2016 is a year of celebration for the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, with the luxury heritage hotel turning 50. Opening in 1966 as “The Wentworth Hotel”, it was the first 5-star hotel in Sydney. The hotel will mark this impressive milestone by inviting guests to embark on a journey of the historic Wentworth Hotel.
In 1800 the site of the first Wentworth Hotel in Lang Street became part of Church Hill, a developing area of Sydney. In 1824 three substantial, two storey terrace houses were built in Lang Street, the last terrace, No 3 Church Hill, became the future Wentworth Hotel. In 1833 William Charles Wentworth and Dr Wardell launched “The Australian” newspaper which was published from No 3 Church Hill.
In 1854 a boarding residence was operated on the site which became known as Wentworth House and in 1882 Mary Hayes purchased Wentworth House, naming it the Wentworth House Family Hotel. On Christmas Day 1888, fire destroyed Wentworth House. In 1901 the lease on the Wentworth Hotel was given to Donald Samuel Maclurcan and remained in the Maclurcan family until 1950.
The Wentworth Ballroom was added and opened in 1920. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII and the Duke of Windsor after abdication, danced in the new ballroom on a number of occasions. By 1925, the hotel of 100 rooms was a well established and popular destination which was further expanded to 200 rooms in 1940.
Qantas Empire Airways negotiated a controlling interest in the hotel in 1950, beginning a new phase in the hotel’s development. In 1961 approval was granted for Qantas to build a new 400 room hotel next to Qantas House in Chifley Square and in 1966 the new Wentworth Hotel was completed and became the first five star hotel in Sydney.
In 1982 the hotel was resold and further refurbishments were done. In 2002 AccorHotels began managing the hotel under the Sofitel brand, bringing it to the luxurious 5-star hotel it is today, in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
Over the years, The Wentworth Hotel has hosted many international dignitaries and celebrities, such as Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. Other visitors have been Prince Charles and Princess Diana, numerous film and sports stars as well as the first men on the moon.
General Manager of Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Wayne Taranto said “We are extremely proud of the hotel’s heritage and this year we will fully embrace the beginnings of The Wentworth Hotel with a variety of celebratory hotel activations throughout 2016. The hotel will release a limited edition remembrance booklet and video with original footage of the hotel opening and its evolution throughout the five decades, as well as a selection of anniversary offers for our valued hotel guests. We can’t let the year end without honouring the official opening day of the Wentworth Hotel on 14 December 1966, therefore on that day, we will host a grand celebration in our iconic Wentworth Ballroom.”