HOW’S THIS FOR A VIEW, DARLING
Sydney has a reputation for being our “shiny” city – there’s always something sparkling. By day it’s the blue green hues of the harbour. At dusk, the glow of cruise liners and high-rise buildings dance along the skyline. And when Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opened its flashy new $500m luxury hotel last month, it injected some razzle dazzle back into this tourist precinct.
The hotel is a fitting addition to the harbour, located conveniently at the doorstep of Sydney’s new International Convention Centre and Harbourside Shopping Centre. While other luxury hotels cemented their stake in Circular Quay, SSDH is one of the first to provide unrivalled views of Darling Harbour, Sydney’s CBD and Botany Bay, especially from the hotel’s top floor.
SSDH general manager Greg Brady said the addition was long overdue. “I think Darling Harbour has been a real future development hub and the Sofitel is necessary to support that growth,” he said. “This view is like you’re looking into the city, like Hong Kong.”
JOIN THE CLUB
You could lose a day drinking in the views from the hotel’s Club Millesime Lounge, perched on the hotel’s top floor. Pre-dinner cocktails and canapés include curry puffs, croquettes, rice paper rolls, sushi and pies. Wait staff are attentive and quick to replenish wine glasses. Buckets of Champagne scattered around are free pour, but if you ask you can try a red or white from the cabinet.
In the morning, a cooked and continental breakfast keeps hunger at bay. Bacon and eggs with all the trimmings, cheese, salad, cereal, toast and a spread of freshly baked pastries.
After check-in, head to Le Rivage Pool Bar on level 4 where the sunshine, music and sounds of cocktail shakers give off beach resort vibes that make you forget you’re in the city.
After a formal dining space? Head downstairs to French-inspired rotisserie and grill Atelier by Sofitel. Executive chef Matt Coates, formerly of Melbourne’s Crown Casino, serves contemporary French cuisine.
Have a cheeky drink at Esprit Noir or the hotel’s Champagne Bar beforehand. It’s the largest bar of its kind in Sydney, serving the special 2009 Louis Roederer Champagne in collaboration with artist Phillipe Starck. The more adventurous can splurge on a 24 carat gold-dipped, three-litre Jeroboam of Cristal Brut costing a cool $22,000.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS
The hotel’s French touch doesn’t stop at the cuisine – every Sofitel around the world is culturally linked with a city or region in France that shares similar cultural attributes.
Darling Harbour takes its inspiration from port city Marseilles, in the south of France, which translates in the architecture, interior and fittings. The entrance sees wispy white rope, jellyfish-like lamps and framed prints of beachside happy snaps, and the nautical theme continues in our Junior Club Suite.
Everything we need is literally within reach. Touch pads on each bedside allow us to open and close the curtains, dim the lights and adjust the aircon. There are even USB ports on each bedside, perfect if you’ve forgotten your phone charger.
Convenient in theory, the bedside touchpads were a tad sensitive, lighting up at the slightest movement.
The hotel oozes elegance in its golden trimmings, marble floor and glass panelling. Even the Grohe bathroom fittings resemble the Sofitel’s “o” motif.
SOFITEL SYDNEY DARLING HARBOUR
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is a 20-minute drive (13km) from Sydney Domestic and International Airport, which costs about $40.
Rates start at $499 a room a night. Guests on levels 28 and above can enjoy club access.