Lounge. When asked later by management to give my opinion of the lounge, I was sniffily informed that the Sheraton's approach was 'not the intended atmosphere of our lounge'. Hmm.

Entertainment: The usual TV channels were present but, oddly, not all the free-to-air ones.

The bed: A Westin Heavenly Bed: very comfy.

Bathroom: Looks back into the room, so not ideal for everyone, but there is a blind that can be lowered for greater privacy. The rain shower was among the best I've encountered.

Noise: The clock on the old GPO building will chime every 15 minutes from 8am to 8pm.

Perfect for: A convenient base in the centre of the city.

Would I return? I think so. There were probably enough positives to offset the negatives.