History of Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney Heritage
Learn about our Sydney Harbour-area hotel’s fascinating history
Set in the building of John Fairfax & Sons, which dates back to the 1850s, the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney enjoys a historic location. Situated near Sydney Harbour, our hotel's building was once home to The Sydney Morning Herald and the Bank of New South Wales. Many of the unique architectural details designed during these periods are still present throughout the hotel. Read more about our building's interesting past below.
John Fairfax & Sons 1856 – 1955
The original building on this site dates back to 1856 when it was home to John Fairfax & Sons, publishers of Australia’s oldest surviving newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald. The original stone clad building was designed in Italianate style by architects Goold & Hillings and consisted of three storeys and a basement.
An extension building was constructed between 1922 and 1929. Architects Manson & Pickering designed the building in the inter-war renaissance palazzo style using Bondi sandstone and Bowral trachyte to clad one of Sydney’s earliest concrete frame structures. Erected by Stuart Brothers builders and standing at nine levels with a basement, the building was restricted to 150 feet (50 metres) in height by the Height of Buildings Act, which limited the upward growth of Sydney between 1913 and 1956. The cupola typifies the efforts of architects to add an illusion of height to city building during that period.
Bank of New South Wales 1956 – 1997
Fairfax Press shared the upper floors of the building with commercial tenancies, many of who remained after the sale of the building in 1954 to the Bank of New South Wales, now known as Westpac. The last edition of The Sydney Morning Herald was written, sub-edited and typeset at this site on December 21st, 1955.
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney 2000 – Present
The Walter Construction Group carried out a number of adaptive works on the building between 1998 and 2000 with the culmination of the intimate, boutique style, five-star Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney opening in July 2000.
The cupola weighing some 920 tonnes was raised 3.9 metres to its current level to maintain the aesthetic balance of the building that by now incorporated three additional levels. While the interior was completely redeveloped, some important architectural features were retained. The original offices of Sir Warwick and Sir James Fairfax on the Mezzanine level were restored and are now beautiful meeting rooms. The 362 guest rooms and suites were designed to beautifully complement the stunning heritage sandstone façade. The original lavish public hall at Hunter Street is now home to Bistro Fax Restaurant & Bar. In 2010 and coinciding with the hotel’s 10th birthday year, the hotel underwent a multimillion dollar redesign program, transforming the lobby including reception, concierge, lounge and Bistro Fax Restaurant & Bar.