ellaslist Reviews: A Perfect Family Staycation at Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour

  • Family
    Parents Only
    All Ages

"Are we there yet?" What parent hasn't heard those four words when embarking on a family holiday - whether by road, rail, air or sea.

It felt kind of strange packing our bags into the car and setting off on a trip that would take us just 20 minutes. The kids never had a chance to utter those four words!

A Perfect Family Staycation at Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour 

We arrived at the Novotel Darling Harbour hotel as guests of ALL-Accor Live Limitless and immediately felt we were on holiday. We were greeted by the friendly concierge staff as soon as we walked through the front door. Stepping through those doors was especially exciting for our family as our kids had never stayed in a hotel. Being a family of six, hotels can be tricky - logistically and financially!

The Novotel was able to accommodate us with two connecting rooms - the perfect solution for our big family, with the girls in one room and my husband and I in the next.

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour - he perfect city staycation!
Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour - the perfect family city staycation!

A Relaxing Retreat from the Hustle & Bustle of the City

How something makes you feel dramatically impacts your impression and memories of a particular place. When I walked into my room and had a bottle of wine and a cheese plate waiting for me, I instantly felt relaxed and on holiday.

Equally, when the kids walked into their room and discovered the containers of lollies and activity books and the stars projected onto the ceiling and walls - they felt pure joy!

The rooms are spacious, with breathtaking views of Darling Harbour and Barangaroo against the spectacular backdrop of the Sydney city skyline. Large windows overlooking Darling Harbour and down to Barangaroo allow you to take it all in. You can see so much from your space, you can almost plan your activities and dining options from the comfort of your room.

The accommodation has all the necessities like tea and coffee, a hairdryer, iron, bathroom essentials and large TV. There is also a bath which is a big plus for kids and pretty luxurious for mum and dad to soak in after a bid day out exploring the city.

Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour Review
Our luxe home-away-from-home at Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour.

Dining: A Sensory Experience

We headed to The Ternary Bar for a pre-dinner drink. The staff are great, and the menu is extensive. They make a pretty mean cocktail too. The Spicy Margarita is a must! Happy hour at the bar is from 4-6 pm, Monday to Sunday.

The kids joined us, and we headed into the Ternary restaurant after our drinks. They have two key areas in the restaurant - The Grill Kitchen and the Asian Kitchen. Both give you a birds-eye view of the preparation and cooking.

You can sit up at the bar of the Grill Kitchen, which gives you front-row seats to the expertise of Anthony Flowers. We were lucky enough to be seated directly in front of Chef Lucas and his team at the Asian Kitchen. It is definitely a well-oiled machine! Naan bread cooked right in front of our eyes in the hottest of hot ovens. Such a skilled technique and the taste - ooh yum!

The kids were pretty happy, too, as they were given activity packs with colouring, crosswords and crayons on arrival.

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour Dinner
Five-star dining designed with families in mind.

The menu was a game-changer. It was one of the few menus I've come across where I wanted absolutely everything on it! We opted for a range of starters to share to taste as many dishes as possible.

The kids aren't forgotten, with a range of kid's meals available from Margherita pizza to fish and chips to burgers. There is something for everyone.

The Ternary have you covered - a five-star dining experience with a mesmerising city backdrop and great meal options for adults and kids alike.

Dinner at Novotel Hotel Darling Harbour
There is something for everyone at Ternary Restaurant.

Explore the Novotel Hotel

We definitely enjoyed chilling in the spacious, well-equipped rooms with that fantastic view and dining at Ternary restaurant. Still, there's so much more to keep the family busy and entertained.

The outside pool area is a must-visit for families. The pool area accommodates lounge chairs, plenty of seating, and a bar area to order food and drink.

There's also an outside gym area where you can work out in front of the breathtaking views of Darling Harbour. The inside gym might be more your scene, equipped with treadmills, rowing machines and weights.

Kids can also enjoy the kid's area on Level 1 near reception, where they can enjoy some quiet time with a book or use the computer. Great to keep the kids busy while mum and dad enjoy a quiet drink at the bar.

Feel Inspired and Ignited as you Explore the City

The Novotel Darling Harbour is perfectly located next to so many great Sydney icons and districts. On your doorstep is the most amazing kids' playground with water play, ropes and slides! Ride the carousel and see a birds-eye view of Darling Harbour or visit some famous attractions such as Madame Tussauds, the Chinese Garden of Friendship and Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, to name just a few.

Madame Tussauds Sydney
Surfs up at Madame Tussauds!

We took the kids on a star-studded walk through Madame Tussauds. So many great photo opportunities and kids got to feel special and excited as they stood side by side with their idols such as Kylie Minogue, Chris Hemsworth, Lady Gaga and Superman - to name a few. It was surreal to stand next to Bob Hawke and catch a wave with Layne Beachley.

The kids loved being on stay with Taylor Swift, singing and dancing and feeling like rock stars! They were also blown away with the audition experience - putting their acting skills to the test with Jacob Elordi is the ultimate screen audition. I always knew my kids were 'dramatic'.

Madame Tussauds Sydney Review Spiderman
You never know who'll you bump into at Madame Tussauds.

After mixing with the stars, it was time to get back to nature (and reality)! We took the kids for a walk from Madame Tussauds along the waterfront of Darling Harbour to Barangaroo. The path takes you to Sydney Observatory and the Rocks. It's an easy flat walk and very pram-friendly. Good for scooters and bikes if the kids don't want to walk. And for the parents - along with the natural beauty of the surroundings- you'll rouse your olfactory senses by walking by all the beautiful restaurants and bars.

Australian National Maritime Museum
Ships ahoy at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Another great attraction we visited was the Australian National Maritime Museum. Where do I start? There is so much to see and do - from climbing aboard the historical vessels, exploring them inside and out, to coming under the spell of the mesmerising sea life photography to joining in with some interactive kids activities in the Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Ocean Predators exhibition where kids can travel back in time to the wondrous world of prehistoric marine reptiles.

The kids were running from room to room to view all of the historical marine displays. A favourite for the littles is Kids on Deck which has a range of interactive fun and lots of hands-on activities.

 Australian National Maritime Museum Kids on Deck Sydney
Fun, hands-on activities at Kids on Deck.

On the Novotel Hotel Doorstep: Darling Harbour Delights

You don't have to travel too far from the hotel to feel excited and invigorated and go on a sensory journey for your eyes and taste buds.

Feeling peckish? Well, at Darling Harbour, you're spoilt for choice! From kid-friendly cafes to fast food outlets, pubs and 5-star restaurants, there is something for everyone! We opted for Fratelli Fresh for lunch. Large restaurant with a great selection of adult and kids meals. A range of pasta, pizza and salads. Enjoy a wine or beer while the kids get high on pink lemonade! They have colouring sheets to keep the kids busy too.

Lunch at Darling Harbour Sydney
Spoilt for choice! Lunch at Sydney's vibrant Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour itself is so colourful and great to explore with the kids. The fantastic playground with water channels and fountains, climbing ropes, flying fox, slides and swings is a must-visit. And for mum and dad - plenty of seating, shade and coffee!

Another great place to visit is the library situated around Darling Square - mostly known for its excellent collection of restaurants, especially those down those surrounding cobblestoned laneways. Front and centre is a spiralling, light-filled 'hive' - an awe-inspiring architectural structure housing a ground-floor food court, restaurants and Darling Square Library.

The library has a dedicated kid's area with lots of comfy lounges and craft tables - a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and perfect for a rainy day.

Darling Square Library
Darling Square Library is a 'hive' of activity!

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour Details

  • Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour is located at 100 Murray Street, Darling Harbour
  • The Ternary Bar is open 11am - 10pm
  • The Ternary Restaurant is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Check-in is at 2 pm, and check-out is at 11 am

Book your Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour family staycation here.

Plus, you can redeem your NSW Stay and Parent Vouchers!

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