THE BASICS The “art hotel” concept has arrived in Australia. The Melbourne-based A Hotels Group, run by an avid art collector, is planning seven art-themed hotels across Australia by 2010. The first, the Storrier, opened in Sydney last December and is named after the neo-Surrealist Australian artist Tim Storrier. Housed in a brick Art Deco building, the hotel feels like a mini-museum devoted to the living artist: Mr. Storrier’s monumental painting, “Point to Point (Evening Blaze)” dominates the lobby; photographs of him in his studio line the caramel-colored hallways; and framed prints hang in the 70 guest rooms.
THE LOCATION On a quiet side street near the fast-gentrifying Potts Point neighborhood and the slightly seedy Kings Cross. The Art Gallery of New South Wales, one of Australia’s leading museums, is a 10-minute walk away, as are a cluster of appealing sidewalk cafes and shops.
THE ROOM The room I booked, a so-called superior studio, was cramped — about 200 square feet — with barely enough room to lay open a suitcase. Luckily, occupancy was low (it was Easter Sunday), and with just a little prodding, the front desk offered a free upgrade to the far more spacious executive suite. Both rooms were furnished with a minimalist, vaguely 1980s-style décor: chrome and glass table, mirrored wall, built-in white cabinets and black-and-white-striped lampshades and chairs. There were also some unexpected perks, including a well-equipped kitchenette (there’s even a whisk and cheese grater), a minibar stocked with Australian beer and wine; and a pair of flip-flops and postcards emblazoned with Mr. Storrier’s lobby painting.
THE BATHROOM The larger suite had the same pod-like bathroom as the smaller room. Roughly 3 by 9 feet, it had a smart, functional design: a frosted-glass wall brought in light, the shower was in a curtained-off corner, and there were ample hooks and shelves. A big medicine cabinet was stocked with Molton Brown amenities. Still, it is nearly impossible to wash your face in the narrow sink without drenching yourself.
AMENITIES There is a lovely rooftop terrace and bar with palm trees, cafe tables, canvas umbrellas and gorgeous sunset views of the skyline and a sliver of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The intimate 40-seat Red Belly Restaurant & Bar offers Asian fusion fare like five-spice duck ravioli with shaved pecorino and an herb salad (29 Australian dollars, or about $27 at 1.09 Australian dollars to the American dollar). There is WiFi throughout the hotel (for 10 Australian dollars an hour or 29.95 Australian dollars for the day). The hotel also offers complimentary access to a nearby fitness center.
ROOM SERVICE My breakfast — scrambled eggs on corn-and-leek fritters, smoked bacon with tomato relish and sliced chorizo — was speedily delivered, artfully presented and incredibly delicious. Along with a flat white (similar to a cappuccino, but without the foam), it cost 16 Australian dollars.
BOTTOM LINE The hotel’s intimate scale, peaceful roof terrace and tucked-away site make it an appealing hideaway off the Sydney tourist track. Rooms start at 185 Australian dollars (about $170 U.S.) for a tight superior studio; deluxe studios, with an extra 100 square feet, start at 230 Australian dollars. The Storrier, 15 Springfield Avenue, Potts Point, Sydney; (61-2) 8988-6999; www.thestorrier.com.