AUSTRALIA: As one of Sydney’s most historic areas, Surry Hills is no stranger to evolution. From its origins as a working-class suburb full of pubs and workers’ cottages to its present-day reputation as one of Sydney’s premier destinations for everything and anything, Surry Hills is a local area that allows visitors to see the Harbour City throughout the ages. Not only does this charming foodie destination provide many of the best things to do in Sydney, but it also gives you a mishmash of truly Australian experiences.
Art & Architecture
Home to many of Sydney’s architects and designers, its no surprise that wandering the streets of Surry Hills will leave you inspired to reconvert a heritage building into your very own piece of paradise. That’s exactly what many locals have done – created modern living in the charming cottages of yesteryear, as seen on the quaint Riley Street or the reconverted St. Mary’s Hospital. Architecture lovers can also rely on the stock of the wonderful The Architect’s Bookshop, which is open daily and offers a local and international selection of books on architecture and design.
Those looking to explore local art should head to the Brett Whiteley Studio, which was the workspace and home of the gallery’s namesake local artist. The studio is not only an art space that offers changing exhibitions of his works, but it offers insight into his life, unfinished paintings and a picture-worthy graffiti wall covered in quotes and images inspired by the artist. For a taste of contemporary art in Australia, head to the M2 Gallery on Elizabeth Street. The gallery's focus is on embracing the artist’s personal style and celebrating a wide range of artistic expression, as well as offering a variety of pop-up stores, seminars and group gatherings.
Drinking & Dining
The only rule for eating in Surry Hills? Arrive hungry, as you will be provided with the city’s most diverse, eclectic and delectable range of restaurants and bars. Start the day with a selection of sweet treats and pastries from the iconic local bakers at the Bourke Street Bakery, which offers pastries that are so good it makes the queuing worth it. Wash down your breakfast with a coffee by micro roastery Reuben Hills, a funky cafe that offers some of the best brew in the city. If you’re lucky enough to be in Surry Hills on the weekend, head to Dead Ringer for a boozy bottomless brunch. This is an insight into Australia’s famous brunch culture, with local produce and a Pan-Asian flair giving it true charm (not to mention its setting in a heritage townhouse!).
Or, indulge in a dinner date in one of the area’s best dining spots; The Dolphin Hotel offers a lively Italian flair; sample modern Australian cuisine at Bills Surry Hills; or discover innovation vegeterian at Yulli's. When you’re well fed, there’s only one more thing to do: get your cocktail on! While there are too many bars to mention, here’s a special shout out to Button Bar – who doesn’t want to go to a pirate-themed cocktail bar?
Music & Theatre
When the sun goes down, there's an unlimited list of entertainment options in Surry Hills. If you fancy watching musicians jam the night away or some of Australia’s best comedians working on their material, head to the quirky Café Lounge on Goulburn Street. Mondays is the legendary Comedy Lounge; Wednesdays are a weekly jazz jam session and the weekend hosts a variety of comedy and music events. For a dedicated music space, head to underground jazz club Venue 505 for a cocktail and some world-class beats. A performance space run by artists, the quality is unparalleled and the weekly line-up of international talent remarkable – the space runs a variety of live music six nights a week, with a focus on jazz, blues and soul.
For some live theatre in a much-loved historic venue, head to the Belvoir Theatre. Here, you can see a variety of up-and-coming playwrights and actors showcase the country’s best talents in a venue owned and operated by an art collective that champions innovation.
This isn't the kind of place you want to venture to on a daytrip - Surry Hills has so much to offer, there's never enough time to sample all of the facets this inner-city Sydney suburb has to offer. The best way is to immerse yourself in the neighbourhood, using a fully-equipped apartment as a base to stretch out and relax in between visits to galleries, shops, bars and restaurants. In order to experience Surry Hills and all its charms, there's no better place to base yourself than Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills. Not only is the apartment hotel amongst the action of Crown Street, it provides access to all the best things to do in Sydney and some killer views of the downtown skyline (see below).