Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
Overlooking Darling Harbour, towards the CBD, the hotel is conveniently located adjacent to the new International Convention Centre. It's a short walk across the Pyrmont Bridge to the city, while the Harbourside Shopping Centre is on your doorstep.
The Sofitel became the first new-build five-star hotel to arrive in Sydney since before the city hosted the Olympics and its owners, Accor, have certainly made the most of the opportunity to create a property from scratch. The 35-floor, 590-room tower is now Darling Harbour's tallest building.
The facilities make the most of the location, with the hotel's champagne bar and restaurant offering views across the harbour to the city, as does the impressive infinity pool on the fourth floor - a spot likely to become a favourite for photo shoots and Instagrams.
The Club Mill??sime on the top floor offers even better views, looking all the way up Darling Harbour and beyond. Canapes and drinks are served nightly for for guests staying in Club Sofitel rooms.
I'm in a junior suite - a large corner space with a dining/meeting table, a desk, a large couch and two armchairs. A wall unit is adorned with glass sculptures. And a huge flat screen TV. The bedroom is separate, with its own TV, a king-size bed and generous storage space.
Of course, for a five-star hotel there's the obligatory pillow menu, though I'm quite happy with the default options.
The bathroom is fabulous - a deep, freestanding tub with the toilet and double shower each with their own enclosed spaces. There's also a TV set into the wall. Hermes toiletries
The only issues are a couple of minor annoyances - the remote control for the bedroom TV is missing and, while there is tea and coffee making facilities, there is no milk or whitener to be found. Both require calls to guest services, who deliver the required items in reasonable time.
The hotel restaurant Atelier, is a large space (unsurprising given the number of rooms the hotel houses) offering a mix of share plates and individual mains. It's a mix of modern French and Australian. I opt for the salt cod brandade as an appetiser, which is tasty and light, and follow it with a main of crispy skin smoked duck breast. The latter is a rich, generous portion that I don't manage to finish despite how delicious it is. The rib eyes ordered by my companions are equally large and challenging to finish. Service, while friendly, is a little slow.
Breakfast is also served in the restaurant and is a diverse and high quality buffet.
Rather than just look out at the harbour, why not get out on it? There are a number of harbour cruise operators that depart from Darling Harbour and take in the highlights of waterside Sydney, including the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and as far out as the Sydney Heads where the harbour meets the ocean. The city's official tourism site, www.sydney.com, has details of numerous operators and cruise types.
With new hotels opening and expanding, Sydney is finally catching up to demand. The Sofitel Darling Harbour is an excellent addition to the city's accommodation landscape and will no doubt prove a hit with tourists and business travellers alike.
Rooms at the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour start from $499 per night, with junior suites from $879 per night.
The views from the rooms, pool or bar will impress any visitor to Sydney.
Service looks to still have a few teething problems.
Craig Platt stayed as a guest of the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.