We have stayed a couple of times at the balmain Lodge on Darling St and had a great time.
This is kind of a Motel type thing with our room having a basic kitchen and an en suite bathroom, but not all of the rooms are the same, some have a shared bathroom and toilet etc.
We had a large balcony with chairs etc to sit on - but others have just a smallish balcony. Check with the guys what you are going to get.
There are some long term residents there who seem to keep the rooms cleaned and tidy instead of chambemaids.
The rooms are basic, clean and they work for the money you pay - if you are expecting luxury then stay at a 'branded ' hotel chain.
The management are just 100% excellent, friendly and helpful - booking on the internet is easy and safe - no worries there. Being on Darling St there are loads of buses direct to the city itself and anyway you can get a bus to the ferry at Balmain and go where you want i.e. Darling Harbour or Circular Quay.
Eating - tons of restaurants and cafes - something to match everyones tastes and budgets. Pubs everywhere - live music, good grub, just brilliant!
Balmain is a safe neighhbourhood and is kind of trendy - not the cheapest locale in Sydney but nice - there is even a smashing park you can take the family.
Loads of food shops and supermarkets within walking distance from the Balmain Lodge - newsagents, florists, take aways (the Wok on Inn is below the hotel so good cheap noodles below - cooked in front of you and to order).
Washing machines and driers are available - coin operated.
There is a small garden centre to the side of the Inn - with a Parakeet who is only vocal during the day. Inside the Inn itself there is a small courtyard that is really excellent for chilling out - exotic plants and seats make it a really pleasant area to read a book.
We had a great time - they are wifi enabled and its free but you have to stand outside to get it - so what, its part of the charm.
We have stayed a few times and will stay again. Hope this helps. Photos attached.
Trev and Bren