Sydney Harbour YHA Hostel: Review

February 23, 2011

stunning Sydney Harbor YHA hostel in the rocks central sydney

Looking for the coolest and best budget place to stay in Sydney, Australia? I don't think you can beat the stunning Sydney Harbor YHA Hostel that is located in the heart of "The Rocks", one of Sydney's premier tourist precincts. The award winning Sydney Harbor YHA has an ideal location just minutes walking distance away from the harbor, the city center, Botanical Gardens and the Opera House. It's new, green, unique, and the best price lodging one can find in this area. You can also easily visit other parts of Sydney by foot, bus, train, tram or ferry, but here you are at the center of it all which was important to us on our first trip to Australia with only a week to drink it all in.

Sydney opera house at sunset from Sydney Harbor YHA hostel

sydney Harbor YHA and review

family fun at sunset in Sydney from rooftop of Sydney Harbor YHA


The spectacular rooftop terrace at this YHA hostel has 360 degree views of this amazing city, one of the most beautiful we have visited and like many rooms here, ours had views of the harbor and the iconic Sydney Opera House. After a bit of rain at first and a thrilling lightening storm one night, it was perfect sunny weather when we were there which made it divine, but I thought how magical it must be to stay here also on New Year's Eve when they do spectacular fire works in the harbor.

They have have regular bi-weekly Aussie style BBQ's at sunset on the roof at budget prices and we all loved trying out kangaroo and burgers that were scrumptious. It was funny to find out beets are common on hamburgers here which seems odd to an American palate. We even did a "tweet up" there one night that I will write  about and met Brooke Schoenman  , ( and her boyfriend)  and Cyberetto who we have known for a long time online through our blog and social media channels.

awesome rooftop of Sydney Harbor YHA in central Sydney the rocks



Sydney Harbour YHA seemed more like a luxury hotel to us in many ways rather than a hostel, although the style is simple and modern. Wow! " said Mozart when she saw our large room with the spectacular view of the harbor, Sydney Opera House and the famous Harbour Bridge and we agreed. It's an ideal place for families visiting Sydney and we met lots of folks of every age there from twenty somethings to retired types, so felt very comfortable and loved the budget benefits that their wonderful kitchen adds, especially since we were in very expensive central Sydney for almost a week.

They do have family rooms, but we decided to stay in a double room and added a trundle bed for Mozart because it was plenty of room for our needs and we liked the view from our beds! We found it a very comfortable, clean and quiet room, loved the wifi in our room ( we were dealing with a family funeral on the road during our stay) and the bathroom was large enough that all three of us could have taken a shower together. It's a very busy place, but we found the staff very friendly and extremely helpful.



night view of Sydney from our Sydney Harbor YHA room

large bathroom Sydney Harbor YHA hostel


Sydney Harbour YHA opened in late 2009,  the first budget accommodation option in this elite part of Sydney ( right by the Four Seasons and Shangri-La hotels). We love the fact that YHA is committed to a policy of environmental sustainability and that it built this special place on an archaeological site in a unique, educational and ecologically responsible way. We did a free tour of the archaeological site that was fascinating and I will tell you more about that in another post soon.

It's not as cheap as some hostels, ( nor is wifi free) but Sydney is a very expensive city, this is prime historic real estate and I talked to many of the guests who all said it was well worth the price. Shared rooms start at $37.50 ( with YHA membership) which is amazing and a steal in this location which is the ultimate "location, location, location" in Sydney. Just look at the room prices at neighboring hotels.

The Rocks famous area in central Sydney Australia

archeology dig at The Rocks at Sydney Harbor YHA

arrival at Sydney Harbor YHA built over acheology dig

our family enjoying the rocks , sydney harbor and sydney opera house


 In our five years of non-stop travel as a family to 39 countries on 5 continents, we have not stayed in many hostels, although we use many different types of lodging. We travel on just 23 dollars a day per person, so costs always enters into our decision and dorm rooms do not fit our style. We did stay in a hostel that we enjoyed in Norway and this YHA hostel experience makes us want to go back to Australia to explore more, possibly via hostels. I can see why they are so popular with young travelers, seniors and some families.

The benefits of this Sydney Harbor YHA are many like full kitchen, pool, laundry services, mini-theater, tour desk, bike storage, education center with 2 classrooms, all rooms have en suite bathrooms and more. Hostels are also a great way to meet other travelers very easily. Mozart loved that we could cheaply rent a movie to watch in our room at night.  We saved a lot of money in Sydney by being able to cook many of our own meals there, buy food at markets and love how those kind of rituals ground and enrich us as a family whose home is in motion.

"Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion" Hunt


family washing dishes at Sydney Harbor YHA hostel

food cubicles, refrigerators, dining room at hostel in sydney

kiddo drying dishes at hostel in sydney

internet lobby of Sydney harbor YHA hostel

writing an email in a hostel

We actually had planned to do couch surfing in Sydney as we had done in Bora Bora and Moorea, but with the sudden death in our family, we changed our plans at the last minute when we met the amazing Janet McGarry. We are really grateful that we got to experience this hostel so we could tell you all about this gem and we appreciate their sponsorship of our stay.

 YHA has other hostels in Sydney and nearby New South Wales area, but I can't imagine them topping this one even if it is a bit more for the primo location. If you are headed to Sydney, I'd definitely put this place at the top of your list!

jumping for joy is Sydney near opera house




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Brooke vs. the World

The Sydney Harbour YHA is a pretty special place -- great write-up and photos. It's so clean and new, located in the heart of the city's historic center and provides fantastic views. Definite recommend.


Thanks Brooke! We're really glad that we discovered it quite by accident....the Rocks rocks for sure! ;) So much fun getting to meet you too...funny that we first met online before either one of us was traveling on this road yet! ;) I will be writing more about that!


I plan on visiting Sydney someday and this place seems like a steal.Love the view and the rates.Thanks Jeanne for this useful post.

Also,is it a convenient stopover if visiting Fiji?


Charmine- Great, glad to hear that it is useful for you! If you check out the prices of the nearby hotels you will see what I mean about what a deal it is. ;)

We have not been to Fiji yet so I can't answer that one. You will love Sydney and this place...we were very happy to discover it and The Rocks is a wonderful area. When the weather is's hard to leave! lol


The Rocks is my fave part of Sydney - and this is the second time I see this new YHA mentioned - must mean I'm meant to visit soon :)

Excellent review!


LOL Sophie!Must be a sign. ;) Hard not to love The Rocks, eh?

Michela @Rocky Australia Travel

I love Sydney and the Rocks is among my fave areas of the city...I love staying in hostels and I am definitely going to try this YHA at the Sydney Harbour! the site looks amazing! :)


Michela- Coolio! ;) It's a real state of the art kind of place and I'm sure you'll love it!

Camels & Chocolate

Wow, that's nicer than any hostel I've ever seen! I, too, stayed in the Rocks when I was in Sydney last summer and agree the location can't be beat. Isn't it just the loveliest city? I can definitely see myself living there.

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