Holidaying in the city with kids

When you live around Byron Bay, it is tempting to never ever go on holidays. We live the holiday – why go anywhere? If we need an injection of holiday, we just head down to Byron, and walk up to the lighthouse. Surrounded by foreign tourists, it feels like a vacation.

But the Cambridge Hotel in Surry Hills Sydney recently offered my family a weekend stay. As we have been looking for an excuse to return to Sydney – a place which holds many romantic, nostalgic feelings for us – we pried ourselves from the Sunshine House and hit the big smoke.

Cambridge Hotel

The Cambridge Hotel is unusually situated. Heading down nearby Oxford Street, you are surrounded by bars, clubs and drag costume shops. But heading south down Riley Street, or towards Crown Street, you pass beautiful old houses and a surprising number of trendy cafes.

Surry Hills


Surry Hills House

We discovered a beautiful Italian delicatessen/cafe down the road on Riley Street called Pasta Emilia. It was the sort of place my mum would love, with rows of preserves, a piano tucked into the corner and a selection of home-made fresh pasta in the fridge.

Pasta Emilia

We had an amazing breakfast and coffee at Pieno cafe, close to the Cambridge Hotel, on Crown Street. Further down Crown Street is Gelato Messina, which is reported to be the best gelato in Sydney. I don’t know other gelato bars in Sydney but it was by far and away the best gelato I have ever had. Poached fig, panna cotta & amaranth love. My god.

Gelato Messina

gelato messina

I loved being able to walk from the hotel down Oxford Street, Paddington. I have so many childhood memories of shopping in Paddington with mum when we visited the city. Nothing seems to have changed. I love the glamour, and the interesting, design-ey stores. We spent ages in the kid’s section of the Ariel Booksellers in Paddington.

We took advantage of being located so close to the city, and walked the girls down through the botanical gardens to the Opera House, and into The Rocks. It was a fair hike, but completely do-able.

On our return journey from The Rocks, we looked for somewhere good to take the kids in Darlinghurst. We stumbled on Bill & Toni’s Restaurant – a humble Italian joint, with red and white checked plastic table cloths, and a simple menu. It looked perfect – and it was. Dinner was served within minutes, and was so much Italian yumminess. My urge for something ‘authentic’ and interesting was satisfied, as was my practical mum-self.

Bill & Toni's Restaurant

The Cambridge Hotel itself is pretty snazzy. The foyer is decked out in bright orange, pink and black, with rows of neon lights on the stairs. Our room was comfortable, and had everything we needed. It had the best bed (although Husband spent both nights on a mattress on the floor to accommodate the sprawling ways of our daughter). The staff were friendly and accommodating. My only gripe was no free WiFi, which is kind of limiting for a blogger. But, according to Twitter this morning, the hotel has just introduced free WiFi – good news for blogging and other Internet using guests.

cambridge hotel room


It was perfect being so central, and in such a trendy area. For us little ol’ country pumpkins, being surrounded by good cafes, shops and museums is a wee bit exciting. I’d go again. But for now, I will enjoy being back in our little ol’ country pumpkin routine. Travelling with kids in the city is completely possible, but it’s nice to be back in the Sunshine House.

Disclaimer: This post was written in collaboration with the Cambridge Hotel, 212 Riley Street, Surry Hills, although views expressed are entirely my own. Thank you to the Cambridge Hotel for putting us up for the weekend, and giving us the chance to feel cosmopolitan again. And apologies for the crumbs left on the carpet and the high-pitched squeals from my girls.

What are your hot tips for holidaying in another city with kids?

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  • Seana Smith

    Lovely post about our gorgeous city!!