Here’s why Rydges Sydney Airport makes international travel a breeze

Location, location, location - the seamless option for early morning overseas flights

Until the Aerotel Sydney Airport Hotel opens sometime in Q1 2022 within the International Terminal of Sydney Airport, you’re not going to find any closer accommodation than the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel.

I’m flying out of Sydney on Fiji Airways early morning service, a gnarly 6:30am scheduled departure. The thought of arriving at the airport at the suggested 3-hours beforehand is hard to fathom. On my very best run, driving from Sydney’s west to the airport is a minimum of 45-minutes to an hour, so I’m circa a 2:30am wake-up call (at the latest). I don’t think so.

For that reason alone, the Rydges makes perfect sense. Especially for pre-dawn flights.

On checking in at 4:30pm the night prior to my flight, I’m somewhat bemused by the guest in front of me who after all the formalities asks reception if they can assist him with booking a transfer to the airport the next day? Were they not paying any attention when their taxi, ride-share or shuttle dropped them off? The hotel is literally adjacent to the airport. Did they miss all the signage for Arrivals and Departures on their way in?

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In fairness, maybe it was due to the lack of traffic, or aircraft noise, at what was once a bustling and thriving metropolis. At this time of afternoon the airport is virtually dead as the impact of the pandemic continues to hit the airline industry hard. Either way, it was still daylight, the guest should have noticed.

The front desk attendant points over the guest’s shoulder. “You can walk there in 90 seconds!”

Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel GM, Johanna Carruthers, says it’s 181 steps from the hotel’s front door to the terminal.

Carruthers says, as to be expected, that business at the hotel has rebounded with the restart of international tourism. Rydges Sydney Airport is a popular choice especially with regional visitors coming in a day before their flight abroad. And occupancy is gearing up towards peak capacity in the last few weeks of the year.

The tarmac view from room 805 at Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel

Carruthers, who has been the General Manager for 4.5 years, gets emotional while guiding LATTE through the property an hour later when she catches a glimpse of vehicles beginning to queue at the drop-off zone ahead of the evening’s flights to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Colombo.

“That’s the first time in a very long time that I’ve seen that happen,” she remarks.

My room tonight is an overly spacious King Suite on level 8, overlooking the runway. For aviation buffs, it doesn’t get any better. Floor-to-ceiling windows look directly down onto Kingsford Smith’s Gates 8, 9 and 10, and across to the domestic terminal. Two chairs and a small table face outwards, providing the ideal perch to plane watch. A similar view is experienced even while laying on the bed. There’s a writing table, sofa and coffee table, mini-bar fridge, tea & coffee facilities – all the staples.

Other room types available include Superior Queen and Deluxe Airport View King – all of which feature the ultra-comfy Rydges Dream Beds. For guests who don’t want a tarmac view, or are concerned the aircraft noise will wake them in the morning, as Carruthers tells me, there are other options. The hotel is also well equipped for families and small groups with rooms that can accommodate up to six guests.

Executive Family Suite, Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel

Guests have access to a 24-hour gym, 24-hour in-room dining and complimentary WiFi.

The hotel’s restaurant, The Ascot, is closed for dining at the moment but is being used for Room Service, and is gearing up to reopen in early 2022. Smithy’s Bar on the ground floor is not only a popular choice for guests but airport staff and the AFP frequent the facility, especially in the morning for coffee. When it is open, the fully refurbished Ascot offers Australian-inspired cuisine for breakfast and dinner.


My stay was for work purposes, and was extremely comfortable and convenient. If I’m travelling abroad on a similar morning flight with my wife and daughters in the future, this will be a no brainer. Especially now with necessary PCR testing requirements. With some countries requiring a PCR or Rapid Antigen test to be conducted within 24 hours of departure, I’m recommending travellers do what I did.

Histopath's pop-up marquee outside the Sydney International Airport.

Arrive at the hotel the afternoon before your flight, check-in, get your bearings, and then make your way to the Histopath testing facility that’s about a 3-minute walk away, just outside the front doors of the airport. Even by 5pm you’ll still miss the crowds that I’m told start to form at the facility at 6pm as other travellers begin arriving and checking in for their evening flights out of the country.

Rates at Histopath are the cheapest you’ll find at the moment, at $79 for the PCR, and the company guarantees your result within an hour. That enables you to head back to the hotel for a meal, relax, or catch up on work emails while you wait. Histopath then sends a text informing you of your results and will print off a certificate for you to collect upon returning to their pop-up marquee.

Inside Histopath's testing facility at Sydney International Airport

The testing facility operates between 5:30am and 9pm, making it too late for travellers departing on early morning flights to be tested as they’ll need to have checked-in and cleared Immigration by 6am. For a family, the cost-saving for the PCR tests at the airport will likely be greater than the night’s accommodation.

Staying at Rydges Sydney Airport meant a care-free travelling experience the day of my flight, with no rushing or clock watching sitting in traffic en route to the airport in the early hours. For leisure travellers, it means your holiday would actually start a day earlier, and that’s got to be a good thing!

And for the record, I can’t argue with Joanna’s comment regarding the number of steps it takes to walk between the airport and hotel. I made it at around 170 – admittedly forgetting to start counting until a few steps in.


LATTE was a guest of Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel.

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