The Jewel in YHA Australia’s crown – Sydney Harbour YHA review


Peter Parkorr aka

The YHA’s Sydney Harbour hostel must be the jewel in it’s crown – with a prime location in the historic centre of Sydney, you really feel the buzz of “the harbour city” with its most iconic sights laid out in front of you.

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The developed waterfront of The Rocks and Circular Quay

The location

Sitting right on The Rocks, you really know you’re in Sydney when you stay at the brand new Sydney Harbour YHA. With pretty squares and waterside walks nearby, the views from this hostel make it worth every penny. It’s closer to Sydney Harbour Bridge than the biggest hotels (like the Four Seasons for example), with easy transport links from Circular Quay to popular places on both sides of the water, by bus or by ferry. A few hundred metres down the road and you can be walking over the famous bridge yourself.

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An evening shot of the Sydney Opera House taken from the hostel terrace

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The big name hotels queue up behind the YHA’s prime location

Rooms and bathrooms

Zing! This whole hostel is less than two years old so everything is in tip-top condition. Private double rooms have tea/coffee making facilities, and a speaker dock that allows you to relax with tunes from the radio or your own device. The bathrooms are very nicely fitted with towels and toiletries provided.

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Comfy beds, nice linen and good sized rooms

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Hotel quality en suite bathrooms

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Extras like a speaker dock and tea/coffee in private rooms make the Sydney harbour YHA more like a hotel than a hostel


A main attraction here is the big rooftop terrace, where you can enjoy sunbathing (or a sun-downer) with great views of both Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are TV rooms and other common spaces as you’d expect, but the lower level of the hostel is a revealing show of the local history and archeology. Various artifacts from the first immigrant dwellers on this part of The Rock are on display, along with what is known about them and their lives. The building itself is suspended above the site, which is part of the Big Dig project. Inside the hostel is very clean and welcoming, with nice light living spaces, well equipped kitchen facilities and decent coffees from the staff behind the counter. The breakfasts are good value too, including a cook-your-own option with eggs and bacon.

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Get your slice of Sydney’s history on the ground floor

What makes this a great hostel

The location here is not lost on anyone, with locals still wondering how the YHA managed to get hold of such a prime spot. The YHA’s staff are great and full of information which is always a pleasure for new visitors. The hostel have clearly invested in quality facilities and furnishings too, which adds to the feeling of staying somewhere a bit special.

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The reception and common area with kitchens at the rear.

Top tip

Have a wander around The Rock not far from the hostel and keep your eye out for interesting tidbits of Sydney’s history detailed in statues and plaques. Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge gives you nice views over the water and the city, and you can relax with a coffee on the other side in Kirribilli. But for a really stunning view, walk around the Botanical Gardens to a spot known as Mrs Macquaries chair – here you can see the Opera House framed by the Harbour Bridge, and the sun setting behind them both.

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Stories of the first settlers from the West are told all around The Rocks

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The hostel sits above the Big Dig archaeological project

The Journey

Arriving by coach or into the train station, catch one of the frequent buses heading into the city along George Street, the hostel is a short walk uphill from the closest stop. Arriving from elsewhere, the hostel is a 10 minute walk from Circular Quay. It’s hard to miss because of the location. If you end up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you’ve gone too far.

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The hostel and other building fronts in the area show where the buildings they replace once stood

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Right in the heart of things


Well worth staying for a night even if you are on a tight budget, and great for exploring the harbours and North shores.

Fact box

4 to 6 person shared rooms are around £30 – £32 per person per night, available as mixed or single sex dorms. The Deluxe Double Bed Privates are around £47-55 per person per night, which offers great value. Make sure to check the YHA’s ‘Specials’ tab for discounts and offers.

110 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney 2000, New South Wales


  • Coral says:

    We stayed here and we loved it. The best hostel we stayed at in Australia. Paying for wifi was the only disadvantage.

    • Peter Parkorr says:

      This is true and I should have mentioned it Coral! I recommend joining the YHA for a year if you are going to use their hostels, as you get money off room rates and it gives you free wifi whenever you stay with them anywhere in the world. The price varies depending which country you join from but it is AU$32-$42 for a year buying in Oz and can be a lot cheaper in other countries. With room discounts and free wifi it pays for itself within a few nights.

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