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  >  Destinations   >  Australia   >  Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour review

I got a big surprise when I stayed at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. This five star hotel is definitely not just for conference delegates. In fact, it’s the perfect Sydney hotel for a romantic getaway. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Darling Harbour and the city and – if you feel like splurging – suites have an in-bathroom television, double shower heads and luxurious soaking tubs for the ultimate pampering experience.

I was attending a conference and didn’t have time to dive into the rooftop infinity pool, enjoy a soak in my room’s deep bathtub or try the chic Atelier restaurant. What I thought was a ‘conference hotel’ turned out to be extremely luxurious and romantic. There was just one problem. I had a plush five star room with a bathtub big enough for two but no partner to share them with as my husband was back in Brisbane.

If you time your stay for when there isn’t a major event at the International Convention Centre, you can pick up one of these plush five star hotel rooms for a great price. While the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour doesn’t have the iconic Harbour Bridge view many travellers associate with Sydney, the hotel’s outlook over Darling Harbour is very pretty indeed, especially with the morning sunlight hitting the water. 

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

Every Sofitel is culturally linked with a city or region in France. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is linked with Marseille which seems fitting given both cities have iconic harbours and were once bustling industrial ports. The cultural link is featured in artworks throughout the hotel such as rope sculptures reminiscent of fishing nets hanging from the ceiling in the lobby and modern depictions of waves on a beach in the lifts.

With soft colours of white, taupe and aubergine, the rooms at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour are sleekly modern without being austere. While you might be tempted to pay to upgrade to a Junior Suite for a special occasion, the flow-through design of the more affordable Luxury Corner Rooms gets my vote for a romantic getaway. This makes the room feel larger and you can pull back the sliding bathroom door to reveal 180 degree views.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Luxury Corner Darling Harbour View Room
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Allow time to enjoy the tub

King Bed Superior Rooms have a daybed that is the perfect spot for reading and enjoying the view but the deep bathtub is tucked further back inside the room which means you don’t get such a good view from the bath. I enjoyed the daybed during my solo visit as I love reading. All of the rooms are lovely but in general, the more expensive ones come with a better view.

King Bed Superior Room Sofitel Darling Harbour
King Bed Superior Room at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
The bathtub is further back in King Bed Superior Rooms

If you’re staying in a Darling Harbour view room, the lights from a nearby ferris wheel and the CBD shimmer prettily in the distance and you can look down and watch the action along the Darling Harbour foreshore. In the morning, blackout curtains ensure Sydney’s bright sunlight doesn’t disturb your slumber. There is also the option to upgrade to a room with access to Club Millesime, the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour Club Lounge.

Club Millésime offers an even better view and includes extras such as private check in and check out, all day refreshments and canapes and drinks served nightly. Breakfast is a serene affair with an a la carte menu featuring dishes such as eggs Benedict. There is also an extensive continental selection and barista coffees available at no extra charge.

Eggs Benedict cooked to order at Club Millesime

In the evening, a selection of cheeses, meats, and other charcuterie is available to enjoy with drinks and superb views of Darling Harbour and its surrounding waterways. With its sparkling city views, Club Millesime is a lovely spot to unwind at any time of day. I would definitely consider upgrading to the club if I returned to the hotel, especially if the stay was to celebrate a special occasion.

Breakfast at Club Millésime
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Club Millesime by day

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Sunset drinks at Club Milesime at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Sunset drinks at Club Millesime
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Evening view from Club Millesime

The impressively large infinity pool at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is one of the nicest hotel swimming pools in Sydney, with a dedicated bar called La Rivage and plenty of Instaworthy photo opportunities. La Rivage is usually only open from Friday to Sunday but you can access the pool from 6am to 10am daily. Sunset is especially pretty but, really, any time is a good time to enjoy this pool.

If you would prefer to workout in the great outdoors instead of at the hotel gym, the pool at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is large enough for swimming laps and has plenty of room to accommodate a number of lap swimmers at the same time. Make sure you enjoy the pool while you are in-house as, unlike other hotels, you can’t access it before you check-in or after you check-out.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour infinity pool
Infinity pool at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

One evening I joined some colleagues for a drink at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s Champagne Bar. If you enjoy Champagne but don’t necessarily want to splash out on a whole bottle, the Champagne Bar at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is for you. Order a glass of Pommery, Veuve Clicquot, Canard-Duchêne, Taittinger, Heidsieck & Co Monopole Gold Top or Taittinger Rose and enjoy the view.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour champagne bar
Champagne Bar

There’s a daily happy hour from 5pm to 7am when you can enjoy $12 Cocktails, $8 De Bortoli Wines, $11 Spirits, $5 Beers and $19 Champagne. If you feel like ordering a bottle of Champagne, the sky is the limit with plenty of rare bottles available including a few costing upwards of $22K each. Thankfully there are plenty of more modest options available as well.

While the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour is particularly convenient for those attending trade or business events, this hotel is equally good for a romantic getaway with someone special. If you stay during the week, you will likely have the gorgeous infinity pool and hotel facilities such as Club Millesime all to yourself during the day as the corporate guests will either be at the office or attending events.

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour and highly recommends allowing time in your schedule to enjoy a dip in that gorgeous pool. Next time!

If you’re looking for some fun Sydney things to do while you’re in town, take a ride on Thunder Jet, join a Sydney street art tour or check out our 10 things to do in Sydney.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.