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Holiday Inn Darling Harbour 3.5

Darling Harbour, Sydney, Greater Sydney

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Review Summary

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  • Central location close to Chinatown and Paddy's Market
  • In easy walking distance of public transit and many top sights
  • Spacious guest rooms are comfy and well equipped
  • Property incorporates a former 19th-century warehouse 
  • Two eateries, including a restaurant/bar with stone-grill dining
  • Free access to small fitness facility and wellness center


  • Practical but uninspiring interiors 
  • No pool or on-site parking
  • Breakfast isn't included
  • Free Wi-Fi requires joining the hotel's free loyalty club

Bottom Line

Vibrant Chinatown is just around the corner from this upper-middle-range Haymarket hotel, and Darling Harbour’s many attractions are a short walk away, too. In short, location is a major draw here. This property has good bones, too: Exteriors incorporate the handsome brick facade of an 1890’s wool warehouse, while the 370 rooms inside are notable for their generous size. The decor throughout, though, is uninspiring at best, and the same can be said of the hotel's features. In addition to a pair of restaurants, it has a small fitness facility plus an equally small wellness center with a sauna, whirlpool, and steam room, but there's no pool. Other downsides include a fee for breakfast, and guests must join the hotel's loyalty club to avoid another fee for Wi-Fi. Travelers should compare rates with the nearby Radisson, another brand-name hotel in the area.

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A brand-name hotel with broad appeal

The Holiday Inn Darling Harbour occupies two multi-story redbrick buildings, one of which -- the former John Bridge Warehouse -- dates back to the late-19th century. A few aspects of that edifice have been preserved, like the facade and part of the original ceiling (visible in Shipley’s Restaurant); historical details, however, end there. The functional lobby with its muddy-brown woodgrains and olive accents feels outdated, and not in a historic way. Plus apart from a few potted plants, there are few decorative elements to liven up the space. Nevertheless, the hotel remains a popular pick among business and leisure travelers who appreciate its familiar name and central location. 


A coveted location in Haymarket, not far from Darling Harbour

Hands down, the best thing about this hotel is its Haymarket location. The Holiday Inn provides a great base for tourists because Chinatown is around the corner, and Darling Harbour -- known for its many museums and attractions -- is only a short walk away. Business types, meanwhile, benefit from proximity to the International Convention Centre and the CBD’s office towers. Travelers in both categories will also enjoy the restaurants, bars and clubs of Cockle Bay Wharf, which can be reached in just 10 minutes on foot. When you want to go farther afield, the Paddy's Market light rail station is close at hand, too. Guests coming with a car should be aware that the hotel has no on-site parking; however; you're eligible for discounted rates at a secure spot nearby. 

  • Two-minute walk to Chinatown
  • Three-minute walk to Paddy's Market
  • Eight-minute walk to Darling Harbour entertainment district
  • Nine-minute walk to Powerhouse Museum
  • 10-minute walk to Cockle Bay Wharf 
  • 11-minute walk to International Convention Centre
  • 12-minute walk to Sea Life Aquarium
  • 15-minute walk to Pitt Street Mall
  • 16-minute walk to National Maritime Museum
  • 22 minutes to Sydney Harbour Bridge by public transit
  • 25 minutes to Sydney Opera House by public transit
  • 26 minutes to Sydney Airport by public transit


Sizable rooms that lack style and character

The spacious rooms in all categories here are clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned. Unfortunately, they all share an ill-conceived decorating scheme that combines bland blond-wood furniture and generic wall-to-wall carpeting with fussy accent fabrics and feature walls painted in garish shades like lime or orange. That said, they are well outfitted. Standard amenities include a choice of soft or firm pillows, safes, ironing equipment, mini-fridges, tea/coffee-making supplies and 32-inch flat-screen TVs; Wi-Fi and wired internet connections are offered, too, though it requires joining the brand's free loyalty program to avoid an additional fee. The beige tiled bathrooms are especially sparse, but they do have plenty of space and deep tubs with handheld showers or separate glass-enclosed shower stalls. 

Note that the generous size of this hotel’s options -- especially Family Executive Rooms and Suites with separate living rooms -- make it a good choice for parents. 


Expect on-site eateries plus small health and wellness facilities but no pool.

Unlike many Holiday Inns in the US, this Sydney outpost doesn’t boast a swimming pool. What it does have is a rather claustrophobic workout room containing a few cardio and weight machines, plus a wellness zone with a small sauna, a wee whirlpool, and a cramped steam room -- all of which can be accessed at no charge.

Guest fare better when it comes to in-house dining. Shipley's Restaurant, where the add-on breakfast buffet is laid out each morning, retains some elements of the original building (most notably the exposed-beam ceiling) with cocoa-colored walls and cozy booths adding to the ambiance. For lunch or dinner, JB’s (named for John Bridge) is a lighter, brighter, more contemporary alternative which specializes in at-your-table stone grilling; light bites and sidewalk seating are available at its bar. 

Families are often drawn to this hotel for its Family Executive Rooms and Suites. The fact that kids under 13 stay free, cribs are on loan for free, and on-request babysitting is offered are added incentives.

Other features include a 24-hour front desk, concierge services, dry cleaning/laundry services and round-the-clock room service; however, getting free wired internet or Wi-Fi access requires joining the hotels free loyalty program. Those that avoid doing so will get hit with a hefty fee.

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Darling Harbour 68 Harbour St, Sydney 2000, Australia

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