Riley St Garage
Palmer & Co
Sydney’s no stranger to beauty. We’re surrounded by it – the landscapes, the buildings, the hotels and yes, the bars. Whether they’re bright and airy or dark and mysterious, this city is dotted with bars that have gone above and beyond in the name of good design. Here, we round up the drinking holes with the most beautiful interiors. Hello, happy hour!
A speakeasy-style bar that’s a throwback to the Prohibition era of the 1920s. And it sticks to its sophisticated theme with the help of exposed brick walls, timber accents, and dim lighting, as well as decorations by the deft hand of Sibella Court. The dapper staff and flapper waitresses add to the basement bar’s speakeasy vibe, as do the live music performances (which are on Tuesday through Saturday).
Abercrombie Lane, Sydney
The bar and restaurant has a tropical-meets-colonial theme that’s fresh, playful and stylish. The street level bar is warm and inviting with tartan armchairs, rugs, sandstone walls and greenery. That opens up to the main dining room, featuring high ceilings, wicker furniture and exotic botanical wallpaper. Then, there’s the terrace, a large, leafy spot that boasts incredible views of the Sydney skyline.
123 Victoria Street, Potts Point
Kittyhawk captures the essence of Liberation Day in Paris – when everyone was out dancing and drinking champagne to celebrate their freedom from WWII. The 1940s theme is continued with hand-dyed khaki leather booths, antique mirrors, vintage French tiles, and upholstery and wallpaper from the era complete with authentic artefacts like WWII squadron hats and Morse code devices. The attention to detail is amazing.
16 Phillip Lane, Sydney
Back in 2015, The Tilbury got a swish makeover that put it on the best-dressed list. Masterminded by award-winning design firm Luchetti Krelle the interiors is bright and fresh, with airy, open spaces, soft pastels, light timbers and brassy details. The new courtyard is another delight for design lovers. It has pops of bold colour, and its varied seating and laidback vibe make it the perfect place to go for a sunny Sunday session.
12-18 Nicholson Street, Woolloomooloo
Edging out over 800 entries to nab the ‘Best International Bar’ title at London’s Restaurant & Bar Design Awards. Impressed? Same. The space is the definition of industrial-chic, with concrete and wooden accents, a shiny copper bar, booths that look like whisky barrels, and a (very fitting) wall of casks. The fit-out is accredited to ACME & Co (who also designed The Grounds), and the bar itself serves up top-shelf beer, wine and spirits.
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery
A bar, restaurant and pub with a minimal yet striking interior. In a nod to Paddington’s past, the space was designed to look like a classic butchery, complete with white glazed ceramic tiles, timber panelling and dark timber furniture in the front bar. An intimate seating behind the bar, and the upstairs pub-slash-restaurant, takes a different vibe: booth seating, mirrored tables, and a leather-fronted cocktail bar.
384 Oxford Street, Paddington
Local favourite Manly Wine is a stylish mix of laidback Australian beach culture and Hamptons beach house opulence. Across the road from the iconic Manly Beach, the venue is a trendy oasis featuring wicker furniture, lush printed cushions, white slated walls and mosaic tiled pillars. This is the perfect beachside spot for an après-beach meal, relaxed Sunday brunch or romantic dinner for two.
8 - 13 South Steyne, Manly
Located in an Art Deco warehouse in Woolloomooloo, Riley St Garage is effortlessly edgy. It’s glamorous and glossy, with dim lighting, leather seats, and a backlit bar serving a luxe (and pun-ny) drinks list. The bar leans into the Art Deco theme, playing a jazzy soundtrack while the ‘mechanics’ dish up an indulgent menu of share plates and bigger bites.
55 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo