Staycation: the new Sydney Sofitel is a sight for tired eyes

New five-star hotels are rare occurrences in this city. Lara Picone checks in to Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour to discover the wait was well worth it.

Usually when you walk into a hotel room you’re not met by an all-consuming darkness. But after checking into one of Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour’s Prestige Suites, I find myself shuffling forward, slightly disoriented, as if someone has blindfolded me and spun me around three times. My arms flail in front before I find the heavy, hotel-grade blockout curtains and wrench them aside. 

Aaaand the penny drops. Followed immediately by my stomach. I’m standing at the corner of the 32nd floor with a vertiginous view of the harbour and its miniature-looking boats below. The closed curtains, of course, are all part of the cleverly orchestrated big reveal of this show-stopping panorama. 

When I eventually drag my eyes upwards, the full extent of the revelation becomes apparent. Even as someone who approaches heights with a fair amount of knee-trembling and brow-furrowing, it’s impossible to look away from glittering, sun-bathed Sydney standing tall with the green, glassy water lapping at her toes. After living in this city for more that 15 years, I still catch myself getting all daisy-eyed over her beauty. 

Sydney Sofitel

That’s partly why we’ve booked into the opulent 74-square metre Prestige Suite in what is Sydney’s first international new-build, five-star hotel since the 2000 Olympics. I’ve decided to dub our jaunt, despite my husband’s eyeroll, as a “Sydney Appreciation Weekend”, with the intention of visiting some offerings unique to the city during our two-day stay. Our expletive-inspiring wraparound view means it’s off to a good start. 

For a large hotel, the vast room feels perfectly boutique. Timeless style is at work here with sharp details such as leather trims, Hermès toiletries, and a bath that seems to invite a glass of Champagne with your soak. It’s a vain attempt to draw your attention from the windows, but appreciated nonetheless. 

While the suite is not for the thriftily inclined, it’s well worth a splurge for a special event or milestone birthday. And it does unlock access to the exclusive Club Millésime, a perceptively appointed lounge on the 35th floor where that attention-seeking almost-360-degree spectacle performs from breakfast through to a nightcap. Members of the club are treated to complimentary afternoon tea and evening drinks with canapés, as well as that intoxicating feeling that you’re part of a privileged private party.

But we abscond from said party to continue our City Appreciation Weekend at Le Rivage Pool Bar. After one round of poolside Bloody Marys it’s clear the weekend will not actually entail entering the city at all, but rather simply viewing it from the sleek confines of the Sofitel. Languishing in the infinity-edge pool with its harbour backdrop, I decide I’m entirely OK with that.  

Lara Picone was a guest of Sofitel.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

2 Darling Drive, Sydney

8388 8888

Club Millésime Prestige Suites start at $1069 per night; entry-level Superior rooms start at $369 per night.