Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour
Right on Sydney's Darling Harbour, just a short walk across the Pyrmont Bridge from the CBD. The Novotel is adjacent to the Harbourside Shopping Centre and the International Convention Centre. Darling Harbour is a popular spot for festivals and events in Sydney, and I'm greeted by a fireworks display outside my window, literally as I enter the room after checking in.
The Novotel is one of Sydney's largest and most popular hotels, with 525 rooms across 10 floors along with a large restaurant, pool, gym and tennis court. Despite its size, there is only one restaurant on site, though it's a sufficiently large one to meet the needs of guests (see below).
Guests access the hotel through a small ground-level entryway that leads to lifts and escalators up to the foyer. The foyer on level one is a busy place, which can mean queuing for the check-in desk during peak times, but staff are friendly and efficient. There are also large touchscreens here where guests can access information about the hotel. The Novotel also offers a "virtual concierge" service, which can be accessed by a dedicated phone app.
My room doesn't offer any particularly stylish flourishes, but it has everything one needs. There's a small desk, easy chair, queen-size bed, flat-screen TV and adequate wardrobe and luggage storage. My east-facing room offers nice views of Darling Harbour.
The bathroom is similarly built for function not form, with the light wood finish of the room furnishings continuing along the base of the sink. The shower is over the bath with a glass-half screen. A couple of minor dints and cracks indicate this particular bathroom could use a little TLC.
The first-floor restaurant, the Tenary, is a large, open space open for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is an extensive buffet affair, while the dinner offers the restaurant's "Three Pillars: The Grill Kitchen, Asian Kitchen and the Wine Bar. The selection of a la carte dishes is huge, with the Asian kitchen offering cuisines from south and south-east Asia, as well as China and Japan, while the Grill menu is a steak-focused affair. I opted for kingfish sashimi and tandoori lamb cutlets. Although the menu itself says the dishes are designed for sharing, solo business travellers such as myself can sit at the bench circling the kitchen. The chefs are friendly and will happily make conversation as they prepare their dishes.
The Novotel is not flashy, but it's in a fine location and offers a comfortable stay for visitors in Sydney on business or pleasure.
Rooms at the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour start from $279 a night. See www.novoteldarlingharbour.com.au