The Cortile Lounge – Intercontinental Hotel


Coffee: 12/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 28/40
Bean: Vittoria 

Marble floors, copper sculptures of lions, an impressive yester-year atrium, huge comfortable leather chairs to lounge in and service at the wave of your hand (occasionally).  There are few places to get a coffee in Sydney where such an experience applies. Coffee shops generally don’t have the space, let alone the cash to set up such a space. So in seeking such an experience we have to go figuratively ‘off road’ (coffee road that is) to one of the better hotels in Sydney. On this dark and wet Monday, I find myself in the foyer space of Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel. Having stayed the weekend with Nerd 2, trying a coffee and extending the holiday (before braving the weather) on the way back home to Newtown was a must.

Upon sitting down we were quickly presented with menus for a late lunch. Both Nerd 2 and I took some time to consider what to drink and eat and within a nice period of time a polite wait staff person was back to take our order. I went for a latte, whilst Nerd 2 went a random spicy rich tea (she reports back it was a Mokalbarie – a Ronnefeldt tea).

Looking at the patrons is interesting. Beside us, women, all well dressed, gossip and chatter amongst themselves having an amazingly elegant high-tea, to the other side, a couple from a far more exotic lands than I, enquire over whether they can get preserved meats in Sydney and order a spiced coffee with kids, better dressed than I can afford, running round. Such a different crowd than I am use to in my coffee adventures.

The coffee came to us far more quickly then I would have expected. The latte was presented in a huge glass, which could be considered a little generous (however, I am sure the price will match the size – I’m yet to pay the bill) but to an Aussie standard, a little on the excessive side. It also came with a choc chip cookie, which is a nice touch (the tea had one as well, which is just as well to prevent thieving from Nerd 2).

The coffee’s aroma was rich, smoky and a little on the chocolatey side; it seems even in the high life, Vittoria (or something very much like Vittoria) dominates these places. As I have commented a million times, it’s a nice bean, but really – fine establishments of Australia you can do better!

Tasting wise it is, as you would expect from an Italian roasted bean, a drink where the roast plays more of a role in the flavour than the bean. In this case, the chocolate tones of the bean play a secondary role to that smoky roast flavour of the bean roasting experience. The coffee pleasantly does, however, still have distinct levels of acidity to it (which this roast can often wipe out) and more of a body than I would have expected.

As the food arrives (we went for a mezze plate) I took some time to look to look around. The building is simply stunning. The darkness of the day filtering down into the space elegantly, the darkness allowing the building’s lighting to create pools of light in archways and on selected tables. While it is a busy day the physical space adsorbed much of the sound of chattering allowing for it to be an easy place to sit and take in the sound of falling rain on the skylights above. As a Batman fan, I reckon it’s got a Gotham City like look and feel, awesome!

Overall, whilst not the best coffee in town or the best price (it turned out to be $7) the space is charming, service fantastic and seating super confortable. It’s as easy to get a coffee here as a glass of red or a cocktail and get lost in the sound of rain drops (weather permitting!). While many Sydneysiders often shun hotels as destinations other than for high-tea, Sydney architecture lovers and those who want a bit of classiness in their afternoon or evening I think will love the experience. Take yourself on holidays for an hour.

1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 6/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
Coffee total: 12/20

2. Cafe score 
Style (what’s it feel like):  (with rain) A classy Gotham City hotel
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Cafe: 16/20
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40

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