Inside Sydney's Darling Harbour new luxury hotel
There's a new hotel welcoming its visitors in Sydney’s iconic Darling Harbour. It is also the city's first international luxury hotel built since the 2000 Olympics. Of recent years, you could describe Sydney’s current hotel scene as slow, tired, or mediocre at best. Popular choices such as QT Sydney or Sheraton on the Park are in dire need of a shake-up.
Back to the hotel - this is definitely good news! Enter Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, a stunning 35-storey building overlooking the sparkling waters of Sydney’s food and entertainment precinct. At night, the hotel enlivens the area with thousands of LED lights. On any given day, the Darling Harbour boardwalk is filled with children padding along with ice cream cones, lovers locked in an endless embrace, athletes jogging along the deep blue water, and tourists flitting around in wide-eyed wonderment.
But enter the swanky lobby of the $500 million Sofitel, which only opened in November last year, and the scene is dramatically different. Designed by renowned Sydney architect Richard Francis-Jones, the lobby is an impressive open space, furnished with accents of marble, wood, and gold. Well-dressed individuals are hanging around, gathering in the elegant Esprit Noir lobby bar for an afternoon cocktail. It's as posh as the finest in Asia would have it, with a team of warm, friendly individuals running the show.
The hotel's public spaces and guest rooms pay tribute to its maritime location with its usage of timber, rope, and sandstone motifs in the carpet. Being French, every Sofitel around the world is culturally linked with a city or region in France that shares similar attributes in terms of culture, landscape, and design. In the case of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, its waterside sophistication resembles the port city of Marseille.
Catering to the needs of a modern-day traveler, all your lighting, curtain, and air-conditioning controls are done via a touch pad on each bedside. Dive into your king-sized bed, and you won't be getting up for awhile. The other very Instagramable thing in your room worth a mention is the bathroom. In luxury rooms there are freestanding bathtubs perched in the middle of the bathroom, complete with Lanvin soap and other amenities, practically begs you in. If you think that was climactic, your potty is a glorified throne facing blue skies and a pristine city skyline - the experience is truly life-changing.
The 20-metre infinity pool on level 4 awaits you if you are ready for a swim - the deck chairs are at your disposal and uplifting, beach tunes resound alongside the sound of cocktail shakers. On a perfect Sydney day, with the sun gods beating joyously down on the property, the vibes are unrivalled.
Where food is concerned, the hotel's signature restaurant is decidedly French. Atelier by Sofitel on level 3 boasts a French-inspired rotisserie and grill, serving up excellent seasonal produce combined with the culinary techniques that flaunt the origin of Sofitel's French heritage. Executive chef Matt Coates, formerly of Melbourne's Crown Casino, is known for his generous portion sizes, so order wisely or be prepared to share.
What's left then is to get yourself over there. Some of the world's best beaches and surfs, beautiful friendly people and this remarkable new hotel are waiting.