Convention delegates, corporates mid-week and staycation couples and babymooners on weekends.
With Sydney preening and posing outside and Sofitel’s self-assured style inside, this newcomer to Darling Harbour is yin and yang wrapped in a tower of glass. It applies to the guests, too. Turn up on Tuesday, and this 590-room hotel is a sea of suits; arrive on Saturday and you could be blinded by lurid board shorts, which pretty much reflects its position right next to the city’s newest show-off, the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, and smack bang in the middle of the harbour city’s most popular tourist attractions. Hint: follow the board shorts; they’ll lead you to an infinity pool and resort-style poolside bar.
Just back from the banks of Darling Harbour and across the briny from Cockle Bay Wharf. It’s a pleasant ten-minute walk from the CBD (more pleasant when redevelopment work in the area is complete) and roughly half an hour by taxi from the airport.
In an era of shrinking hotel rooms, this place is old-school. The smallest here – the Superior Room – is 35-square-metres, dressed, as they all are, in soothing earth tones. The next leap in size is to the Junior Suite at 49-square metres, which has a freestanding bath with one of the best views in Sydney (Luxury rooms, and suites from level 28 and above come with complimentary access to the top-floor Millésime Club). Bathrooms are glam and spacious, with another telly in the suites. Curtains, lights and aircon are controlled by a touchpad on the wall so tricky you’ll yearn for the days of basic switches. Junior Suites have a walk-in wardrobe with the thoughtful touch of a yoga mat and 1kg weights.
Food and drink
Atelier by Sofitel, the hotel’s vast (and only) dining room, is corralled by gleaming glass cabinets of wine and anchored by a large, central, open kitchen. The menu isn’t extensive – the cuisine is described as ‘bistronomy’, which seems to mean a fairly relaxed and friendly eatery plating up French-inspired dishes with a local flavour, including flame-licked steaks, heaving seafood platters and triple-cooked pommes frites. There are three bars, including the one by the pool and Sydney’s only hotel champagne bar, offering 20 different varieties from smaller houses such as Canard-Duchene through to Pommery and Louis Roederer.
For business travellers
There’s a 24-hour business centre on level one with computers and printing facilities. Ten AV-equipped meeting rooms are available, ranging up to 500 square metres and a maximum capacity of 450. Wifi is free for all guests for two hours a day; $10 a day will buy you unlimited data at 50mbps, $20 a day delivers unlimited data at high speed. Club Millésime members get unlimited data at 50mbps. Need your shoes shined? That’s part of the friendly service.
For wellness travellers
There’s currently no spa at the hotel, but level four is fitness (and fun) central, with an infinity pool and SoFit, a 24-hour gym that makes the most of those stellar views. Or you can run around Darling Harbour to Barangaroo headland, Sydney’s newest harbour foreshore park.
The fab factor
Fancy a three-litre Jeroboam of Cristal Brut? Head to the Champagne Bar with $22,000 (go ahead and order; we’ll be right there).
Number of rooms: 590, including 35 suites
Rates from: $499
Wi-fi: Free for two hours. Unlimited for Club Millésime members
Parking: Valet parking at $79 per car per day
Address: 12 Darling Drive, Sydney
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