Sofitel Darling Harbour’s recent opening marks a significant milestone – it’s the first luxury hotel to open in Sydney in 18 years. With tourism booming, there are plenty more in the pipeline. Hilton will be opening its first Curio Collection hotel early next year, W Hotel in 2019, and Ritz Carlton in 2020 – and all of them will be within walking distance of Sofitel.
Being the first has its advantages – Sofitel is ideally located right next to the new International Convention Centre, and is only 15 minutes walk away from Sydney CBD and Chinatown. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and entertainment at the door. Interestingly, Sofitel is is also right next to Novotel and IBIS hotel, all operating under the Accor umbrella. Accor clearly has its sights on the entire spectrum of the market, with Sofitel taking care of the top end.
This hotel is the second Sofitel in Sydney and shouldn’t be confused with the older one – Sofitel Sydney Wentworth located on the other side of the CBD.
There are 590 rooms including 35 suites facing all directions. Room upgrades include an upgrade to luxury room (separate bathtub and in corner position), with darling harbour view or executive floor with lounge access. Not wanting to miss the harbour view, but also conscious of price, I booked a standard room with darling harbour view during Accor’s Private Sale at A$314 per night.
As a Gold Le Club AccorHotels member, I received:
- A complementary upgrade to Luxury Room with Darling Harbour view.
- Two drink vouchers.
- Late check-out.
Unfortunately, Le Club doesn’t have a free breakfast benefit and I found out buffet breakfast costs A$45 per person – regardless of whether staying at the hotel.
The room presentation is fantastic. Everything is brand new and well designed. Power ports are within easy reach on both sides of the bed. A light colour palette is consistent throughout the room and the bathroom, creating a bright and cheerful atmosphere. Floor-to-ceiling glass exude luxury and allows for plenty of sunlight. If the room was bigger, I could almost see myself living here.
The only issue I found with the TV remote had not been properly programmed for the TV, rending it practically useless. But I did do my duty as the room’s first guest to have this fixed. 😎
In-room amenity is quite comprehensive – includes fridge, mini-bar, coffee/tea, iron board and travel adapter. Dental kits and slippers are available on request. Bathroom features an overhead shower, with amenities by Lanvin.
WIFI is complementary for Le Club members, limited to 10mbps and to 3 simultaneous devices. When I tested in the afternoon, speed was at a respectable 8.48mbps. However, when I got back later at night, it had slowed to a crawl and I had trouble loading Accor’s own website. I suspect it’s due to congestion.
WIFI speed in the afternoon was OK
WIFI speed at night was much slower
Normally I would just add another photo to show the room view, but for this hotel, I think it deserves its own section. Put simply, the view is absolutely stunning. This is the kind of view that makes me wish I lived here (did I mention this already?).
In-room dining menu reads as below.
There’s an 20 meter ‘infinity pool’ located on level 4, alongside a gym and a poolside bar. The view would have been a lot better if it was on the roof, but I guess it wasn’t possible due to design or other constraints. The gym is well fitted with the latest equipment from Technogym. Treadmills, for example, all have YouTube streaming built in. Strangely, although towels and even apples are freely available, drinking water is nowhere to be found.
Other things to note include the lack of a spa facility, and valet parking costs an eye-watering A$79 per day.
Sofitel has only one full sized restaurant – Atelier By Sofitel – that takes care of all-day dining. As my package did not include breakfast, I went to check the food selection to see if it was worth spending A$45 per person. It was downright disappointing. By my count, there were only six hot dishes, limited to bacon, eggs and the like, with no other cuisines in sight. I felt breakfast was way overpriced for what it offered.
Overall Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour has some great things going for it – excellent rooms, nice facilities and nice friendly service. This is let down by various small issues here and there, most of which I suspect is due to the new opening and will be fixed in short order. What you do need to be aware of are the hard limitations – lack of spa facilities, limited hotel restaurants, expensive breakfast and valet parking. Other than that, I’d say you’ll have a fantastic stay at this hotel.