Landmark revived

A historic Sydney landmark will reawaken as Capella Sydney for five-star accommodation in the heart of the city.

Photography by Timothy Kaye

16 November 2022


Embedding visitors in the beating heart of the city’s commercial, cultural and hospitality precinct, Capella Sydney marks the first property under the Capella Hotels and Resorts constellation to open in Australia.

For generations, the Department of Education building in Sydney’s Sandstone Precinct has stood quietly, its golden facade forming an unassuming backdrop to the rhythm of the city.

Reawakening as Capella Sydney in March 2023, the heritage-listed icon will welcome guests inside its walls for the very first time, setting a global benchmark for luxury accommodation, cuisine and cultural immersion.

Balancing storied architectural features with a contemporary design aesthetic, Capella Sydney celebrates the Australian panorama through its interiors, location and experiences.

Spanning eight levels, the 192 guestrooms and suites are anchored by three ground-level food and beverage outlets, with spaces throughout the hotel unfurling to reveal commissioned and collected artworks, sophisticated furnishings and intriguing objet d’art – all within footsteps of the glistening harbour foreshore, the famed Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.


Occupying an entire city block, encircled by Loftus, Bridge and Young Streets, the building was originally designed by architect George McRae in the Edwardian Baroque style. It first opened for government use in 1915.

More than 100 years later, the meticulous restoration and transformation of the site by Pontiac Land, reimagined by Make Architects, sees the building ready to write a new chapter in its history. The original characteristics are celebrated throughout the hotel, from the majestic marble-clad foyer to the bespoke function rooms and upper-level wellness spaces.

“Capella Sydney is not just an ode to the city and Sydneysiders, it’s an open invitation for discerning travellers from all around the world to visit Australia and experience the magic of this place we call home,” said Marc von Arnim, Capella Sydney’s General Manager.

“The Capella brand is synonymous with luxury, excellence in the craft of hospitality and cultural immersion.

“Capella Sydney takes this to the next level through unparalleled heritage work, architecture and interior design, state-of-the-art wellness facilities and transformative guest experiences that go above and beyond the expected, underscored by world-class accommodation and dining.”

The first space to emerge from the reimagined Farrer Place foyer, Aperture is memorable for its confluence of international art, inimitable hospitality and abundance of nature – its 7-metre-tall green wall featuring nearly 70 local species of flora.

Sitting beneath the bespoke kinetic sculpture Meadow by Amsterdam-based Studio Drift, an expansive glass ceiling and the verdant canopy offered by two weeping figs, guests are invited to experience the signature food and beverage for which Capella is renowned. Aperture also marks the core of the hotel, occupying the open-air void of the original building – a light-filled space where the magnitude of the storied site and its transformation is on display.

Anchored to the Young Street shoulder of the hotel, Brasserie 1930 delivers an elevated dining experience. Exuding grandeur and sophistication, underscored by its landmark architecture, the ground-floor restaurant features a menu of modern brasserie classics and an extensive wine list, served in a casual yet dynamic inner-city atmosphere.

Highlighting small-batch farmers and growers, the menu celebrates the best in Australian produce, with cooking methods drawing upon age-old techniques such as curing, smoking, fermenting, preserving and pickling.

Named in honour of George McRae, the building’s original architect, McRae Bar, overlooking Loftus Street, redefines the classic hotel lounge by immersing visitors in the glamour of times gone by.

A modern rendition of a Victorian-era drinking den, the intimate ground-floor bar offers an elegant cocktail experience with late 1800s touches, celebrating the first golden age of fine drinking through a contemporary Australian lens. The ground floor also plays host to six meeting and event spaces catering for groups of 10 to 80 people.

The bespoke rooms highlight the heritage embellishments and a contemporary interior design ethos, each space features high ceilings, an abundance of natural light and the latest in high-tech conferencing equipment.

All meeting and event spaces are serviced by the inimitable Capella Sydney team providing exceptional, personalised service. Intimate celebrations can be arranged upon request, including private dining and late-evening drinks.

The unsurpassed accommodation at Capella Sydney is as unique as the property itself. Dovetailed with the intricate craftsmanship of the original building, the beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites cushion guests from the bustle of the city.

Light-filled and spacious averaging over 55 square metres, guestrooms and suites exude luxury, showcasing delectable walnuts, natural stones and deluxe textiles alongside standalone tubs, custom Italian Frette linen and Haeckels amenities.

At 235 square metres, the largest offering within the portfolio is the signature Capella Suite. Located on the ninth floor, its layered interiors celebrate a landmark building steeped in history, where the exquisite design allows guests to relax while embracing every indulgent detail.

In-house guests of Capella Sydney unlock the opportunity to experience the Living Room – a signature space in all Capella properties that places guests on the pulse of local cultural connection.

Surrounded by art, intriguing artefacts uncovered during the restoration and a curated collection of tantalising tomes, the Living Room is the place of daily Capella Rituals. It’s also where guests are introduced to Capella Culturists.

Part neighbourhood expert, part intuitive mind-reader, Capella Culturists are on-hand to shape the travel story of all guests, whether it be through foraging for endemic foods with First Australians, organising tickets to sporting and theatre events or onboarding guests to a luxury liner for an unforgettable harbour cruise.

Perhaps the most grandiose transformation of all the unrivalled spaces within Capella Sydney is the world-class wellness offering on level six. A remnant of the building’s former life, including as the Department of Education’s informal art gallery, a series of overhead copper-lined heritage lanterns illuminate the wellness space with natural light.

These lanterns are particularly magnificent in the pool area, where their glass-pane inserts frame snippets of the surrounding cityscape amid lavish natural stone and early 19th-century appointments.

Centred around the 20-metre heated indoor swimming pool, facilities exclusive to in-house guests include a high-tech fitness centre featuring Technogym equipment, yoga platform, well-appointed change rooms complete with steam, sauna and experiential showers and Auriga Spa showcasing immersive treatment rooms for couples and individuals within luxurious surrounds.

Capella Sydney will open for online reservations from mid-December 2022.



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