Sydney’s first newly built luxury hotel in twenty years occupies prime waterfront location right next door to the new International Convention Centre. With a flashy glass exterior, wraparound harbor views, designer décor, restaurant and bar, this hotel has made Darling Harbour a whole lot more stylish. Purpose built to co-exist with the brand new International Convention Centre, it occupies a premier waterfront spot.
The glass exterior and triangular accent make for an impressive façade. In the lobby, the color palette is ochre and blue — a nod to Australia’s indigenous heritage — and dotted with colorful armchairs and comfortable booths. The soaring glass walls allow streams of natural light through and the atmosphere is bright and relaxing. Don’t be alarmed when you are greeted in French — Sofitel, and its parent company Accor, are a French brand. The service is gentle, unobtrusive yet helpful at dinner, and sleek and prompt at the reception.
Darling Harbour is Sydney’s tourist precinct and has a wildlife zoo and aquarium as well as many restaurants and bars. The best places to eat and drink are in Barangaroo, Sydney’s newest public park and dining precinct. Located just across the footbridge, it’s a destination flocked to by both tourists and Sydneysiders.
Guests staying on floors 27-34 also have access to Club Millesime Lounge on the top floor of the hotel. Breakfast, light snacks, canapés, and drinks are served throughout the day and there is an express check in and check out service here too. The rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows to show off the views; Sydney really is a minx on a bright and sunny day. Tastefully decorated with soft furnishings in dark hues, Mid-Century armchairs, and copper lights, it’s an impressive fit-out, paired back and sleek. The bed is king-sized and comfortable, and there is a pillow menu. A Nespresso machine and tea by luxury French brand TWG are a real treat; the tea bags are 100% cotton and hand sewn.
The highlight is the bathroom. A large, standalone tub takes pride of place in the center of the room. There are twin basins, and a comprehensive range of amenities by Hermes. The enormous shower recess has twin overhead rain showers. The only niggle is the television in the bathroom. It’s a thoughtful touch, but, after twenty minutes of fiddling with the remote, and trying to drape a towel over the screen, I had to accept that it would remain on all night, sending a shaft of blue light through the glass bathroom doors and into the bedroom.
There is a gym, cutely named ‘SoFit’ on level 4, where guests are provided with towels and water. Also on this level is the twenty-meter infinity pool and Le Rivage bar. Overlooking Darling Harbour and the Central Business District beyond, it’s an ideal place for an invigorating swim first thing in the morning or for long afternoons lounging, cocktail in hand. Valet car parking is offered but at a somewhat steep 80 Australian Dollars.
Atelier, the hotels’ signature restaurant, is a French-inspired rotisserie and grill with three open kitchens. An entrée of chicken liver pâté was complemented well by toasted brioche, caper berries, pickled green chilies, pickled cherries, quince chutney, and toasted walnuts. Be advised that the Tomahawk steak is Flinstonian in size; it’s listed as a meal for two but it could easily feed four. The wine list has an interesting selection and is good value for money; these are Sydney pub prices, not international hotel-chain prices.
Champagne Bar is an elegant space with beautiful harbor views and over fifty champagnes to choose from.
Breakfast is a full buffet with three stations. There is a bakery station with a wide selection of bread including many gluten-free options, a fresh fruit and pastry station and a hot food area with omelets made to order. There is also a juice machine with an array of fresh fruit and vegetables for guests to create their own.
Double rooms from 499 Australian Dollars (£281) in low season; and from 549 Australian Dollars (£309) in high. Breakfast excluded, charged at 40 Australian Dollars (£22). Free Wi-Fi. There are 20 Superior King rooms and two Junior Suites with Darling Harbour views. All are spacious with large accessible bathrooms, stainless steel grab rails, and lower bathroom sinks. The wardrobe has the option of lower clothes hangers. Strollers available for hire; high chairs, cots, and infant bathtubs are no extra charge. Rollaway beds are free of charge for children under the age of 12 and charged at 120 Australian Dollars (£67) per night for those older.