An insiders look at the Centennial Park Residences
Sydney’s Centennial Park - an urban oasis of formal gardens, ponds, grand avenues, statues, historic buildings and sporting fields - opened in 1888.
The park's Superintendent's Residence, a spacious home built from sandstone quarried on the site, was completed in 1892, while the equally comfortable Ranger's Cottage was constructed in 1898-99.
In August 2013, interest was sought from experienced operators to rejuvenate the two heritage properties, which had lain empty for some time.
Enter the Gervay family, who have owned and operated The Hughenden Boutique Hotel, which dominates the entrance to Queen Street, Woollahra, almost over the road from the park, for more than 20 years.
Susanne Gervay and her son James Ruben, general manager of The Hughenden, know a thing or two about restoring heritage buildings.
An Italianate mansion built by Dr Frederick Harrison Quaife in the 1870s, the house featured elegant rooms, a grand staircase, hand-cut chandeliers, wrought iron balconies, Italian marble fireplaces and servants quarters.
But when Dr Quaife sold the property in the early years of last century the lovely house began a chequered history – it operated as a Masonic Hall, ladies’ college, nurses’ home, dance hall, bordello and a hostel – which almost led to its ruin.
“We felt compelled to save this slice of Sydney’s early history,” says Susanne. “We could see its former beauty behind a concrete fence and decaying garden. We fell in love with it.”
After five years of painstaking renovations, Dr Quaife’s house was restored to its former glory. Today the Hughenden Hotel features 36 comfortable rooms and is a favourite accommodation option for thousands of people who return year after year to this warm and welcoming hotel and its fine French restaurant, Vincent.
The Gervay's set to work on the Centennial Park Residences with as much passion as they did the Hughenden. And the results of their careful restoration of the properties are stunning.
Perhaps Sydney's most iconic accommodation, set within one of the nation's best-loved parklands, The Residences are now open as boutique self-contained properties.
The Superintendent's Residence, located at the northern edge of Centennial Park, caters for a group of up to eight guests. Its plush interiors include stately antique-furnished chambers including a dining room, study, living room and four beautifully-appointed bedrooms, and contemporary amenities such as a state-of-the-art chef's kitchen.
The Ranger's Cottage, situated on the park's western boundary, is just as superbly appointed and, like the Superintendent's house, includes a breakfast hamper of bespoke and locally produced foods including honey from Centennial Park's bee hives, freshly-made delicacies from chefs at Vincent French Bistro, berry jams and artisan breads.
In addition to the self-contained luxury, both properties feature five-star full hotel service, 24-hour concierge services, and for those who wish to order in, internationally-acclaimed Vincent chefs will cater for anything from stylish soirees to home-style meals.
Less than 10 minutes from Sydney's CBD, The Residences are a singular accommodation option for wedding parties, family groups, corporates, visitors to Sydney, or those who wish to simply enjoy Centennial Park in a unique and truly memorable way.
- The Superintendent's Residence is $3,280 per night (sleeps 8); the Ranger's Cottage $1,980 per night (sleeps 6).
- For more information phone (02) 8039 1566 or go to theresidencescentennialpark.com.
- For more information on The Hughenden Hotel phone (02) 9363 4863, visit thehughenden.com.au.