InterContinental Sydney, Sydney $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
You can literally step—and sleep—inside a piece of Australia's past here: Part of the hotel is a historic building site. Three stories of dramatic sandstone arches, all that remains of the 1851 Treasury Building, have been beautifully incorporated into the architecture. The arches surround the interior lobby lounge and café—known as the Cortile—which has recently emerged from a major facelift looking more genteel than ever. The rest of the property, while modern and luxurious, is relatively ordinary in comparison: A major renovation in 2004 updated the 509 rooms in cream and brown fabrics and innocuous contemporary furniture; some have flat-screen TVs and marble bathrooms with spa tubs (and Bulgari toiletries). The best units are those on the rooftop club level with views over the harbor and Royal Botanic Gardens, and an outdoor deck for lingering over breakfast. Staff members have eschewed the polite but distant five-star model for an ebullient friendliness that might take seasoned travelers off-guard.