Pensione Boutique Hotel
This charming, budget-friendly little hotel is one of the best values in Sydney. Yes, it’s set on one of the busiest streets in the bustling Chinatown section of the CBD (i.e., nowhere near the water), but the 68 rooms are smart and stylish, with mosaic-tiled bathrooms, data ports, and extras like hair dryers and mini-fridges not usually found in budget-friendly digs. The color schemes are nicely neutral, but the wonderful old-fashioned arched windows in some of the rooms add a bit of drama. The communal guest lounge has Internet kiosks, Wi-Fi, and a kitchenette if you feel like making a meal in. The entire hotel will be getting a freshening-up in late 2008.
Tip: Head downstairs for an early drink at Charlie Chan’s bar; until 6 p.m. you can get a “schooner” of beer (that’s about 14 ounces, mate) for $3.
Room to Book: If traffic noise bothers you, ask for a room that faces away from busy George Street.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.