Sydney’s International Airport, known as Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport since 1936 in honour of the Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, is the longest continually operated commercial airport in the world. Wherever you’re headed, here’s how to get the most out of Australia’s principal hub.
Eats and Drinks
Quality cafes, bars and casual, healthy dining options abound at Sydney International, many now with city skyline views in a dual-level dining precinct. Australian chef Mike McEnearney’s Kitchen by Mike is all about honest, hearty seasonal and locally-sourced fare such as roast chicken, pork belly, cucumber with mirin and sesame, woodfired pumpkin and chia pudding with rhubarb. Kitchen by Mike also supplies ‘Fly by Mike’ inflight meal packs, which you can take on your flight. Mike has paid particular attention to flavours which resonate better in the air, as our sense of taste is different at 30,000 feet.
For more top-end snacking head to The Bistro by Wolfgang Puck. Think Australian Wagyu burgers, gourmet pizzas and truffle potato chips and their signature chopped salad. Roll'd offers excellent Vietnamese, Beqaa is the place for Lebanese street food and YO! Sushi, Terrace Chinese Kitchen and Taste of Thai are self-explanatory. As is the accurately named Better Burger, created by Australian chef Shannon Bennett of Vue de Monde restaurant fame. Or try the Korean-style crispy fried chicken at BBQ Chicken and assuage your sweet tooth at Oliver Brown.
Catching Some ZZZ's
There are precious few seats and even fewer places to lie down in the main concourse so if you have a significant layover, the best option is an airport hotel.
Sydney Airport has a curfew between 11pm and 6am so if you have an overnight layover, the hotels are your only alternative to an uncomfortable night. Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel is right across from the check-in counters (181 steps by their reckoning) and many rooms enjoy runway views. They often have package offers, such as the current ‘Dine, Sleep & Fly Package’ from $235 per night and the ‘Family Holiday Saver Package’ from $229 per night. In the nearby suburb of Mascot you’ll find Stamford Plaza, Mantra, Travelodge and Ibis, as well as serviced apartments at Meriton Suites and Adina Apartment Hotel. Sydney International Airport is close to the city so if you have enough time between flights, you could opt for a CBD hotel and a fuller exploration of the harbour city.
Lounges are generally only available to members and eligible passengers. The only pay-in option is SkyTeam Exclusive Lounge operated by Plaza Premium Lounge. As a guide, a five hour stay here will set you back US$53 and should be booked in advance. There are a couple of shower facilities in the airport but you will have to provide your own soap and towel.
Pick up Something Else
Heinemann Duty Free is the main game at Sydney airport with five expansive department stores stocking a wide variety of top-end tipples, fashion, perfumes, cosmetics, technology and confectionary. Among the 800-odd brands within Heinemann are premium names such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Bally, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna and Chanel. Frequent flyers might consider joining the Heinemann & Me rewards program. They also accept many foreign currencies so this is a good way to get rid of your leftover euros, pounds, yen, baht or foreign dollars on your way back into the country. If you prefer to shop online (up to 30 days) before your flight, you can use Heinemann Click & Collect.
You don’t have to go far to find more big retail names, many gathered together in the fashion precinct – Kate Spade New York, Max Mara, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Burberry and Coach to name but a few. Tiffany & Co, Hermès, Rolex, Montblanc, R.M. Williams, Rip Curl and Sunglass Hut all have outlets at Sydney International. Think Sydney and Think Australia offer bonzer Aussie souvenirs, including Indigenous crafts, ideal for visitors and as gifts for overseas friends. There are iconic sheepskin products at UGG Australia or you can splurge on Australian south sea pearls from Kailis Jewellery.