The newly minted Sydney Light Rail is not designed for those in a hurry. Downtown Sydney is quiet for a Friday morning and my sleek transport deposits me in George St. A short stroll later and I’m gobsmacked by the sight of my home for the night – Novotel Sydney Darling Square. Artist Adnate’s mural of First Nations activist Jenny Munro faces Harbour St, and the 10-storey tall ‘portrait’ dominates and blesses the cityscape with a sense of peace. I soon find that peace (and quiet) is very much part of this hotel’s DNA.
Remarkably the Novotel Darling Square is in the CBD and somehow removed from all of Sydney’s clamour and bustle. The Darling Square precinct connects Darling Harbour, Haymarket (Chinatown) and Ultimo. Open your blinds at night to the International Convention Centre and the Sofitel – they make for a glittering nightlight.
The neighbours include all the new kids on the block: – Kenzo Kuma’s architectural masterpiece contains a City Of Sydney library and a hub for start-ups. On the ground floor of the Exchange is the decidedly cool Maker’s Dozen food hall and bar. Wrapped in 20 kilometres of sustainable Accoya timber, this striking building is fast earning icon status in a city that’s already home to an icon or three.
Steam Mill Lane is billed as Sydney’s largest little laneway with eateries like Melbourne favourite Belle’s Hot Chicken and also the very neon Bang Bang, Kabukicho-styled Japanese whisky and craft beer bar.
Arriving early I’m happy to check-in immediately on a floor lower rather than my allotted but not quite ready room. Check-in is breezily efficient and super-friendly. The lobby is welcoming and cosy for a hotel with 230 rooms. Wining and dining space Ps Wine overlooks the lobby with three gold ‘bookshelves’ that hold a mighty fine collection of spirits. Through the rainbow of bottles, I can peer at Pier St Grill – where my breakfast will be served, tomorrow.
A $20 million refurbish has upped the luxury across the rooms and public spaces. My King Deluxe room is blissfully quiet and surprisingly spacious. Tan leather desk chair matches the bed head, with the thoughtful inclusion of armchair if you choose not to watch TV in bed. Plush bathrobes and slippers make a night in seem very attractive.
Taking in the view and I spot a Darling Harbour’s bypass. But, I can’t hear it. At eye level is the Chinese Garden of Friendship’s lush green. Solitude magically leapfrogs the expressway. Willows and traditional temple structures are stately and lend an additional layer of tranquility.
Bathroom fit out is minimalist with black steel framing & deep forest green subway tile. Alas, the make-up mirror doesn’t come with in-built light. But the main bathroom mirror is not playing back-up here. It shines halo-like. So many hotels don’t get bathroom lighting right, so this is a very big tick.
Choice of a rain shower or traditional hand-held showerhead is a bonus.
If staying in is more your thing, you can and still hit one of Sydney’s first microbreweries. Clever design allows for direct access to Pumphouse Sydney from the Novotel Darling Square.
Dating back to 1891, the brewhouse was a pumping station for the Sydney & Suburban Hydraulic Power Company. The Tank Stream Brewing Company ensures there are over sixty different craft and premium beers on offer.
There might be ‘Big Ass’ fans but what about these awesome ‘big ass’ lights. Sandblasted walls and neon signs let you know this is no suburban boozer. It is a city bar with a great menu but no pretension. It’s pinballs and pool tables in a historic, rescued building.
Pub nosh is taken up a notch. A menu that partners well with an icy ale or lager. Should it be Kansas City Corn, Mac & Cheese Croquettes or a Schnitty? Instead, I go for a Wagyu Beef & Bacon Cheeseburger with chips, complete with tomato relish, pickles, lettuce, tomato, American Cheese and caramelised onions. My lightly charred burger is the perfect ratio of meat to salad and lightly toasted bun. Not a beer drinker? The wine list includes Dal Zotto prosecco and Australian, New Zealand, US and French selections. And boy do some of those cocktails look pretty.
Novotel Sydney Darling Square punches way above its weight in the accommodation stakes. The location is second to none. Ideal for long days at the International Convention Centre when all you want at the end of the day is a fabulous shower, a great burger and an early night. Without street noise or clamouring traffic, you’ll sleep contentedly.
Maybe a weekend of shopping and cocktails is the plan? Or if sightseeing is on the cards, you’re a stroll away from Centrepoint Tower’s dizzying heights to the world’s most stunning harbour.
Put the Novotel Sydney Darling Square at the top of your list for your next Sydney staycation or a break in the Harbour City. You won’t be disappointed.
TML was a guest of Novotel Sydney Darling Square.