Review – Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel & SYD Plane Spotting

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As huge aviation geeks who love to spend all their time at airports, we decided to stay a night at the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel, the night before we were to depart Sydney. This airport is known for being a plane spotter-friendly hotel, and has a great location right across from the International Terminal. Some of the rooms have a direct view of the airport gates and the runway.

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Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel

When we booked, the hotel was even offering a Plane Spotter’s Package, which featured a Deluxe Airport View King Room with a guaranteed panoramic airport view, a pair of plane spotter binoculars, a $50 food and beverage credit, 1pm late checkout, as well as a map of the best plane spotting locations around the airport! Of course we selected this package! The views from the room alone were worth it. Admittedly, it was a bit expensive, as we paid 283 AUD (~276 CAD) for the one night stay.

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Plane spotter’s map and binoculars

At the time of this writing, I’m not sure if they are still offering this, as the plane spotter package link on their website is no longer working.

Hotel

On the day of check-in, we took the train into the airport, and disembarked at the International Airport Station. From there, it was a couple of escalators up into the airport terminal, and a short walk across the drop off area to the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel.

The main lobby area of the hotel was spacious and airy, featuring tall ceilings and artwork decorating the walls. Beside the check-in area was a small open gift shop. The waiting area featured several sofas and armchairs. Further into the lobby was the Touchdown sports bar, while located up on the Mezzanine was another restaurant called Blackwattle Grill. There is also a bar and lounge on the top floor which has a small outdoor patio, but it was usually quite crowded up there.

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Rydges Sydney Airport hotel lobby
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Rydges Sydney Airport hotel reception
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“Touchdown” sports bar
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Blackwattle Grill restaurant
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Looking down at the lobby from mezzanine level

We got checked in and received room 823.

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Hallway
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Room 823

The first thing I did as I walked in was to admire at this view:

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Amazing view of SYD!
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Panoramic views of SYD

From the large window in the room, you could see the entire runway 16L/34R, plenty of taxiways and numerous gates. Several times there was an A380 parked right in front of our window.

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Qantas A380 pushing back right in front of our hotel window

Back to the actual room review… the room itself is actually very nice! As you walk in, the sink and bathroom are located on the left, with separate walk-in shower and toilet rooms. I personally love this setup, as one can hog the shower without preventing anyone from using the bathroom. The walk-in shower is fully tiled and extremely spacious. The hotel provides Sanctum shower amenities, which smelled nice.

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Deluxe Airport View King Room
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Sink amenity separate from toilet and shower
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Sanctum shower amenities
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Large standalone toilet
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Walk-in shower room

A modestly sized wardrobe and safe were available to the right.

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Wardrobe with safe

The rest of the room was pretty basic with a large king bed, a desk with several power outlets, a lounge chair in the corner as well as a snack bar and fridge. Facing the bed was a good-sized wall-mounted TV. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the room, which was quite modern and comfortable. Anyways, the most important part of the room was the view outside! 😉

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Decorative bed pillows
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Bed side table
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Wall mounted TV
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A simple desk with great views
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Charging outlets
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Lounge chair
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Snack bar
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Drink fridge

We spent a good amount of time just hanging out in the hotel room and plane spotting. You can check out examples of some of the shots you can get below.

Example shots from the hotel room:
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Gathering of qantas. How many roos can you count? 😉
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Qantas A380 rocketing out of SYD
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Qantas A380 taxiing in under a pastel sky
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Qantas A330 “Rainbow Roo” livery soaring into the skies
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American 77W pushing back

Other facilities at the hotel include a gymnasium and coin washers.

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Coin washer and dryers
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24 Hour Gym

Planespotting

Besides plane spotting at the hotel, we also went to check out several locations around the airport. Here’s a list of the places we visited, including some information on getting there, and some photo examples from each location.

Shep’s Mound

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Shep’s Mound observation deck
Location:

There isn’t a real address on Google Maps for this spot, but the closest address I found which is right across the street is: 50 Ross Smith Avenue, Mascot NSW 2020, Australia.

Tips:

If your experience is anything like ours, you will find that the majority of taxis don’t know where “Shep’s Mound” is. On both occasions, I had to literally guide the driver using my phone’s GPS to the location. I’d recommend hiring an Uber instead, as you can set the destination for them so they will know exactly where to drop you off.  Of course, if you have a rental car, it’s pretty easy to get here. The drive itself is just 10 minutes from the hotel, depending on traffic coming out of the airport.

Description:

Shep’s Mound is located right beside the Sydney control tower, and is an amazing spot featuring free parking and an elevated, paved observation area, complete with benches and sun shelter. From here you can see planes taxiing by right up along the fence on taxiway Charlie, as well as arriving / departing traffic on 16R/34L. You can also get airborne shots as planes takeoff from 34R. Most of the angles are somewhat side-on, but you won’t miss any action here as you have an overview of a large part of the terminal and active runways / taxiways. The best lighting occurs around the early mornings until afternoon, when the sun is behind you. If you need to grab food, there’s a McDonalds about 5-10 minutes walk away.

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Sydney Tower beside Shep’s Mound. Look closely to see the McDonald’s in the background 😉
Example shots:
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Air Asia a330 stretching her wings
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UPS MD11F arriving in the early morning
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Thai Queen of the Skies glowing in the morning sun
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Qantas Freight 767 just leaving the ground
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Qantas 737 departure from 34R
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Jetstar’s Scrabble Jet taxiing for departure
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China Southern A330 rotating off 34L

The Beach

Location:

For this location, you will have trouble getting a real address to this place. The entrance to the unnamed road is on Kyeemagh Avenue, Mascot NSW 2020, but if you have a working navigation on your phone, you can just enter these GPS coordinates:
33°56’50.0″S 151°10’13.2″E

Getting there:

Again, as for the Shep’s Mound location, there is a high chance a taxi driver will not know this location. I would recommend hiring an Uber so that you can set a pin on the exact location you want them to drop you off at.

WARNING: We almost got stuck at this location because the Uber app would not let us set a pick up at this location; it would default to the airport terminal. The workaround was to walk across the bridge on General Holmes Dr, and you will be able to set a pick up point there. Again, just like with the other location, if you have your own rental car, it makes things way easier here.

Description:

This spot is one of the best locations I’ve ever been to in terms of planespotting. You get an amazing view of planes on final for 34L, and much of the landing sequence. This spot has a beach where you can walk along right up to the fence of the airport, where you can see the heavies taxiing right by on Alpha, before a 34L departure. I personally stayed along the car park stone wall to be able to shoot across the fence, but there are a bunch of different angles you could play around with here. It’s definitely an amazing sight to see an A380 appear above the treeline before emerging in all it’s glory. If there are beach-goers, including them in your photo really gives an epic sense of scale for these jets!  It’s undoubtedly one of the most iconic spots in the world for plane spotting (for good reason), and definitely a must visit if you’re an avgeek.

Example shots:
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Caution: Qantas whale crossing
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Qantas A330 taxiing on Alpha
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Fiji A330 rotating off 34L with SYD tower in the background
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Cathay Cargo 747 touching down into SYD
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Atlas Air 747 with reverse thrusters on
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Vietnam Airlines Dreamliner making her way to a 34L departure

In Summary:

For anyone remotely interested in aviation, The Rydges Sydney Airport hotel is heaven. The proximity to the airport terminal as well as to other amazing plane spotting locations around SYD is extremely convenient. There are several restaurants within the hotel that you can grab food at, or if you wish, the airport food court is just several minutes away. The room was modern, clean and functional, and provided everything we needed for a comfortable stay. Definitely go for the airport facing rooms if you decide to stay here, you won’t regret it!

We’ve made a short hotel tour video and SYD planespotting compilation on our YouTube channel, check it out!

Where do you stay when you visit Sydney? Have you stayed at this hotel before? Please comment below to share your experience with us! You can also let us know what you thought about this review.  If you want more reviews and trip reports like this one, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Alvin is an aviation geek, enthusiast photographer, and software developer with a goal of exploring the world. He uses mileage programs to redeem premium flight travel, and shares his experiences here on OneMoreWeekToGo.

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