There's a new kid on the block in Sydney — and it's the city's first international luxury hotel build since the 2000 Olympics. Of recent years, you'd describe Sydney's current hotel scene as tired — or mediocre at best. Popular choices such as QT Sydney or Sheraton on the Park are in dire need of a shake-up.
So, this is 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 chock-a-block with children padding along with ice cream cones, lovers locked in an endless embrace, and tourists flitting around in wide-eyed wonderment. But waltz into 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 a veritably impressive start, furnished with accents of marble, wood, and gold. Well-heeled individuals mill around the space or gather in the elegant Esprit Noir lobby bar for an afternoon tipple. It's as posh as the finest in Asia would have it, with a team of warm, affable folk running the show. The hotel's public spaces and guestrooms 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 lends resemblance to the port city of Marseille.
When it comes to the 590 guestrooms, expect a view that will make you want to forget seeing Sydney from any other vantage point. With floor-to-ceiling windows offering liberal amounts of natural light and the glittering harbour view below, it won't take much for you to park yourself on a chaise longue and get trigger happy on the photo taking. Riding on the needs of a modern-day traveler, all your lighting, curtain, and air-conditoning controls are done via a touch pad on each bedside. Dive into your king-sized Sofitel MyBed and you won't be getting up for awhile.
The other thing in your room worth a mention — and probably an Instagram — is the bathroom. In our Luxury Corner Room, a freestanding bathtub perched in the middle of the bathroom — complete with Lanvin soap and other amenities, it practically begged us in. If you think that was climactic, your potty is a glorified throne facing blue skies and a pristine city skyline. Believe us, it was life-changing.
Ready for a swim? Head down to the 20-metre infinity pool on level 4, where deck chairs are at your disposal (if you're lucky) and uplifting, beachy 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, avocado toasts, and this remarkable new hotel are waiting.
For more information or to book a stay, visit Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.