A lot has changed in Sydney’s harbour-side suburb of Pyrmont. Tired warehouses have been repurposed as trendy office spaces, chic cafés and bars. At the centre of this renaissance is the Star, an entertainment complex of restaurants, clubs, a theatre and — my destination — The Darling hotel.
Checking into a hotel located right next to a 24-hour entertainment hub does leave me concerned about whether proper R&R will be achievable, but the quiet that greets me the minute I enter the mood-lit minimalist lobby quickly silences those qualms. I should have known better — in Pyrmont, there is always more than meets the eye.
After a smooth check in, I ascend to the 12th floor and walk down a similarly mood-lit corridor to my 70-square-metre Jewel Suite. As I open the door, blinds covering the floor-to-ceiling windows open on cue, revealing the city and those famous harbour views.
The vistas outside are quite a contrast to the scene inside — there’s something very Vegas-chic about the suite, fashioned in sleek brown, black and dark wood. A wet bar takes up the right side of the living room, martini glasses and cocktail shaker at the ready for a later hour, perhaps to be used along with the room’s Nespresso machine for some espresso martinis. Some of the wooden-clad walls are actually hidden drawers and cupboards, concealing things such as the motion-sensored minibar (if an item has been removed for more than 30 seconds, you’ll be charged for it) and a wireless keyboard to use with the Samsung Smart TV set into the wall.
Through a wooden sliding door, the bathroom and bedroom await. A second flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall in front of the bed, which is dressed in 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets, while a work desk sits alongside the windows. It seems that the biggest indulgence lies in wait as I step into the oversized marble bathroom. Commanding the centre of the room is the spa bath, which I start to fill as I explore the room’s deeper caverns. Double sinks sit on either side of the doorway, stocked with Molton Brown products, while a shower (with rain shower and regular European tap) is to the left and a toilet to the right. Off to the far right is an oversized dressing room, which adds to the room’s decadence.
DINE AND SHOP
I can’t get the spa bath to work properly (the buttons aren’t clear to navigate), but that is as far as my tech difficulties go. The suite’s lights, blinds, TV and temperature can be centrally controlled via a “Control Four” system, which, I am pleased to discover, is very user-friendly.
It’s easy to wile away a day without ever leaving The Darling. There’s a sun-soaked pool on the fifth floor, as well as a gym and spa (which also happens to be Sydney’s first hammam). The Star is home to luxury shopping from Chanel to Ferragamo and Gucci, and a variety of quality restaurant and bar offerings — I’d recommend a meal at BLACK by Ezard followed by dessert at Zumbo, which is set out like a sushi train and is the brainchild of local pâtissier extraordinaire, Adriano Zumbo. If you want to take in a show, Sydney Lyric theatre is also at the complex, but the delights of Circular Quay and Darling Harbour are a short cab ride away.
The hotel’s website boasts that once you sleep on a Darling bed, you’d be reluctant to leave. When my alarm goes off and the blinds open on cue next morning, I realise how true it is. Were it not for my busy work schedule and the invitingly cloudless day outside, I would have been tempted to request a late check-out — or another night.
THE IMPORTANT BIT
What: Jewel Suite 1284
Where: The Darling, Sydney
Price: from AUD $829 (US $734) per night
Tel: +61 2 9777 9000