If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in Sydney and not sure what might be the best option, we wanted to share our go to Sydney hotel which is the Sydney Harbour YHA.
Now I know you’re thinking YHA is a hostel isn’t it? Technically it is, but to us Sydney Harbour YHA is more than a hostel.
You might not know that we’re currently living in Newcastle which is two hours north of Sydney. When we come down to Sydney for work or for the weekend, our go Sydney accommodation is Sydney Harbour YHA.
Even if you actually live in Sydney, read this post with the idea that this could be a great Sydney staycation option that’s located in The Rocks, somewhere you’ll see in a totally different light when you stay here.
It’s also a great option if you’re looking for Sydney accommodation for your holidays or when you first move to Australia so you can get your bearings quickly. It’s a bright, modern, Sydney luxury budget accommodation with absolutely cracking views of Sydney Harbour. With 106 rooms to accommodate 354 people, read on to see why we love staying here.
Table of Contents
Watch our stay at Sydney Harbour YHA below!
Sydney Harbour YHA is not a party hostel
We tend to try out different options when booking accommodation. Sometimes we’ll go for an airbnb, other times a hotel or a guest house and on occasion we’ll go to a hostel when we’re travelling around the world.
When we decided to try out Sydney Harbour YHA, I was slightly sceptical that it was going to be a party hostel. I’ve stayed at hostels in Sydney when I was a backpacker on my very first trip on my own back in 2006 and it was mayhem. I had the idea it was going to be similar.
In actual fact, I couldn’t be further wrong if I tried. I thought it was going to be a bit of a nightmare with loads of excited backpackers getting on it and no one wants to actually be staying in that. As we always say, party at another hostel or bar and come back to your slice of heaven.
Sydney Harbour YHA is a very quiet place to stay in Sydney
We couldn’t believe how quiet Sydney Harbour YHA is. The first time we stayed there was on a Friday night at the launch of Vivid Festival.
After we went on a tour organised by Sydney Harbour YHA around The Rocks, we were exhausted. It was around 11pm and as we went back to our room, I thought it would be like other backpacker hostels I have stayed in around Australia. When I first went backpacking in my early 20’s everyone was partying and causing havoc all night long. Turns out it was dead silent at 11pm on a Friday night at Sydney Harbour YHA.
We even had our windows open (although there is decent aircon) as it was unseasonably warm Vivid launch and we couldn’t hear a thing, and we were staying right in the middle of The Rocks with thousands of people outside walking around the festival. I couldn’t believe it!
Loads of activities at Sydney Harbour YHA
If you’re a bit miffed that Sydney Harbour YHA might be a quiet hostel and you think that means you won’t meet other travellers, you’re wrong.
There’s loads of activities on offer throughout the week from yoga classes to beer pong on the roof and walking tours, you won’t need to plan anything other than just turn up.
They also offer a travel service as well and can book tours and activities you might be interested in.
Free wifi at Sydney Harbour YHA
I can’t believe there are still hotels and hostels out there that charge for wifi. Luckily Sydney Harbour YHA doesn’t charge at all and the best news is, it’s so easy to connect to their wifi, you don’t even need a password. I know we’ve been given a small piece of paper before with a wifi password on, only to then lose it as soon as we get into the room.
Sydney Harbour YHA takes all of this unnecessary pain away that you just need to connect to their wifi and it instantly works, and it works well.
Sydney Harbour YHA has one of the best rooftops in Sydney
So we heard Sydney Harbour YHA has a good rooftop but we were gobsmacked at how big it is compared to others we could see around.
We could see The Glenmore Hotel rooftop and it looks so small and cramped that we’ll never appreciate their rooftop views again after staying at Sydney Harbour YHA.
With views looking out to Sydney Harbour Bridge and to the Sydney Opera House, it’s an incredible place to stay in Sydney with the same views as the Park Hyatt but for way, way less. Imagine having a couple of drinks up in this rooftop or sitting back and sun baking during the day? You could literally spend the entire day up on this rooftop.
Also, as we first visited during Vivid festival, just imagine what it would be like to stay here during New Years Eve? During Vivid Festival, we were lucky to have the views without the crowds.
Play spin the wheel when you check in
We LOVED playing spin the wheel when we checked into Sydney Harbour YHA. I think we were more excited to play than the backpackers standing behind us, and probably more so than anyone else who has ever stayed at this YHA!
You can win various prizes like a free breakfast, free coffee, free towels and more. We were lucky and won the free Backpacker breakfast which was worth $4.50 each and consisted of a range of cereals, toast and plenty of spreads to choose from. We liked the simplicity of the breakfast options which worked well for us.
Sydney Harbour YHA isn’t just for backpackers
So we weren’t only surprised that Sydney Harbour YHA isn’t a party hostel, we were also surprised by the different types of people staying there.
Expect families, couples, old couples, and groups of men and women down for the weekend. Our stereotyped vision was completely crushed by thinking we were going to stick out a mile around a load of 18 year olds.
Sydney Harbour YHA is actually sat on an archaeological site
When we turned up to Sydney Harbour YHA, you know I actually thought there was building work going on (what a prized idiot!!). But, I quickly realised that the Sydney hostel is actually sat on top of one of the most important archaeological sites not only in Sydney but in Australia.
I felt very ignorant, but as soon as it clicked I couldn’t believe how cool that YHA has actually designed this entire Sydney luxury budget accommodation around the site. I don’t think you’ll find many places in Australia that have done something like this.
What was one of the very first colonial buildings in Sydney and 500 metres from where the First Fleet of Europeans landed in 1788.
What was once home to over 300 hundred people, and then more recently used as a car park, YHA has transformed one of the most important sites in Australia to teach it’s visitors a major part of Australian history.
You’ll notice that the entire hostel sits around the archaeological site which boasts over million artefacts, and you’ll be able to view them from multiple points at the hostel.
Sydney Harbour YHA is in the best location in Sydney
Honestly the location doesn’t get much better than at Sydney Harbour YHA. Located in The Rocks, it’s literally over the road from being able to walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or pop down to Circular Quay where you’ll be able to walk around Sydney Opera House and also make sure you go and visit the MCA, our favourite art gallery in Sydney.
Go to Celsius Co for water views and awesome food.
You’ll also get access to all of the ferries at Circular Quay. We recommend getting a ferry over to Kirribilli Wharf and going for either brunch or lunch at Celsius Co. Get the waffles, honestly they are amazing!
Or head over to Manly on the famous ferry to get an awesome 30 minute ferry ride over to Manly, wonder down the beach and either over to Bare Naked Bowls for an acai bowl or to The Boathouse in Shelly Beach for the salmon salad or our personal best fish&chips in Sydney.
If you’re wondering where to eat in The Rocks, head over to The Tea Cosy for a British inspired kitsch Afternoon Tea in Sydney (high tea as it’s called here). Or head over to The Australian for one of their pizzas and a beer.
We also love the Lord Nelson pub in The Rocks. It’s one of the oldest pubs in Sydney and has a cracking British inspired bar.
The rooms might be basic but…
Although the rooms are more on the basic side, they offer everything you need for your stay in Sydney. If you go for the deluxe room like we did, you’ll get a TV (no cable), tea & coffee making facilities, towels, soap, a decent modern bathroom and aircon.Watching the sunrise from the window in our room!
Did we mention the views? You can score views of Sydney Opera House right from your bed! If you find another hotel in Sydney that offers up these views on this kind of budget, let us know because we think it honestly doesn’t get much better than this.
Cook your own food and hang out for the day
Eating out in Sydney can get pricey fast, I know you’ll probably already be aware it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Luckily there’s a great big kitchen you can cook all of your food in, and a Woolworth’s Metro just a 9 minute walk away to grab anything you need and even a corner shop next door from Sydney Harbour YHA to get any essentials.
The kitchen is also located right in the middle of the hostel in an open plan setting next to reception. This is a great space to meet other like minded travellers and to hang out.
There’s also a TV room up on the rooftop that’s quite small with bean bags to recover from a hangover, but also has a pool table to use as well.
Watch the sun rise over Sydney Opera House
Luckily we woke up in time for the sunrise whilst we stayed at Sydney Harbour YHA and you know what? We literally rolled out of bed, and walked about 100 metres over to the rooftop to see the sunrise rise over Sydney Opera House. It was an amazing sight to witness and something that would make me stay at Sydney Harbour YHA in a heart beat again.
How much does it cost to stay at Sydney Harbour YHA?
There are plenty of different types of accommodation at Sydney Harbour YHA so here’s what to expect with their pricing. Remember this is a luxury budget hostel so whilst other Sydney hostels might charge less, you honestly get what you pay for.
6 bed mixed dorm: Approx $52
4 bed mixed/ male / female dorm: Approx $55
Double or Twin with bathroom: Approx $149
Premium Double Room with bathroom: Approx $165 a night (we stayed in this one)
If you’re looking to get an Uber from Sydney Airport to Sydney Harbour YHA, it cost us $57 during morning rush hour (around 8am).
So, if you were thinking the same as us originally that Sydney Harbour YHA is only a place you should stay at if you’re a backpacker, you’re wrong. Hopefully we’ve convinced you that Sydney Harbour YHA is an awesome cheap Sydney accommodation option because so far we’ve been really impressed!
Thanks to Sydney Harbour YHA for hosting us on our stay. As always, this is an honest post about why YHA is always our go to budget option when travelling around Sydney and Australia. We’d stay here regardless of YHA hosting us.
Don’t forget to watch our video below!
Read More YHA Australia Reviews
We tend to stay in YHA’s in Australia and have reviewed some of them for you to know what they are like before booking.