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Bedding down at Sydney Airport

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

✦ Prior to checking in, travel writer Susie Boswell checks out an exceptional hotel right at the edge of the runways.

Brilliant online reviews Sydney Airport Hotels. Mantra
Mantra on Sydney Airport rises above the runways

My head’s in the clouds, and I’m loving it. Planes taking off from Sydney’s busily throbbing domestic and international airports scream as they climb into the sky mere metres above my head, a thrilling aerial burst of energy and thrust. And with each that passes, whining, on descent I do a mental “duck” - in case they hit me, they seem so close! Just as aircraft, when they salute, dip and waggle their wings, I do a subtle shimmy, an involuntary frisson at being so near these gloriously powerful skybirds - yet tucked safely inside the picture windows of my room atop one of Sydney’s most personable airport hotels.

Such was my overwhelming sensation when Mantra on Sydney Airport opened some six years ago, and has remained a trademark when I’ve stayed now on three subsequent occasions. Checking in here the night before departure, to overseas or to further-flung Australian destinations, ensures a smooth stress-free transition.

Brilliant online reviews Sydney Airport Hotels. Mantra Sydney Airport reception is the start of your journey
Off to a good start with a warm, efficient greeting

The bonus is that the anticipation of your flight and holiday, family reunion, or whatever purpose of travel is brought forward: the excitement that accompanies a journey starts once you check in to the hotel.

If you’re ho-hum about flying, blasé at what a whiff of avgas promises, and the sound of jet engines elicits only ennui then, as my mate Dr Sammy Johnson says, you’re just too tired of life.

Certainly, kids especially will get a sustained kick out of close-up plane spotting: parents, meanwhile, a reprieve from trying to invent new ways of keeping children occupied and satisfied in the - these days, inevitably - drawn-out prelude to actually clicking on the seat belt.

Exiting Sydney by air? A pre-flight airport hotel stay ensures you check in on time

The Mantra sits right at the northern edge of the airport complex, moments from the chain-wire perimeter fence to the taxiways. Any closer and it would be actually on the tarmac. Its convenient proximity to domestic Departures is such that many exiting guests choose just to hit the footpath (well-lit in dim light), pulling their roll-ons along for the few minutes it takes to the T2 and T3 terminals. Of course, cold or inclement weather’s possible; there may be a posse of junior travellers to wrangle; lots of luggage might need handling: Mantra’s 24-hour Reception staff have transfer by economical Sydney Super Shuttle down to a fine art, from the earliest hours of the day. Taxis and Ubers heading empty to the airport, too, can be keen to pick up a small fare for the final leg of their trip.

The activity in the air is matched by the buzz of a friendly and enthusiastic team here on the front desk, accustomed to serving a clientele overwhelmingly of travellers with deadlines to meet. On all occasions I’ve stayed I found, and observed, them to be knowledgeable, willing and efficient in catering to left-field inquiries or requirements. Reception staff who offer eye contact, a genuine smile and truly enjoy their job? That’s something.

The lobby opens to the glassed-in hotel restaurant, bar and a private lounge-cum-waiting area on one side and to a complimentary computer nook and the lifts on the other. (Lifts! The bane of life in many hotels. It’s irritating to have to wait yonks for a lift to arrive, an aspect I detest in many a five-star CBD establishment). Here, lifts arrive promptly and travel swiftly – another little dollop of Mantra dopamine.

Brilliant online reviews Sydney Airport Hotels. Mantra has a spacious dining space
Spacious dining and 24/7 service suit travellers’ schedules

In fact, I’ve come to think of Mantra on Sydney Airport as my Goldilocks hotel, as the metaphor goes. A low-to-mid-budget rate opens up individually air-conditioned rooms of a cosy but practical size, warmly carpeted and decorated (appropriately, with framed historic aircraft prints), featuring both sheer and block-out curtains and all the expected standard amenities including crisp restful bedding with choice of pillows, fluffy towels, ensuite bathroom with both a hand-held and a refreshing rain shower, TV, safe, iron/ironing board, mini fridge and, of course, a digital alarm clock – everything with the whiff of newness and sparkling clean.

Whether going out or arriving home, an uninterrupted sleep’s particularly desirable: I found Mantra’s soundproofing notably effective. If required, guests are offered Wifi, available for a fee.

Brilliant online reviews Sydney Airport Hotels. Mantra offers easy wardrobe options
Handy open wardrobing highlights ease of coming, going

One special aspect that strikes the first-time guest is the wardrobe. There isn’t one. As if to underline that this hotel’s dedicated to travellers coming and going and not for dawdling, clothes hangers are fixed, exposed, to the walls, perfectly inviting a quick discard of jacket and pants, and a snappy grab-dress-go in the morning. After all, no one’s unpacking here: we’re all poised to fly out, or eager to bed down for immediate respite from a lengthy return flight.

Or, first, perhaps: the in-room electronic hotel directory suggests a welcome diversion. On 364 days a year, 8am to midnight, a Rejuvenator massage. The Rejuvenator website says the service provides clients with “a safe professional non-sexual massage”. Mobile therapists offer a seated massage or bring a portable table, oils and lotions for a relaxation, remedial, sports or aromatherapy massage, full-body exfoliation or facial. For example, the StressBuster, it boasts “will combat fatigue, provide stress relief, reduce the effects of jet lag and provide a deep sense of peace” with its combination of deep tissue, Swedish and Shiatsu massage and reflexology.

In tune with the hotel’s reason for being, there’s round-the-clock food and beverage room service from the Mantra kitchens. From breakfast on, the ground-floor restaurant offers an all-day menu through to lunch and dinner and the restful adjacent lounge is ideal for indulging in drinks from the bar. The spacious dining space informally divides itself into several sections by use of distinctive floor tiling or carpeting, and layout. A corner nook, for example, is slightly removed from the main area and suitable for restless children, or as a more secluded spot for solo patrons to enjoy reading as they dine. All the while, wall-mounted Departures boards keep guests informed of aircraft timetables.

Driving to Sydney before flying out? An airport hotel with parking smooths the trip.

A key attribute of the hotel is the vast parking area surrounding the building. It’s doubtful you’d ever miss securing a spot in this massive well-lit arena. It’s open-air but secure, with passengers, the airport Shuttle and taxis all coming and going pretty much all the time. On the last occasion I stayed the fee - with unlimited exits and re-entries - was less than at the Blue Emu public parking facility. (And, using Blue Emu requires drivers to join its shuttle bus for quite a distance to the domestic terminals, and doesn’t service the International Airport at all. Blue Emu T1 travellers need to pay the Sydney Super Shuttle fare, or transfer by rail or taxi/Uber across to International). Inquire with Mantra Reception for charges for leaving your car at the hotel while you’re away.

Back from overseas and transiting home regionally? An airport hotel spell makes sense.

In all, I find this venue simply comfortable and efficient, both pre- and post-flight, particularly when dealing with what can be the endurance test of long-haul travel. Frequently, there are delays on arrival home: queues, duty-free shopping, customs, quarantine, baggage collection, then the wait for a taxi/shuttle, maybe in inclement weather. If you’re transferring to a regional flight you could be cutting it fine - too fine. If driving on to your country home, a good night’s rest is not only welcome but wise.

Brilliant online reviews Sydney Airport Hotels. The Mantra provides much info support for passengers
Internet and Departures info support passengers on the move

For departing passengers faced with a bare minimum of three hours arrival required prior to take-off, it’s not worth gambling you won’t encounter all sorts of delays meeting that deadline too. And if you’d enjoy the mesmerising “preview” thrill of watching the big birds come and go as you settle into your room, make sure to request an airport-side location.

Photos: Susie Boswell; Accor Hotels.


Mantra on Sydney Airport

3 Ross Smith Avenue, Mascot NSW.

Reception: 02 8398 0700

Reservations: 13 15 17


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