Hitting the jackpot at the Star casino, without a single bet

At The Star casino on the edge of Sydney's Darling Harbour you can hit the jackpot without even touching a chip or a card.

Although gamblers are traditionally the main target demographic of a casino, at this sprawling property more and more tourists are viewing the complex's "add-ons" - a new five-star hotel, restaurants, meandering shopping arcades and nightclubs - as destinations in their own right.

Of course, the casino is the main drawcard for gamers and if you do happen to have a flutter and a win on baccarat or roulette there are some fantastic ways to dispose of your dosh.

Why not upgrade to the $15,000 a night penthouse at The Darling Hotel and Spa? Or pick up a $10,000 handbag at Bottega Veneta in the shopping arcade? Or try the $1,400 "decadent duo" couple's massage at The Spa?


The Darling is a glossy, sleek hotel that opened last October and would please the most pernickety of hotel guests.

The property, featuring 171 suites, an outdoor pool and a 16-room spa, is part of The Star's $870 million redevelopment and is located in an inverted glass tower that rests on a sandstone podium.

My Jewel suite (one step up from the entry level Darling rooms) is a spacious 70 square metres and boasts a lounge room with a giant flat-screen TV, an oversized bathroom with a generous array of Molton Brown products, a huge bathtub and a shower with a monsoon shower head, and a bedroom with a king-bed enveloped in 100 per cent pure Egyptian cotton sheets.

The Darling's general manager Drew Schlesinger says he took a very personal approach when choosing the beds for the hotel.

"I believe that the comfort of the sleep is the key element of a hotel stay, and you cannot afford to have any element of error," he says.

In his search for the perfect night's sleep for his guests, Schlesinger tried out several mattresses.

"I slept on eight mattress types altogether, and the final one we selected, which is unique to The Darling, is a combination of features from many of them."

Schlesinger says positive guest comments have been plentiful and many visitors to the hotel have purchased the beds.


- Chase Kojima's buzzy Japanese restaurant Sokyo, located in The Darling, serves up dishes that combine contemporary Japanese flavours with an Australian flair. Try an Australian lamb chop with a maple miso, for example, or a Moreton Bay Bug served with a burnt butter mayonnaise, passion fruit jelly and vegemite croutons.

- Teage Ezard's sophisticated restaurant Black, which overlooks the harbour, is an American steakhouse with a creative edge. The interior is a mix of wood, copper and leather and the menu ranges from steaks (the most expensive being the $95 striploin grainfed wagyu) to more provocative and challenging dishes, such as beef tartare with heirloom beets, mustard ice cream and puffed wild rice.

- Stefano Manfredi's Balla, a little piece of Milan with Sydney views, is another standout dining option at The Star. The restaurant takes its name from Giacomo Balla, one of the protagonists of the Italian futurist art movement. The food is fresh and creative and includes the likes of wood-grilled Yamba prawns with blood orange salad and pasta shells with pork sausage and Tuscan black cabbage.

- Momofuku Seiobo is David Chang's first Momofuku restaurant outside New York City. Named after the Japanese goddess of the West, it offers a tasting menu inspired by the best of Australia's fresh produce which changes with the seasons.

Also try: Taiwanese dumpling house Din Tai Fung and patissier Adriano Zumbo's sushi-style dessert train.


There's much to entertain here, from The Lyric Theatre shows (Legally Blonde is now playing) to shopping in boutiques such as Chanel, Gucci, Ferragamo, Calvin Klein Jeans and Bottega Veneta.



The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, Sydney (www.star.com.au)


The Darling is part of The Star (www.thedarling.com.au). Rooms start from $279 twin-share (Sundays to Thursdays) and $329 (Fridays and Saturdays), including two cocktails, breakfast for two and parking.

The writer was a guest of The Darling.