Bars and Nightclubs
George Street, Sydney

Ivy Bar

330 George St, Sydney, NSW
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A sophisticated urban playground. This purpose built bar has intimate corners for private chats and relaxed lounging plus lots of space for dancing the night away. With world class design and service, Sydney has never sen anything quite like it. Famous to Sydneysiders, the Ivy Bar is more likened to an imperial palace, with Sydney elite spending their Friday and Saturday nights winding down or partyng hard in the lap of pure luxury and sophistication at one of Sydney’s and Australia’s finest venues.

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Ivy Bar Review

Review By Nastasia Campanella

Prior to its opening and then after the doors were unlocked in early 2009, Ivy has been the talk of Sydney town. Whether it was reports of the police not wanting the complex to open because of a possible increase in anti social behaviour, news of the decadent design or gossip about the owner, Justin Hemmes hooking up with the latest “it” girl, Ivy has been the bar / club on everyone’s lips. I’d heard so many reports about this place. Some were great and others weren’t. I must admit I’m generally not a fan of huge, commercialized watering holes and I almost felt like I couldn’t agree to go there as a reviewer for fear of going with very preconceived ideas. However, when a place took $180 million to build and four years to get Council approval, why wouldn’t I want to see what all the fuss is about.

It was a cold and wet May evening when my friend and I headed there. The first thing we noticed is the bar/nightclub is split into two. One entry gets you into the main part of the place which provides patrons with a huge selection of eating, drinking and lounging opportunities, each one different from the next. This entry is also the door to shopping heaven. Stores like Sass & Bide, , Ginger & Smart and Peter Alexander call this precinct home. The second entry point, is located just a little further down George St. With security guards everywhere to tick off names and OK outfits, this passage is the door to the exclusive Pool Club.

I’m not quite sure I’m able to call Ivy a club – its shear hugeness makes me want to dub it a precinct of some sort. For me, it’s an ambitious take on an American style complex with just about everything over the top. Walk in to the main floor where the bench tops are marble, the carpet turquoise and the bars title lines the walls. Furniture in this room is retro, but is very different to the deck chairs and umbrellas in the outside area on this level which provide for a very relaxed feel [would be perfect in summer]. Near by is the Lawn Bar where there is a sprinkler system that I’m sure is there just for show. Girls, there is even a strip of grass in this area so watch the heals here. Up a level is the Ivy Lounge – an up market spot complete with a chandelier, but this bar does seem to be for a 30 something crowd. Next stop is the Den. It’s no wonder bootylicious reality TV star, Kim Kardashian was found in this part of the place on her recent trip to Australia. If I was famous I’d want to sit it in an intimate, classy place like the Den what with its silver, full length mirrors, green sofas and red pillows.

What everyone I know has really been gushing over is the notable, Pool Club. It’s no wonder Ivy got the Gone for best new design at the 2009 Australian bar awards and Time Out Magazine voted it Bar of the year. Believe it! There is actually a 25 metre pool with small bars and cosy cabanas dotted around the decking. Apparently, the aim of the uba cool Pool Club is to give you the feeling of holidaying in the south of France or Palm Springs. Never having been to either of these destinations, I totally channel this vibe with my $17 Bikini Ballini in one hand and a slice of my slightly cold pizza in the other. I didn’t find the toppings [eggplant, mushrooms, baby spinach and tomato], tasty at all – must have been a bad week at the organic farmers market. The base was the perfect thickness, but was a very disappointingly cool temperature. I felt like it had been cooked and then left to sit for a while. Apart from pizzas, there is a few traditional types of pasta for the good looking, professional, smooth talking, 24 plus crowd. They seem like a glamorous bunch prepared to party any night of the week. One of the many party people out on the Friday night we were there was RNB sensation, Usher.

I’m sure many of these hotties have eaten at Ecello – the swanky Italian restaurant alongside the Pool Club. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but if that’s what you’re into, try the arancini, zucchini flowers and the angel hair pasta with crab, garlic and chilli. Other food choices at Ivy are Mad Cow. Australian Gourmet Traveller says the steaks are gold, ranging between $38 and $75. While Teppanyaki has an after 11 night noodle menu, Sushi Choo has amazing sashimi. Ash St Seller – a Parisian style wine bar – provides tapas you’d think you’d normally have for breakfast. Highlights are the fluffy scrambled eggs with a side of brioche, tasty warm toast topped with sauteed mushrooms and the Gorgonzola fondue is creamy bliss. But it’s not all over priced food here. The Royal George has $10 jugs of beer and great pub grub for 10 bucks during the week – all our favourites like chicken schnitzel, fish and chips or Shepherds Pie.

Sure, owner, Justin Hemmes has a bit of a play boy image. He’s always got a beautiful notable lady on his arm and he is regularly spotted zipping around in his Lamborghini. The guy even owns a boat, a stack of other top notch bars and nightclubs around Sydney – he’s even responsible for the Good Vibrations festival. I don’t think it is any surprise he took this bold move in opening Ivy. I think it will be a huge success – offering food, drinks and settings for all occasions and people. Do I think some of the decor, prices and attitude of the people who frequent the bar are over the top and highly over rated? My oath!

I’m certainly glad I went. I mean, I’ve never been to Nice or Vegas. While it would be lovely to visit those spots once in a lifetime for a bit of fun, like Ivy, I’m not sure I’d return in a hurry.

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A 2nd Ivy Bar Review

Review By Kelly Teng

Ah, The Ivy. They say that if you haven’t been to The Ivy, you haven’t really seen Sydney’s nightlife. Well, I’ve been to The Ivy and it most definitely is the embodiment of Sydney: big, expensive, and filled with options for whatever you want your night to be.

The Ivy is definitely not a club and it’s not a bar – for one thing, it is split into two. To describe The Ivy in all its vastness is a mission on its own: when I was walking around, I’m sure I got lost on more than one location and somehow always ended up somewhere new. The entry point tucked behind a store on George Street (which is the entry I went in from) houses two pathways: the left takes guests to the Den, Ivy Bar, and Ivy Lounge, while walking straight ahead will see you find the lifts that go up to The Pool Club, The Changeroom, and the Penthouses. It’s always great to try both, but on a hot summer’s night I found The Pool Club and The Changeroom to be my ideal starting venue. From there, I somehow managed to work my way across to Ivy Bar, the Den, and Ivy Lounge before stumbling across the Penthouse by sheer accident. No matter where I was, it always felt like there was a new area to be discovered – and Ivy newcomers should beware: exploring all the places can see you get kicked out of floors with private functions, or just stared at by staff because you ended up in a restaurant or staff only section.

Now, while it’s all well and good to want to sit down at The Ivy for a meal, I have to say that I really have never felt any compulsion to. To me, The Ivy is a spot to be when I want an indulgent night out, and fine dining certainly isn’t included when the drinks are already priced well above average. Like everything else in Sydney, The Ivy has a tendency to overprice everything. I made the mistake of not going for pre-drinks before coming here, and two drinks later I was flat out of cash. While the cocktails were nice, the $10 for a beer was really uncalled for and certainly a case of “we’re going to make this expensive because we can”. Staff were also a bit of a hit-and-miss: I enjoyed talking to the people at the door but the floor staff and bartenders were definitely a disappointment. In a location like The Ivy, I would expect the pinnacle of high quality service and was greeted instead with a sense of condescension and ridiculous wait times that definitely didn’t give it a hospitable atmosphere.

With that being said, The Ivy certainly does give a great atmosphere aside from its staff – the decor is very classic chic (although overbearing and overdone sometimes in places like The Den) and there is always a massive crowd which means that energy constantly pulsates through each area. The range of people that like to rock up to The Ivy is like a lottery – people from every age bracket, every walk of life, and so on. The girls are beautiful and the guys are rich, making it the perfect spot to be if you want a dose of California or NYC right here in Australia. However, with beauty and money comes pretention, and it’s no surprise that a lot of the guests can be rude and obnoxious if they want to. The music also has diversity to it: different rooms blast different beats, such as The Changeroom which cranks up the hip hop and RnB. The real idea behind being at The Ivy is that you’re constantly discovering new places, and with this new discovery comes new places that you’ll want to come back to next time.

But no matter what I say, when it comes down to it…The Ivy cannot be described in all its essence. It’s one of those places that you just have to go to – even if you only go once – just to see what the fuss is all about. Just remember to have pre-drinks beforehand, or you will probably end up spending your entire week’s earnings on your one night at The Ivy.

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A 3rd Review of The Ivy

Review By Kat Pollard

Hiding unassumingly The Ivy in George street can only be heard from the streets of Sydney. Once you enter the venue you’ll find it amusing that a place with so much opulence is so hidden from Sydney goers. If you’re deserving of some VIP treatment you’ll be able to enter from the front and cruise past some high priced retail, if not head to the back and join ridiculous lines of people that desperately want to be seen. Although the line is long and often a bit pushy it’s well worth the wait when you enter the main building. It’s hard to witness the beauty if, like me, you’re 5ft something and often get squashed by large crowds. Duck and weave and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a mix between, the hanging gardens of Babylon, a royal place or some sort of mafia boss house. There is several improvements that they could make at the Ivy but they definitely nailed the design and decor.

Once you recover from your temporary shell shock you’ll need to hydrate. Head to the Ivy bar and expect to pass out from either the heat or the price of what a beer or drink costs you. Well above the average price, but then again what would you expect from Sydney’s most sophisticated drinking spot? The crowd at the Ivy bar is nothing short of a social explosion. You’ll find your international explorers, your eighteen year old wannabees and you’re creepy 40 yr old men. Oh, don’t forget the seriously rude security.

If you want to check out upstairs then join the rest of the crowd and line up like lambs to the slaughter. Hold on tight to your friends hand and be ready to stampede every time the security allows another group up. While you’re waiting to go upstairs you’ll no doubt be showered by a fine mist coming from the roof. A seriously strange concept and one that’s not practical for your girlie girl who’s spent 2 hours doing their hair. Lucky for me I relished in the fact and probably agreed with the roof that I might need a shower after so many sweaty bodies had touched me.

If this sounds a bit less like your scene then head back out and visit the other building. You’ll be met with clipboard holding door bitches but if you dress well enough or act like you know where you’re going then do doubt you’ll be fine. The pool club is such a beautiful area and its relaxed vibe and open environment feel like heaven after the Ivy bar. You never know who you’ll meet up there and hopefully you’ll get to witness some drunken fools jumping into the pool to cool down. The crowd is Sydney’s elite, everyone that’s anyone has been to the Pool Club once in their lifetime. It’s full of sophisticated upper class mixed with a whole lot of stragglers and groupies but it’s the best fun I’ve had in a long time.

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A 4th Review of Ivy Bar

Review By Farbod Aria

The Ivy is a haven of progressive house, keeping club patrons captivated by the beat and mesmerised by its social utopia of class and style. The main DJ set mimics that of a festival in Ibiza, with lasers and surround sound stimulates an ‘eargasm’. The venue’s design permeates an aura of the Playboy Mansion, which really enhances the party atmosphere while preserving a high degree of prestige. Sydney’s social elite are drawn to this place as a result. The male to female ratio is impressive; a perfect equilibrium to allow for a night of flirting and mingling.

What really makes this club unique is its outdoor pool that also has a DJ and two bars of its own. So when you’re in need of fresh air but still want to enjoy the atmosphere of music and dancing, the Ivy Pool is an ideal spot. There is a large security presence scattered all over, to guarantee safety and stability. The sitting area above the main floor is vast and it offers privacy for those who wish to remain in their own social circles. The imported couches are not only comfortable but prove to be a desirable spot to socialise without the intensity of a crowded dance floor. There are bars in every corner, so there is easy access to the surprisingly low priced drinks and cocktails.

Despite its many positives, there is a downside. Getting in with a group of all males is a hard task, as the club likes to uphold its well-known gender ratio. So it is not ideal for an unplanned night out with ‘the boys’. One can also get lost in the sheer grandeur and size of the place, so losing people is a commonality. All in all, Ivy is ideal for those wanting captivating music, meeting interesting people and feeling sexy and classy while doing it.

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