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Art, Four Seasons Sydney, an opera house, a hat and a salad

Coat-stand art, with Sydney Opera House in the distance

What stands out in today’s global luxury world? Every moment should have a story. Some years ago my father, who made lots of speeches, officially ‘opened’ the staircase leading up to the new mezzanine library above our office.

Never before, he declared with aplomb, had he had the honour of opening a staircase, named in his honour with a metal plaque.

Well never before has the gal raved about a coat stand.  A COAT stand? Memories of Lady Bracknell’s ‘a HANDbag?’ question from The Importance of Being Earnest spring to mind.

Soft metallic colours, and a side table that, vertically, looks like a bent paper clip

But this art work, in deluxe royal suite 3403 of Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, is no ordinary coat stand.  It is by Indonesian Joshua Simandjuntak, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art and owner of Zylia Design Studio,

He works with craftsmen from Jepara in Central Java, and judging by this one particular piece, I cannot wait to see more.  It is basically black aluminium, and it stands next to the seven-foot diameter circular corian bathtub in the sleek bathroom of 3403.

Scrub in the tub and love the view, in this case down to Sydney Opera House – an iconic art form that deserves a story or two all to itself.

The buttoned bedhead is called 'cobblestone'

3403 is one of three suites that have recently been redone by Bates Smart and it is gorgeous.  The colouring of everything is variously described as aluminium (but not black, apart from the coat stand), lichen and mineral.

Get the message. Go into the polygonal salon, or living room or parlour or what you will, and you have grey-brown parquet flooring and matching rugs. The six-seat wood dining table has armless chairs in ALM (aluminium or lichen or mineral, what you will).

There is another table, a console by the main door, with Calacutta Oro Grigio marble top. Yet another table, by a long mirror, is like a bent paper clip.  The four windows, two in the salon and one each in the bedroom and bathroom, have day- and night – Roman blinds.  The bedhead adds another colour dimension – rising to a height of about six feet. The buttoned leather is termed cobblestone.

'Sydney people', a photo on the wall of 3403 (Four Seasons)

Describing colour is an ongoing challenge. Even black and white are not self explanatory.  Think Rothko and his shades of black.  Among all the subtlety and elegance of 3403 at my home here at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney there is a simple photo.

Black and white.  Shadows of people, but whom?  You see everyone here in Sydney, where anything goes.  Running along Central Quay on my way to the Botanic Garden and round to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, one of my favourite Sydney runs, I saw some wedding guests – it was early evening.

Most were quite sensibly dressed. One was stand-out-and-sock-it attired, in platinum white hair topped with a scarlet bow that exactly matched her mid-calf dress with outward flowing skirt, flowing over the ample hips of a 50-plus who perhaps loves her fish n’chips…

A tall cupboard opens to reveal a full help-yourself bar

An evening at this luxury hotel should start with a visit to the 32nd floor club lounge, where the manager, the lovely Judy Larucci, is now celebrating THIRTY years with the hotel.

She started as a restaurant cashier, and she says there is a coterie of other veterans. What a dream.   At cocktail hour she and her team pull back double doors to reveal the copious buffet.  They also open a double-door cabinet to reveal – a help yourself bar, what a clever idea.

The view is so stupendous that it is tempting to dine in. Do that, and a house salad looks remarkably like the David Shilling hat I wore to the Melbourne Cup some years ago.  The hat was so sensational it appeared on Channel Nine.  It was quite the equal of the straw bonanza that Queen of the Cup Hats Lillian Frank sported that particular year.

Is this a hat or a salad?

In the morning it was back down for another run.  As I went out it looked as if it might rain.  Please hold it off for half an hour, I asked the young bellmen.  Of course, said one with a smile, and went straight to a telephone to call……   He succeeded.

I came back dry, and while climbing the 51 steps up to the third floor  (this is a three-floor open-atrium hotel) for a final couple of minutes in the gym a man started tinkling on the Steinway.

As it does every morning from 0730 to 0930, live piano music reverberates down, from third floor past second floor breakfast in Kables to the comings and goings of what is Four Seasons’ largest hotel (531 rooms) – what style.