Once the home of tarnished factories and ship wharfs, Darling Harbour is one of Sydney’s great urban renewal successes – now a vibrant waterside precinct of bars, restaurants and casinos. With the Australian National Maritime Museum plus the Chinese Garden of Friendship hosting live events throughout the year, there’s little wonder some of the city’s most excellent hotels set up here. Read on to discover the best hotels Darling Harbour has to offer.
As Sydney’s sole holder of the most coveted award in global luxury travel – Forbes’ prestigious five-star rating – you can expect upscale accommodation at the The Darling. Luxurious rooms feature soaring views of the Harbour Bridge, CBD or neighbouring Pyrmont, as well as rainfall showers, designer bath products and a 1,000-spring king bed. The Star Casino’s bounty of restaurants, bars and full-service spa can be found downstairs.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Australian National Maritime Museum, Harbourside Shopping Centre and Star Casino, Novotel Sydney has entertainment on your doorstep for the duration of your stay. Onsite, you’ll find an outdoor pool, tennis courts and fitness centre, as well as smart televisions in every room and luxury King Koil bedding to spread out on. There’s also The Ternary restaurant, offering a fusion of Western and Asian cuisines, as well as premium service.
One of the most elegant hotels in Sydney, a stay at Sofitel Darling Harbour is guaranteed to impress. Its infinity pool boasts unparalleled views across both the harbour and city skyline. French luxury and sophistication pervades through its rooms and suites, whilst downstairs there is a champagne lounge to quaff Dom Perignon. Book dinner at the Atelier restaurant, a French-inspired grill serving up the freshest produce from across Sydney.
Looking for a glamorous casino hotel? Book the Star Grand. With its luxe furnishings, expansive pool overlooking the harbour, and contemporary art adorning its walls, it’s the best place to unwind in luxury before hitting the roulette wheel downstairs. Suites are designed for large groups or extended stays, ranging from one-bed studios to three-bed suites. Some of the harbour’s best drinking and dining options await below.
Geometric in design, both inside and out, there are few hotels quite as distinctive as West Hotel Sydney, which is situated cityside from Darling Harbour. Here, plush velvet fabrics in luxurious blues contrast with marble accents and lush greenery, offering a sense of sophistication to your stay. Its location also serves it well; tucked away in up-and-coming Barangaroo, the Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of New South Wales are both within easy walking distance.
Decadence and deluxe delights make their mark at this stunning Sydneyside hotel, which is situated in the old State Theatre building in the CBD. With a sumptuous king-size bed, rainfall shower and Kevin Murphy amenities in every room, rest assured that here, comfort is king. When you’re not busy exploring everything downtown Sydney and Darling Harbour has to offer, you’ll be treated like royalty at the spaQ – try the Weekend Warrior package with its coffee and sea kelp scrub, facial and massage.
One of Sydney’s most prominent historical landmarks, The Grace is a showpiece of 1920s neo-gothic architecture, with an art deco interior to match. In contrast, rooms are modern, with a complimentary mini bar as a luxury perk. Located a 15-minute walk from Darling Harbour, you’ll be able to take in more of Sydney’s sights on your way – the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Tower Eye are both nearby. Finish your day with a pint of Guinness at the onsite P.J. O’Briens Irish pub.
Towering over both Darling Harbour and the city centre, ParkRoyal is a four-minute walk from the bars and restaurants of Cockle Bay Wharf and the summertime hangout spot of Darling Quarter. Wake up to in-room tea and coffee amid views of the glittering skyline, and enjoy breakfast in bed courtesy of 24/7 room service. There are three restaurants at the hotel, plus a spa and gym, ideal for a weekend city.
If you’re looking for a five-star boutique hotel, book the Ovolo 1888. Occupying an old heritage building, all 90 rooms have an industrial chic feel with exposed brick walls and huge Roy Lichtenstein-inspired murals. They are snug, so opt for the King Deluxe if you want a little more space. Perks include in-room iPads, Apple TV and soaker tubs on request. There’s also 24/7 gym access, self-service laundry and free daily social hour for that much-needed sundowner.
Sports fans and beer lovers should make a beeline for The Dunkirk Hotel. The bar is the main focus here, serving a whopping 16 beers on tap, including VB, 150 Lashes and Kosciuszko, plus there are 21 TVs screening all the big games – it’s the best place to cheer on your team. Towering burgers oozing with cheese and loaded fries are served at the highly popular Inferno Grill. When you’re ready to crash, head upstairs to the simple ensuite doubles or opt for the budget option with a shared bathroom.
Want the best views over Darling Harbour? Snap up this luxury two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment boasting an uninterrupted view of the Sydney city skyline, right next door to the Australian National Maritime Museum and Darling Harbour’s lively strip of bars and eateries. There’s a large outdoor deck for evening cocktails, plus a full kitchen for a totally independent stay. Staying here, you’ll feel like a local in no time.
Straddling the boundaries of Darling Harbour, the CBD and nearby Barangaroo, this luxury five-star hotel offers apartment-style living in the heart of Sydney. Oversized bedrooms accompany modern kitchens, designer bathrooms and top-class service, plus in-room Nespresso machines to make getting out of bed each morning a little easier. An indoor pool, spa and sauna only sweetens the deal.
Tom Smith contributed additional reporting to this article.
These recommendations were updated on May 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.