TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

DARLING HARBOUR HOTEL REVIEW: SMH TRAVELLER
The image is property of Fairfax Media

My husband saunters into our ninth-floor suite at the refurbished Parkroyal Darling Harbour and I instantly know he’s after only one thing. It’s the same thing most men are after when they enter a hotel room: something delicious, something delightful, something naughty. My husband is after… the minibar.

He moves like a jungle cat, past the first bathroom in the hallway, across the Florence Broadhurst-style charcoal and cream floral carpet in the sitting room, vehemently opening and closing the wooden cupboards on the far wall in search of his beloved minibar. He unearths some chips and nuts, but his face falls when beer fails to appear. He walks through to the bedroom and, in a last-ditch effort, tries the wardrobe. Ah-ha! That familiar tiny fridge nestled – oddly – right beside two fluffy bathrobes. He cracks open a Stella Artois, tears into the peanuts, and flops onto the comfy king bed; a man sated.

My pleasure is derived from a very different source: a showerhead the size of a dinner plate in the second, very spacious, bathroom. I linger beneath the soothing water far longer than I should, testing the fabulous Appelles Apothecary bath products, then head into the bedroom to discover a cheese plate has been delivered in my absence. I join my hubby for a bed picnic, munching happily on cheese, fresh figs, walnuts and muscatels. We ignore the flatscreen opposite our bed and instead watch Darling Harbour’s nightlife come alive through our large bedroom window.

 

And then we ate
Having nabbed ourselves a club suite from the 340 rooms on offer, we’re treated to complimentary pre-dinner canapes and drinks in the Club Lounge. We nibble pickled vegies, cheeses, dips and meatballs and sip glasses of Dunes sparkling pinot noir before heading down to the in-house restaurant, Barkers. With Scandinavian-style furniture, it looks fresh and modern following the hotel’s recent multimillion-dollar refurbishment.

From a global menu offering modern Australian, Asian, Italian and Indian, we make our choices (nasi goreng for him, spanner crab pasta for me) and select a bottle of Henschke chardonnay from an approachable wine list, which exclusively showcases Australian and New Zealand regions. We’re seated by the windows that overlook the strangely mesmerising Saturday night traffic humming along the western distributor, and the less mesmerising back of the IMAX theatre.

 

The deal maker
Being just a stone’s throw from the city is a real treat for us northern beaches dwellers – and we take full advantage.

 

Stepping out
We’d love to stick around and watch the Saturday night Darling Harbour fireworks from our room but we have plans to meet friends in Surry Hills. A $10 cab ride sees us to Tio’s bar, a dark cave filled with tequila, beer, free spicy popcorn and heavily tattooed barkeeps. After one too many of their excellent margaritas, our group of four decides a midnight snack of pippies with XO sauce and dumplings at Chinatown’s Golden Century (open until 4am) is in order. From there, it’s just a seven-minute stumble back to the hotel.

 

We awake
the following morning a tad dusty, but a delicious buffet breakfast, including homemade baked beans and herbed mushrooms, sorts us out. We drag ourselves to the gym, also recently refurbished, for a rather sluggish workout. Only then are we ready to indulge in some retail therapy in the city, but not before my husband grabs an orange juice to go from the minibar.

 

Nina Karnikowski was a guest of Parkroyal.

TRIP NOTES

NEED TO KNOW

 

Parkroyal Darling Harbour

Address 150 Day Street, Sydney.

The verdict Contemporary, comfortable and convenient.

Price Superior rooms start at $212 a night; club suites from $348 a night. Club package includes breakfast, twilight drinks and canapes, all-day refreshments, two pieces of laundry a day, complimentary in-room internet, and more. Valet parking is available for $50.

Bookings parkroyalhotels.com /darlingharbour.

Getting there The Parkroyal Darling Harbour is just a five-minute walk from Town Hall station.

Wheelchair access Yes.

While you’re there Take in a nature flick on the IMAX mega-screen, a mere three-metre walk away. Indulge your inner child — or your actual child — with a visit to Madame Tussauds wax museum, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, or Wild Life Sydney Zoo, all at Darling Harbour.

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