IN WHAT WAS once known as Sydney’s Little Hollywood, Paramount House Hotel joins a buzzy cultural hub occupying the former headquarters of Paramount Pictures Australia. The hospitality-centric boutique accommodation shares the heritage-listed block with Golden Age, a cinema and bar in the former studio’s screening room; the revered Paramount Coffee Project; the rooftop Paramount Recreation Club; and the diminutive wine bar and eatery, Poly. The chummy relationship between these separate venues encourages hotel guests to catch an arthouse film, order room service from the cafe, attend an open-air fitness class, or claim one of the hotel’s standing reservations at Poly — all without leaving the building. According to the hotel’s marketing and communications manager, Aimee Bayliss, “Each business has its own following, its own operational direction, its own programming, and menus, and team behind it. It’s really lovely for guests to be able to use those different spaces as if they are part of the hotel.”
Built in 1940, the functionalist brick structure flaunts a copper chevron-patterned crown in its current iteration. The architectural feature serves as a privacy screen for the hotel’s many terraces as it displays an increasingly weathered patina. Guests enter the building via a lofty, light-filled atrium, which also houses Paramount Coffee Project. Large communal tables and towering greenery outfit the popular cafe. At the rear of the airy space, a concrete slab bearing the tagline “Permanent Vacation” forms the unassuming front desk of Paramount House Hotel. One would be forgiven for mistaking the desk for a bar. Sparkling water, sparkling tea, or beer (currently a sour beer from local brewery Wildflower) are served from a tap to arriving guests. “The idea is that you go to someone’s house and the first thing they do is offer you a drink. It immediately sets the tone of being hospitable and welcoming people,” says Bayliss. “You’ve arrived somewhere, and we’re going to take care of you.”
Above the front desk, a large painting of a mountain landscape by Max Berry is rotated seasonally to reflect the time of year, with a moodier, darker image for the colder months and a sunnier scene for spring and summer. The hotel’s entire art curation is handled by neighboring gallery China Heights, whose roster includes Berry as well as other established and emerging contemporary artists. A hotel lobby wall serves as a satellite gallery, displaying pieces from what’s currently on show at China Heights. Nearby, a vending machine nicknamed “Lobby Boy” is stocked with a wide range of the staff’s most beloved products: yuzu ginger green tea mints, perfume by Aesop, Dr. Jart+’s rubber face masks, a selection of 7-inch vinyl, and even original paintings by Sydney-based artist Marty Baptist. The employees contribute to various facets of the hotel’s operation in an egalitarian manner that adds to the notably unstuffy experience of being looked after by Paramount House. Bayliss describes it like this: “The receptionist is the concierge, is the valet, is everything. Everyone is trained to be everything. And everyone is very interested in design, in hospitality, and food and wine.”
The hotel’s 29 rooms are located on the upper levels of the building. Rooms range from a small crash pad to a luxury one-bedroom suite with a large balcony. Throughout every level of accommodation, unique heritage features like original brickwork and steel pylons are left intact as a proud display of the building’s history. But despite these coarse elements, the hotel does not skimp on modern comforts. Beds are dressed in European flax linen from Australian brand Cultiver, terrazzo-tiled bathrooms are stocked with Aesop products, and the minibar showcases locally produced wares. Instead of run-of-the-mill chip packets and Coke, Paramount House Hotel guests can help themselves to locally brewed beers by Yulli’s Brews or charcuterie by lauded LP’s Quality Meats. “Everything has a bit of an intention and a consideration, and not just because of the aesthetic,” offers Bayliss. “We really want to find who’s doing amazing things, and then work that into the environment of the room somehow.” Timber soaking bathtubs were handcrafted in northern New South Wales from native blackbutt, and Sydneysider Henry Wilson produced the bedside’s bronze vide poche — French for “empty pockets”— that beautifully corrals loose change and keys as it oxidizes with use and age. Wool blankets by Tasmanian label Seljak are ingeniously made with yarn spun in Italy out of recycled wool sweaters and garments. Many of these carefully curated items are available for purchase at the front desk for guests who wish to re-create the Paramount House Hotel experience at home.
The hotel’s tendencies toward sustainability are understated yet prevalent throughout the building. As part of the turndown service, a carafe filled with citrus-infused sparkling water is placed bedside in lieu of disposable bottled water. Natural materials like reclaimed timber and sustainably produced cotton are used throughout the property. Solar panels on the rooftop and a digester machine in the basement — converting the building’s organic waste into disposable wastewater — are all part of the unspoken carbon-neutral direction of the hotel. “The building owners’ opinion was that everyone should be doing this if they have a commercial business. It’s not something we talk about a lot, but it’s definitely there,” asserts Bayliss.
In a variety of deliberate ways, Paramount House Hotel shakes up the typically disorienting hotel experience. Sunlight and fresh air stream in from the private terraces in an effort to immediately expose guests to Sydney’s outstanding weather. Leafy houseplants bring nature into the guest rooms, while the ochre, asparagus green, and rose tones in the furnishings mimic Australia’s native flora. Spectacular Aussie produce is the star of the kiosk’s healthy offerings, set on the hotel’s rooftop recreation club. And few things feel more shamelessly Australian than a superb flat white and avocado toast (with house-dried tomatoes, alfalfa, radishes, and shallot vinaigrette, no less) delivered to your door.
Mary Pearson Andrew Writer
Mary Pearson Andrew is a writer and experimental musician. She has spent the past five years offshore on Sydney’s Pittwater. Andrew performs solo under the moniker 33, and her lyrics are featured on the latest Liars album, "The Apple Drop."
Derek Henderson Photographer
Derek Henderson works across the genres of fashion, architecture, landscape, and portraiture. Having lived and worked in London, Los Angeles, and New York, he is now a figurehead of the photography community in Australia and New Zealand. Henderson’s work has been featured in publications such as T: The New York Times Style Magazine, American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue Australia, and WSJ Magazine. His advertising clients include Aesop, Jurlique, Karen Walker, and Wrangler.