Kid-friendly hotels, camping with the animals, and glamping in the middle of Sydney Harbour? Yes it’s all happening Down Under in Sydney, our favourite city to spend winter in June with the family!

Did you know that you can enjoy a fabulously kid-friendly winter in June if you head Down Under to Sydney? With so many family-friendly events here during the mid-year, Sydney is one of the best places to escape Singapore’s sweltering heat while enjoying cool (literally!) new experiences. And if the kids are hankering for snow, there’s no need to wait till December. They can enjoy it next month in Hunter Valley with Snow Time in the Garden. Yes, you read that right.


Image: Vivid Sydney 2016 – The Rocks – The Matter of Painting, courtesy Destination NSW

First up: Vivid Sydney. We’re big fans of this music and light festival which turns icons like the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge into spectacular canvasses of colour. It’s surreal, eye-popping, mind-bending… an incredible experience that’s definitely worth keeping the little ones up for. And oh yes, highly, highly, Insta-worthy too.

Whale watching at Jervis Bay, Huskisson, South Coast by L McGillivray, courtesy Destination NSW

Next, take the kids for an adventure on the NSW Winter Whale Trail. Cruise along the Pacific Coast’s Legendary Whale Watching Trail and look out for Humpbacks, Minke whales, Southern Right whales, Sei and Brydes whales, and lots of other marine life. It’s an awesome experience that should not be missed! For convenience with kids, book a tour with whale-watching operators like Tamboi Queen, Imagine, and Moonshadow in Port Stephens.

So yes, there’s lots to explore and enjoy in Sydney in June (see the list the end of this article)! But most importantly, where to stay? One of these kid-friendly hotels and accommodation experiences should fit the bill.

Swissotel Sydney

This five-star hotel is known for its Swissotel Kids’ Room for children aged 2 to 12 years old, and for good reason too! With this package, parents get one King Room while kids get a kids’ paradise set up in a Twin Room with DVD programmes, children’s bed linen, child-sized desk and games, junior amenities, children’s toys, and buffet breakfasts at JPB Restaurant! What’s really useful for parents with young ones is Early Bird Dining at JPB from 5.30-7.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays) – perfect for kids who have dinner early. A kids’ activity sheet/menu and pencils are provided to keep little ones occupied.

There’s need to worry if it’s your first time to Sydney. An underground walkway connects the hotel to Sydney’s Town Hall station, buses are just minutes away, and taxis are at your doorstep. Shopping centres such as the Queen Victoria Building and Westfield Sydney are nearby, and landmarks and attractions like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and the Botanic Gardens within walking distance. There’s complimentary internet access for guests too.

68 Market Street, Sydney 2000 NSW, Australia | http://www.swissotel.com/hotels/sydney/

Mercure Sydney

Just across the street from Central Station and within walking distance of attractions like the Opera House, Darling Harbour, Chinatown, and the Botanical Gardens, this is a wonderfully affordable option for families. Accommodation and breakfast are free for 2 children under 16 years sharing their parents’ room. The Family Rooms with two double beds sleep four comfortably. We upgraded to a Deluxe Privilege Room (several years ago) which also had a living area, a walk-in closet/luggage area, a large bathroom. You can also enjoy the Family Fun Offer which includes a Family Pass (for 2 adults and 2 children) to two Sydney attractions, plus breakfast and a late checkout at 1pm.

818 – 820 George Street, Ultimo, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia | www.mercuresydney.com.au

Holiday Inn Old Sydney

Nestled in the heart of The Rocks, Holiday Inn Old Sydney is an ideal base for families. It’s just a street away from Circular Quay where you can catch a ferry to the Taronga Zoo or to one of Sydney’s famous beaches, Manly. From this heritage-listed hotel, you’ll also be able to walk (but put little ones in a stroller) to Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, or the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The hotel’s rooftop pool offers one of the best rooftop views in Sydney – overlooking the harbour, with clear views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, perfect for family photos! Best of all, under the Holiday Inn signature Kids Eat and Stay Free® programme, kids 12 years and under eat free (breakfast, lunch and dinner) when they dine at the hotel’s dining outlets with an adult, and stay for free when sharing their parents’ room with existing bedding.

55 George St, The Rocks 2000 NSW | http://www.hioldsydney.com

(See also: The Most Kid-Friendly Hotels in Bangkok)

Cockatoo Island Glamping

Sydney’s only central camping ground is just 15 minutes by ferry from the city! Previously a penal colony, it is now an adventure playground for kids and adults. Enjoy a barbecue as the sun sets over the water. Sleep under the shadows of dormant cranes and chimneys. Watch the sunrise over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Kids can explore a real convict prison and shipbuilding machines with self-guided activity books and maps. And tennis-loving families can play on the Cockatoo Island grass court, which has the best views from a tennis court in Sydney! Apart from its rich history and fabulous views, this UNESCO-heritage-listed island also offers glamping packages for families!

The Two-Bedroom Glamping package includes two pre-erected tents with a covered communal area in the middle, and four single raised camp beds with all linen, quilts and towels, table and chairs, lanterns, a cool box, and toiletries. Prefer not to camp? Stay in one of the beautifully restored heritage buildings: Harbour View apartments or Garden Riverview apartments.

www.cockatooisland.gov.au/stay

Four Seasons Sydney

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney overlooks Sydney Harbour in the historic Rocks district, home to weekly markets, cafes, and free museums. Popular rooms for families include the Premier Full Harbour Room, and the Full Harbour Junior Suite with a breathtaking view of Sydney Harbour. All Four Seasons properties know how to pamper families, that’s why we love them! Let the hotel know your children’s names and ages so that the hotel can prepare welcome amenities like milk and cookies for them. You can order snacks for the kids during transit, ready to arrive in their room upon check in. The team can also organise child-sized bathrobes so kids feel right at home in their five-star accommodation!

Stays with babies under two years are made stress-free as well. You can request for items to child-proof your guest room, a cot or rollaway bed, changing mats or tables, bottles and bottle warmers. There’s even a dedicated children’s room service menu offering healthy meals such as veggie sticks with hummus. The chefs can also prepare fresh pureed vegetables and fruits for infants. Need some couple time? Give the hotel at least six hours notice and they’ll arrange reliable babysitting services (with an hourly charge) for your little ones. What else could a family need? Free wi-fi? Done!

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, 199 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.fourseasons.com/sydney/

Taronga Zoo Roar and Snore

Image: Lorinda Taylor

Treat the kids to a night in the jungle with Taronga’s Zoo’s Roar and Snore experience. Sleep in a safari tent, tour the zoo, and enjoy encounters with Australia’s famous wildlife: from kangaroos and koalas to emus and possums. At night, go to sleep while watching the city’s sparkling lights and the boats criss-crossing the Harbour. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that the kids will never forget. They may even come face-to-face with a kookaburra, a possum, or other free-ranging wildlife living just outside their tent!

The Roar and Snore experience also includes a ride on the Zoo’s spectacular Sky Safari Cable Car, dinner, breakfast, and snacks, tours, and two behind-the-scenes exclusive experiences. There’s no need to leave immediately after the camp either. You can continue spend the next day exploring the Zoo during the daylight hours, all the way till it closes.

Image: Lorinda Taylor

Please note that children must be a minimum five years old to attend Roar and Snore. Tents are powered and come with a double bed and a single pop-up trundle bed. There is room for an additional single bed. Maximum capacity is four people per tent (minimum 1 adult per tent). All linen is provided. There is an on-site ablutions block housing bathrooms with showers and additional toilets, and disabled access facilities are available. Roar and Snore takes place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, and every night during NSW school holidays. Do book early as Roar and Snore is very popular!

Bradley’s Head Road, Mosman, NSW 2088, Australia | https://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo/accommodation/roar-snore-bookings

Meriton Campbell Street Serviced Apartments Sydney CBD

Meriton Campbell Street was ranked number one by Tripadvisor in 2013, and remains in the top 10 of hotels in Sydney on the website still. We stayed here a few years ago and loved it! It’s near the CBD and Chinatown (with restaurants like Chat Thai and a Din Tai Fung within walking distance), and has easy access to public transport. With 247 spacious suites over 39 floors, it’s excellent value for families who prefer a home-like environment.

For small families, an oversized Classic Studios with king-sized bedding, a kitchenette, and laundry facilities is perfect. Those with bigger kids will prefer Modern Suites which feature additional open plan living spaces, or higher floor Fortune Suites. Amenities include a flat-screen TV with sports, news, and documentary channels, free wi-fi, a spa, gym, and a 20m heated indoor pool. There’s daily housekeeping so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up either!

Campbell Street, (Corner of George Street), Haymarket, NSW 2000, AUSTRALIA | www.meritonapartments.com.au/sydney/campbell-street

Holiday Inn Darling Harbour

Holiday Inn Darling Harbour is close to the city as well as several of Sydney’s best family attractions, including two fantastically kid-friendly museums: The PowerHouse Museum, and the National Maritime Museum. Dining options abound at Cockle Bay Wharf & Harbourside close to the hotel, and shopping areas – Pitt Street Mall and the Outlet Stores at Market City — are just a short stroll away. There’s also Tumberlong Park where kids can frolic in play areas and enjoy activities such as paddleboats and rides.

Save by getting a multi-attractions pass. This includes entry to SeaLife Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds Sydney, Sydney Tower Eye, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, and the Illawarra Fly Treetop Adventures. Finally, like all Holiday Inn hotels, this property offers the Kids Eat and Stay Free® programme. With this, children 12 years and under eat free when they dine at the hotel’s dining outlets with an adult, and stay for free when sharing their parents’ room with existing bedding. Perfect.

68 Harbour St, Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia | www.hidarlingharbour.com

What’s On in Sydney in June 2017:

Vivid Sydney 26 May – 17 June
Snow Time in the Garden Pokolbin 24 June – 16 July
Whale Watching May – November
Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival 1 May – 30 June
Sydney Film Festival 7-18 June
Peak Music Festival 9-12 June
Shoalhaven Coast Winter Wine Festival 10-12 June

(See also: The Most Kid-Friendly Hotels in Perth)

Header image: Songlines render impression by Artists in Motion inspired by Artist Karla Dickens, courtesy of Destination NSW

Feature image: Courtesy of Swissotel Sydney