Bars and Nightclubs
Sydney CBD, Sydney

The Retro

81 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW
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Ideally located in the heart of Sydney’s vibrant nightlife, nightclub, bar and restaurant district. The Retro combines fun, lively entertainment and fantastic service to deliver the best in hospitality and entertainment. With its restaurant, 7 bars and rooftop terrace with views, The Retro is the perfect place to party.

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Retro Hotel Review

Review by Shauna O’Carroll

If you are looking for a night out of old tunes, wacky dancing and the weirdest outfits seen this side of Sydney, then Bistro Arms Hotel (or simply known as the Retro) is the place to be.

Located only a stones throw from Wynyard station this hotel has 5 levels to satisfy the music taste of any individual no matter what the era.
Retro is famous for its themed Friday and Saturday nights, and these are definitely the best nights to head in to this joint.

If you are not in the mood for dressing up and just want to dance make sure to get there by 9pm for free entry. Having a costume will ensure you free entry all night but without one you will have to pay the entry fee which is $10 on Friday and $20 on Saturday. People actually do dress up and it is great fun to check out all the crazy costumes so make sure you join in.

The basement level is where you can get a good feed and knock out some tunes yourself with karaoke.

The next level Party Central has a huge bar that has 4 screens showing the latest sporting events. The music on this level has a wide variety to dance and chill to and the smoke machine gets a party atmosphere happening.

This level is the only one available until about 10pm and can get very packed, so if you are not a fan of crowds it is probably best to wait until later to drop in.

The Pure Retro level is the disco level that plays all the golden oldies from the 70s and 80s and has some interesting psychodelic décor that boggles the mind after a few drinks. Also the bartenders are very creative on this level and will attempt to create drinks not on the menu for you.

The Old Skool bar (my absolute favourite) plays all the tunes from the 90s; you will definitely hear some Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and Aqua tunes! This level is where you will find all the hens’ night ladies dancing away and going crazy.

The Rooftop Terrace has a great view of the city skyline and is good for functions.

The drink prices are fairly standard for a club in the city and the club is large on each level so it is definitely a good place for big group. Every time I have been there it is a mix of people from young to old, which definitely keeps it fresh.

This isn’t a club you could go to every week, the music can get repetitive as do the themes they have each weekend.

But it is a great place to have a few drinks, dance to some new and old tunes and have a laugh dressing up.

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A Second Review of Retro Hotel

Review by Ben King

Situated in what can only be described as no man’s land between King’s Street Wharf and George Street lives a venue that will take you back in time. That venue is The Retro and has been the destination of choice for ’70s and ’80s music enthusiasts since forever (well at least the ’70s or ’80s). The Bristol Arms Hotel (or simply the Retro) is frequented by Sydney’s 30+ crowd looking for a great night out.

With about 5 floors to choose from (this is an approximation and I’ll explain why in a second), the Retro has something for everyone, whether it be the live music venue with authentic sticky carpet, the rooftop terrace, the pool tables or the regular fancy dress nights, the Retro has something for everyone.

As with many refitted pubs, the Retro requires you to leave your pretentiousness at the door… you’ve been warned. As you would expect from a venue with 7 bars, the Retro is a place you go to if you want to have “a drink”. Although the Retro runs regular events and specials throughout the week, mainly for the overworked office staff that surround the Retro, the place comes to life Friday and Saturday. With rooms such as Old Skool and Party Central it is no wonder this is one of the most popular clubs in Sydney that continues to thrive with a dedicated group of loyal patrons.

Another thing that might interest you if you are heading to the Retro is the plethora of Hen’s Nights held here. (I’d say every time I’ve been here I’ve been witness to the crazy antics of women celebrating the soon to be marriage of one of their group). Needless to say, this is fantastic side entertainment to what is inevitably an interesting night out, as all nights are when they centre on the Retro Hotel.

Lastly, a little bit of advice from a seasoned professional. If you do decide to call it a night at 3am, and are struggling to find a taxi, all you do is walk down Sussex street to the Slip Inn as this is one of the few places you will be able to get a taxi at 3am in the morning.

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A Third Review of Retro Hotel

Review by Nicky Bentley

Traveling back in time and reliving the glory days is often a dream, or a rather deluded fantasy of many. Imagine a place where you can truly enter a nostalgic realm of being. Whether it be dancing to your favourite song during the ’80s, or singing that song you dedicated to your primary school crush, who you swore you would love forever.

Welcome to the Retro Hotel.

When embarking on a night out in Sydney’s colourful nightclub scene, one will always venture toward the more fashionable areas such as Oxford and George Street. But how many of these clubs and bars would be caught dead playing un-remixed, old school artists such as the Spice Girls, Backstreet boys, and dare I even say, Sonny and Cher? None at all, I would assume. And we all know that’s what we secretly want to dance to anyway.

Despite the heavy focus on old school music, this place literally holds no age restriction. The crowd ranges from 18 to a very questionable 50+, and many of the latter are happily dressed as the former. But hey, at the Retro hotel, anything goes!

The bar tends to be most popular on Friday and Saturday nights, with free entry until 10pm. The venue boasts a refreshing change from the standard “packed into a tuna can” crowd, by allowing for enough space throughout the venue, so that partygoers can dance freely without losing an eye.

The venue has five levels in total, each united by their common retro theme of glow sticks, darkness and alcohol. The top level even features a ‘larger than life’, all access chalkboard – a drunken party girl’s dream!

Each level is themed according to music decade in descending order. So if you’re really into some golden oldies, be prepared for some light cardio, because this place definitely isn’t short on stairs.

What really makes this place unique is its informal atmosphere. Alongside the famous dress-up theme nights, which grants free entry to participants, the club provides fairly reasonable drink prices ranging from $5 for specials, to $20 for the premiums – a refreshing change from the usual heavily inflated CBD prices.

But if buying alcohol isn’t on your weekend budget (plan properly next time), don’t sweat it – plenty of friendly faces around the place will pick up the tab for you, in exchange for an unpredictable, and rather goofy dance! Trust me, this is definitely not the venue that one would judge you for pulling out your true moves on the dance floor.

The Retro Hotel is definitely a great place to go if you are seeking a silly, nostalgic night out. I feel like nothing would do a trip down memory lane more justice than belting out some NSYNC tunes with a nice cocktail on hand…or two.

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