Summer in Sydney, Girlfriend Style

Nikki ParkinsonLife, Travel 115 Comments

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As I stepped into the lift, the music switched from upbeat dance music to Elvis crooning … Are You Lonesome Tonight?

I wanted to stamp my feet. No I’m NOT lonesome.

I wanted to protest that I was actually on my way out. To dinner. With a girlfriend. Thank-you very much.

Being the blonde that I am, it took until meeting up with said girlfriend at Circular Quay to catch our ferry ride to dinner for her to explain that no, I wasn’t a loser.

Rather I was just caught up in the quirky humour that is Sydney’s QT Hotel.

As she regaled me with a story of her and her friends purposely riding the lift so it could fill up and turn into music party mode, I nodded and thought … that’s SO QT.

From the beret-wearing concierge greeting you at street level through to the uber-chic reception staff, to the quirky and eclectic decor that offered an Instagram opportunity at every glance, this is as far removed from a stock-standard chain hotel as you get.

And I like that. A lot.

Just like I like to see people wear a little personality in their wardrobe, seeing a hotel wear its personality proudly … well, that makes me smile. A lot.

Summer in Sydney | QT Sydney Hotel

The reception of QT Sydney. An Instagram moment at every turn, I tell you.

The QT is Sydney’s newest hotel.

Its home is up off the street level in the historic Gowings building and Heritage-listed State Theatre in the heart of CBD retail heaven. With a nod to its historical origins, there is more than a hint of Art Deco in design, splashed beautifully with a slick and clever modernism that makes for memorable hotel moments.

I was a guest for the night, road-testing the hotel as an example of what Summer in Sydney has to offer for the ultimate summer girls’ escape.

Because Sydney is excitingly beautiful at the best of times but in Summer … well, it completely goes into show pony mode.

Summer in Sydney | QT Sydney Hotel

Decor and design with a difference. The bathroom (complete with spa) melds into the main room with style

Summer in Sydney | QT Sydney Hotel

No stock-standard hotel decor here. And that bed? Oh My.

One look out my bedroom window from THE most comfortable king-sized bed to the QVB shopping centre, confirmed that this was indeed the perfect location for such a weekend away.

Summer in Sydney | View from QT Sydney Hotel

I had arrived.

See, for me, the ultimate getaway with the girls has to start with where you collapse at the end of the night.

But then it has to offer the kind of experiences that make up the magic formula for an escape that involves plenty of fluffiness, a champagne or six, a dinner where the talk never stops, a good dose of pampering … and shopping.

There always has to be shopping 😉

3 must-dos on a Summer in Sydney girls’ escape

1. Book a spa treatment. A quality spa located within the walls of the hotel in which you are staying cannot be overlooked or ignored. To do so would be very much against the rules of An Escape With The Girls. Never underestimate the power of a good facial or massage straight up at the start of your escape. It will make your mini-break feel more like a maxi one and instantly transport you to relaxation mode. That’s exactly what my therapist at the QT Spa achieved for me … in one hour she took my gnarly, knotted shoulders and pummelled them gently but firmly into submission. Take that 2012 … be gone from my back.

Summer in Sydney | QT Sydney Spa

A session at the QT Sydney Spa really did feel like I’d had a swig of this

Summer in Sydney | QT Sydney Hotel Spa

… instead I settled for a herbal tea in the relaxation room

2. Head out to dinner somewhere swish on the water. Sydney is a foodie delight. It also shows off by even making how you get there something more than a little amazing. Which is why I found myself meeting my girlfriend at Circular Quay for a ferry ride to our waterfront dinner at Rose Bay – $7 one way and you get an evening’s view at the city’s most iconic structures AND a peak into the harbourside mansions of the rich and famous – there’s Sydney’s summer show pony advantage again. Our destination was Catalina. Being an out of towner and all, I did not realise just what a treat I was in for. My Sydney-sider girlfriend did. An extra bonus that comes from dining out on a girls’ escape is that girls find it absolutely acceptable to create a meal based around sparkling wine and four entrees … and dessert. Of. Course. Can I tell you? The food and the location were unbeatable. Expect to pay about $125 per person. Might even fly in on a seaplane next time … as you do.

Summer in Sydney | Sydney Opera House

Never get tired of this view.

Summer in Sydney | Catalina Rose Bay

… nor this. Amazing food, good company, bubbles and a water view at Catalina, Rose Bay

3. Book a shopping tour with those in the know. I am not someone who needs much encouragement to shop. No, quite the opposite. I write about shopping every day, so every time I shop, it’s research, right? Research doesn’t come any better than this – a guided shopping tour of Woollahra and Paddington. And my guide for the morning, stylist Jane Ackman, knows her stuff. Shopping this way just begs for purchases. Begs, I tell you. The location itself is magical, particularly William Street in Paddington where the boutiques are converted bottom levels of terrace houses, and it’s not unusual to find yourself being served by the designer herself. Entering the cool of each store and even being offered sparkling water while you browse … now that’s very summer in Sydney. If that doesn’t cast a spell over your credit card, nothing will.

Summer in Sydney | Guided Shopping Tour | Woollahra

The old Woollahra post office is now home to the Napoleon Perdis Life.Style store

Summer in Sydney | Guided Shopping Tour | William Street Paddington

Entering boutiques in terrace houses makes for an intimate shopping experience. Prep your credit card in advance.

Summer in Sydney | Guided Shopping Tour | Mr Rose

Of course there had to be a change room selfie … what better place than at shirting specialist, Mr Rose, Paddington.

Can you see how easily it is to fall in love with Sydney during the summer months? Uh-huh.  To book your own Summer in Sydney getaway click here.

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED and Styling You is giving you the chance to kick-start your Summer in Sydney escape with the chance to win a $250 experiences voucher. To enter, leave a comment below answering this question:

Which of the experiences above – spa, restaurant dinner or shopping tour – would you most like to do?

Entries will be judged on originality and creativity. The winner must include his or her email address when registering to comment. Failure to do so renders your entry null and void, as we have no way of contacting you to claim your prize. The winner will be notified by email and listed here. For full competition terms and conditions, visit here. The competition opens, Thursday, January 10 at 6am (AEST) and closes Thursday, January 17 at 6am (AEST).

Comments 115

  1. ‘Restaurant Dinner’ makes a rather long acrostic, so I’ll leave you with my motivating thoughts instead: Intimacy. Quality. Atmosphere. Great wine. Don’t have to make it or clean it up myself!

  2. It would have to be a shopping tour, haven’t bought myself anything new in over a year, unless you include a pair of maternity jeans, which I don’t!!! Would love to wear something new!!

  3. If I’m the lucky winner,
    I’d choose the restaurant dinner.
    Take my BFF,
    Maybe meet the chef,
    And have dessert, forget being thinner!

  4. I love the idea of relaxing in the big city so the SPA would be my first point of stay and then I would hit the shops feeling relaxed and amazing.

  5. Restaurant Dinner ~ Escaping the kids (’cause someone else can look after them)and ordering BLUEBERRY PANCAKES with ICECREAM for dinner and not having to set a good example!

  6. I couldn’t go past dinner at Catalina! Bubbles, fantastic food, Rose bay…….. and a peaceful lack of three noisy munchkins at the dinner table (god love them!) that would be my idea of living the high life!

  7. A shopping tour for this girl living in the Queensland bush.
    So far removed from shops, cities and people.
    Where online shopping’s my only escape.

  8. Dinner at somewhere like Aria – I have read many a review and would love teh opportunity to experienece this first hand, rather then voyeristically thru television shows or restauramt reviews, I understand that the views are amazing!

  9. Definately the restaurant dinner, especially with some wonderful friends! No cooking, no cleaning, no interuptions (mum, mum, mum, mum) and nothing that “has” to be done afterwards. Luxury can be very simple to achieve sometimes! And with a view like that one – heaven!

  10. All 3 starting with a shopping tour then the Spa to rellax my tired feet and then the Dinner so i can show off some of my shopping bargains.

  11. My bestie turns 40 this year and I would love to give her a lovely break away. We would love to shop ’til we dropped! Alas, we both have families and little cash to splash so we would be more than grateful for a Spa or someone else cooking US dinner and washing up!….yes, honestly I would be most excited about someone else washing up :))

  12. Not men, not even shoes – nothing brings out my femininity more than spa treatments. A massage with glorious oils somehow reaches in to my soul and resets my vibrations. Facial or pedicure, I glow after an hour in the spa.

  13. I’d love to do them all. I’ve never done either one before. I’ve never been to Sydney, so I havent experienced anything

  14. Love the “3-hour Sydney Fashion Walking Tour for 2” – my bestie tells me everything I try on looks great (unwavering support, gotta love it) but I’d also like an honest, unbiased opinion too.

  15. I would do the shopping tour. Everytime I go to Sydney I feel disappointed by the shopping – I feel that Melbourne does shopping better. The stuff that I can afford comes from the shops we have here, amd the quirky stuff that I love is unaffordable. So I want a personalised shopping tour to prove me wrong and make me fall in love with Sydney’s shops.
    Your Stay looks amazing – what a lovely hotel! Reminds me of the one I stayed at in Canberra for Human Brochure.

  16. Shopping Tour for sure!!! I don’t treat myself at all these days as I am too busy trying to save $. I’d love to have a guilt-free shopping session and share it with my mum – we’d have an absolute ball!

  17. So hard to choose but I think it has to be dinner.
    A chance to frock up, break out the heals and lippy.
    Good food, some wine, good friends, child-free conversation…hours of it.
    And definitely a sneaky cocktail (or two) and a dessert to share.

  18. Spa. I find it hard to relax when I have to fork out money to get the experience. The lastminute voucher would make me and my wallet both a lot happier. And after a year of doing cancer research in a lab, I reaallly need to pamper myself.

  19. To enjoy a meal like the one you described would be a wonderful experience. Living in the Sydney suburbs we sometimes forget how great our city is in summer. We forget to venture out of the what we know, and the kick start with a dinner at a place like Catalini’s would remind me that Sydney is for everyone!

  20. Well I love Rose Bay as it affords panoramic views of the water and marina, so for me Catalina would be a most welcome experience of both fine dining and being on the waterfront.

  21. Well this was just meant to be, really… hubby and I head over
    to Sydney from Perth at the end of this month on a ‘babymoon’ and to celebrate
    5 years of marriage. First time by ourselves in 3 years after the birth of our
    first so we REALLY need a SPA session to chillout, and work away all those day
    to day stresses of both working and looking after a hyperactive toddler, so
    that we’re in shape to bring the next one into the world… x

  22. I would love the spa/massage experience to be somewhere quiet without the yelling, bugging and talking from my 5 year old, would be bliss

  23. Waterfront dining and a lovely walk along the water after is my kind of relaxing day or night. Water makes me feel happy and relaxed.

  24. A restaurant dinner for this worn out uninspired cook. Oh what I’d give for some time out of the kitchen. With three fussy eaters my sanity’s long lost.A gorgeous meal offers fabulous appeal.

  25. Restaurant dinner are a rarity,
    with my three,
    it’s easier to take them for take out,
    as I don’t want to freak out,
    if they drop a fancy glass or spoon,
    hence, when I do head out for a fancy treat, I feel over the moon!

  26. I’ll take a champagne-heavy culinary feast over a (beautifully relaxing) facial or a pair of (perfectly tailored) pants ANY day! A wonderful meal is such a joyous experience, and a great bottle of sparkling lets the laughter flow. At any opportunity I can, I choose to make wonderful memories – with friends and food.

  27. Oh, do I have to choose?! Well, if I must, it’ll be the shopping tour… Nothing better than a day of hitting the shops with my girlfriends, trusty credit card in hand, to find some must-have ‘souvenirs’ to bring home so I can remember our fun time in Sydney whenever I wear them.

  28. I’d definitely say the SPA because taking proper care of ourselves is essential for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. The better we feel, the more we’re able to engage fully with our lives and the richer our relationships with other people become. A good pampering session can balance us from the inside out, refreshing, relaxing and rejuvenating us, making us happier and saner, all of which we’ll carry with us into our dealings with the wider world.

  29. I would love a really nice restaurant dinner, when you have little ones eating out is fast and messy so eating with grown ups for a change would be lovely

  30. oh hard decision between the spa and shopping tour. But the shopping tour would win as I have recently lost weight and this needed urgently. Your blog is helping me find my style and open my eyes to a whole new world which is acheiveable for me now. Thank you Jane

  31. Shopping is what I desire,
    For acquiring things I never tire,
    Such a thrill walking with shopping bags,
    No better thrill looking back over price tags,
    Clothes cupboard busting at the seams,
    Always room for that gem find Its what a girl dreams!

  32. Right now, this very minute it would be the spa hands down. I’m spent and empty and need some recharging me time!! Where no one cane talk to me, where I can’t hear “mummmm” in triplicate, or “viiiccckkky” in duplicate (my mum is with us at the moment. The tank is empty and needs refilling.

  33. Generally I would have said the restaurant dinner; I’m a sociable foodie and love dining with friends. But since losing over 60kgs during 2012 I guess you could say my priorities have changed a little. So whilst I still love dining out I desperately need a new wardrobe! For the first time in my life I’m enjoying buying clothes and am embracing my slimmed down figure and new lease on life. The shopping tour all the way for me! x

  34. The shopping tour sounds like a fabulous treat and is my choice. Sydney is an amazing city. Vibrant, pumping, sunny and bright but a bit grungy and gritty too – in a super-cool way. I like how focused guided tours can give you all the inside tips, and how fab would a shopping tour be?!?! I’m also a bit in love with Paddington. I was in Sydney a couple of months ago for a girls weekend with my daughter and we went to the markets – picked up some great vintage jewellery (for me), screen printed jocks for the hubby, magic tricks for the small boy, and way too many little treats for my daughter. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see more of the quirky delights Paddington has to offer!

  35. Would love a spa massage on an oak table at Catalina’s overlooking the harbour while stylist Jane Ackman catches up on all my shopping for me.

  36. of course the shopping tour!! Finding vintage items and searching for surprises is what I love doing. Shopping relaxes me and finding items you cant find anywhere else is exciting!!

  37. It’s a shopping tour I need
    Ill take an empty suitcase indeed
    To prove to sydneysiders that melbournians don’t always wear black
    Jane Ackman can guide me through my shopping attack.

  38. I have to say you’ve sold me on the swish dinner accessed by ferry… Nikki you paint such a beautiful picture: yes us girls do like a meal comprised of entrees & sparkling wine then squeeze in a latte with dessert… Plane tickets booked. Look out Sydney – 4 Sunny Coast girls heading your way soon.

  39. I have just spent two days reading all your blogs for a year ,now I can see some lovely options for this e cup size 18 babe (son will think that word really bad) and maybe I can start by finding Sydney through the eyes of a clever fashion guru.We use last minute when traveling far away have to thing weekends away much closer to home.Thank you new believer.Noelene

  40. This isn’t an entry but I just wanted to say that I’ve been curious about QT for ages. I’ve been to events there but never seen a room until now! 🙂

  41. A spa treatment would definitely be the winner… I’ve stepped on that many lego’s in my time as a mum that my feet need a good massage!

  42. I would take any of these! But top pick would be the dinner. With twin 3 year olds it is a rare event to go out for dinner and actually eat it all and enjoy it! I love food, it’s a real pleasure for me, so to try something new would be fun.

  43. S~chool-runs, housework, office is flat-chat,

    P~utting time aside for me? Intentions go splat…

    A~ wonderful SPA SESSION solves all that!

  44. Definitely restaurant dinner – the way to my heart is through food, I love trying new tastes and flavours as I am not very adventurous during family meal cooking so this is one way to pick up some great tips!

  45. So Nikki … as you guide me closer towards the end of having unlocked my style … you offer me the chance to practice too!!! How could I choose anything other than a guided shopping tour … I promise to upload a new “Me by Styling You selfie” or 3 (dozen that is!!!) 🙂

  46. Oh my Nikki – everything looks and sounds fabulous! But for me, dinner overlooking the harbour would be the ultimate experience. We’re spoilt for dining choices here in Canberra, but there’s something about that harbour view that can’t be beat whether it’s a weekend with the ladies or a romantic interlude with my man.

  47. Oh the shopping tour would do if for me! I left Sydney 18 years ago to move to the ACT with my (now ex) husband and have stayed to raise two kids and see them through their school years. Youngest goes into Year 12 this year so I have managed to live away from my beloved Sydney now for almost 20 years and I cant wait to get back there. As a single full time working Mum I have had very few trips back to Sydney and just dream about the days when I lived near Paddo, Neutral Bay and Bondi Junction and shopped in all the wonderful and special places that Sydney has to offer. So yes a shopping tour would be a dream come true and would help get me through what I hope is my final year away from the Sydney I love.
    [email protected]

  48. Shopping tour – I love Sydney and love finding new spots to discover. Not that I would say no to dinner and spa treatments.

  49. The spa because what I need most is some time on my own and there is no way the kids or the husband can interrupt my bliss if I’m wrapped up in a hot towel somewhere with my phone conveniently at home.

  50. Oh what i would give for a dinner date
    dinners with the kids in toe is a nightmare (sure u can relate!!)
    dirty looks, sticky kids and plenty of noise
    handbag full of bribes and toys;
    hubby and I need a night out at catalina, rose bay
    now I will just hope this bad poetry works, a girl can only pray.

  51. Show pony I am not
    But I like the idea of looking hot
    As the baby weigh disappears
    I find my wardrobe in arrears
    A minute here, a minute there to shop with a babe is not much chop
    I need my gal pal to help me shop
    A shopping spree, a trip away
    Last minute and styling you, start my year with a big hooray! 

  52. Does the shopping tour come with someone else’s credit card?? Ha. Any activity that has the word shopping in it gets my vote!! Shopping in Sydney would be ah-mazing (I may even take e husband and kids ;))

  53. I was so excited to read about your stay at the QT. My girlfriend and I, and our husbands have booked a weekend away (minus children) early March and we’re staying at the QT!!! We have no idea what we’re doing whilst we are down there and thought we’d just “wing” it, but the restaurant dinner would be fantastic.
    We live on the North Coast of NSW and don’t often get to the “big smoke” as my husband calls it, so to go all out with Harbour front dining would be amazing!

  54. I am going for option D. All of the above. I would start with the shopping tour in the morning, the spa in the afternoon and finish with restaurant dinner in the evening. I am girl who wants it all.

  55. Dinner, dinner dinner! A meal without the kids would be lovely, and I could actually wear something nice knowing that it wont get covered in sticky fingers and tomato sauce!

  56. Shopping tour, shopping tour! In about six months’ time when I’ve had the baby, lost the fluid and am in that awkward between-sizes-what-do-I-wear-while-the-weight’s-still-falling-off stage. Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  57. As its summer and I feel I have no clothes for work OR play I would have to go for the shopping tour, this girl is in desperate need of a makeover!

  58. Without a doubt the shopping tour! I live in country South Australia, enough said!
    Seriously though, when a shopping trip is planned, purchases are planned ahead. I’d love someone else to plan the trip so that I can enjoy the ride!

  59. For me it would be the spa day – a chance to unwind, let the stresses of last year get rubbed, manipulated and massaged away. Then I would be in the perfect frame of mind to take all of the lessons from your style boot camp on a shopping tour with my trusty credit card in hand!

  60. The dinner at Catalina, especially via the water route would be absolutely heavenly to share with my partner to celebrate our 3 year anniversary, and is particularly special this year as we’ve also just bought our first home 🙂

  61. Neck and shoulders full of knots is what I’ve got. Massage, facial, mani/pedi: book the lot! Day at a spa would be so great…maybe Husband then treat me more with a dinner date? ☺

  62. I’d love to indulge in the dinner and don’t forget wine; delicious meal and spectacular view, what more could a girl want? (Don’t forget wine!)

  63. Spa or shopping tour? Hard to pick…but I think the shopping tour just makes it over the line. Because I don’t need any excuses to shop!

  64. I pick shopping (surprise surprise) but here is why. The definition of shopping;

    1. To visit stores in search of merchandise or bargains;
    2. To look at something with the intention of acquiring it.

    So, by choosing shopping I can shop for the traditional clothes, shoes, bags, accessories etc as well as look at both the spa menu and restaurant menu and acquire things off each of them!

  65. It is a toss up between the spa and the shopping tour,but I will choose the spa I need to be pampered beacuse I am worth it and I want to feel like a princess for the day!

  66. Well let’s see, I have bags under my eyes, I’ve just picked off the last of my shellac nail polish, I can feel a pimple coming on and the tint on my eye brows has faded so now I don’t have any!! SPA day pleeeese!

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