Where To Stay In Darling Harbour, Sydney—Novotel Darling Square

At the very heart of Australia’s most visited city, Darling Harbour has long been Sydney’s most popular place for fun-seekers. But where’s the best place to stay?

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square

Christina and I have always loved being tourists in our own city and a staycation is one of the best ways to do this.

It gives you the chance to really see the city through a visitor’s eyes and enjoy all things that people travel so far to experience here.

Over the years, we’ve found some awesome places to stay in Sydney (you can see some of them here) and this time we’re in Darling Harbour at the Novotel Darling Square.

Not to be confused with the Novotel Darling Harbour, which is home to the excellent Ternary Restaurant and has water views, but is actually not as well located, the Novotel Darling Square has everything, including Darling Harbour, right on its doorstep.

Check out our quick 45-second video taking a look around the hotel:

What Is Close To Novotel Darling Square?

Apart from the city in general, you have Darling Harbour and all its delights in front of you, including the International Convention Centre (ICC) and theatre, a huge range of restaurants and bars, Cockle Bay and further on the Aquarium.

Even closer though, you have Darling Square, a relatively new eating precinct with even more (and IMHO better) options than Darling Harbour. This leads on to Chinatown with so much to choose from even we haven’t been to every place in Australia’s biggest Chinatown.

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - view out over Darling Harbour

Novotel Darling Square is also close to ferries, buses, light rail and taxis, so if you want to go further afield, it’s very easy to travel from here.

What Are The Rooms Like In the Novotel Darling Square?

Like a lot of modern hotels in Sydney, the rooms here are small by SE Asian standards but big by European ones. Our room is freshly decorated with plenty of well-planned features, including USB sockets by the bed—a pet peeve for us with hotels that don’t have this.

The bed is huge and very comfortable with a choice of pillows. The bathroom is reasonably spacious with a large shower and vanity. There’s also a desk, office chair and an armchair in the room.

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - view out over Chinese Gardens of Friendship

But it’s what’s outside the room that really impresses us. The views from the eighth floor over Darling Harbour are wonderful and keep us in the room longer than we expect. In fact, we pull up the chairs and enjoy a glass of wine by the windowsill to watch life go by down below.

Pro Tip For The Best Rooms

As for a room on levels six, seven or eight on the north side of the hotel for lovely views over the Chinese Gardens of Friendship and the city and the harbour towards Barangaroo.

Probably because of its location, the Novotel Darling Square feels more for holiday-makers staying here than conference-goers or business travellers. And although there are conference facilities on the first floor, the guests we see are all here for leisure.

Other Facilities

There is a lap pool and gym at the hotel, but these are not necessarily its best features. The lobby bar is comfortable and welcoming and the breakfast restaurant behind it— Pier St. Grill—is large and well-stocked with all the usual hotel fare but also has a build-your-own açai bowl station and a huge jar of Nutella that you can pump over pancakes you make yourself.

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square

Dining At Pumphouse Sydney Bar and Restaurant

Once a pumping station providing hydraulic power to the city, the Pumphouse, built in 1889, still has lots of the old-world charm about it.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been to the Pumphouse Bar and Restaurant many times, but never realised it was part of the hotel. But it is. In fact, there is a connecting door that leads directly from the hotel’s first floor into the beautifully renovated Terrace bar.

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - The Terrace Bar Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - Pumphouse Bar and Restaurant

Food here is both well-priced and well-made, and the beer selection is excellent, which is just as well as it is a micro-brewery too. The bar’s Thunderbolt Strong Ale is worth stopping in for if nothing else. Though you should really think about ordering the flatbreads and tacos here too.

We have the flatbread topped with burnt chilli and garlic toum, sobressada, mozzarella and salsa verde, which is honestly spectacular. The tacos come full of slow-cooked pulled beef brisket and chipotle and are equally excellent.

Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - Thunderbolt homebrew Where to stay in Darling Harbour, Sydney - Novotel Darling Square - food in the Pumphouse

We also try the flank steak, which is pretty good but not our favourite, a bowl of crispy potatoes finished in rich melted butter and, in a nod to salad, the iceberg wedge, which is covered in crispy pancetta, buttermilk ranch, ‘nduja crumb and parmesan!

We roll back to our room in the Novotel Darling Square, mercifully close to the Pumphouse, and make the most of the luxurious comfort of the king-size bed.

We stayed as media guests of Novotel and Eight Communications, but our opinions and experiences remain out own.


  • Reply January 12, 2024

    Peter Hook

    Thank heavens in the redevelopment of Darling Harbour the Pumphouse was preserved. Been a great venue over the years and love the balcony overlooking Darling Park. Very buzzy, but I loved that view from your room. So much greenery!

    • Reply January 15, 2024

      Mr Romance

      Absolutely! I didn’t realise the history behind the Pumphouse, but they’ve done a great job keeping everything in place and using the space so well. The new garden balcony upstairs is lovely. Yes, the view from our room was extraordinary, Peter. Never knew there were views into the Chinese Gardens like that.

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