The 230-room Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour is a typical business chain hotel close to Darling Harbour, near Sydney's currently closed Convention Center. Rooms have boring decor and are equipped with minibars, kettles, and flat-screen TVs. Deluxe Rooms come with perks such as luxury toiletries and free Wi-Fi. Along with multiple event rooms, there's a pool and a fitness center. The upper-middle-range hotel's crown jewel is arguably the on-site Pumphouse Restaurant & Bar, one of Sydney's first microbreweries which today serves around 100 beers. There's no on-site parking, and extra charges for breakfast and Wi-Fi.
Modern business hotel with a historic restaurant, popular with convention goers
Sydney's Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour is an affordable business hotel that's most popular with the corporate set, though its location close to Chinatown makes it a viable choice for tourists who want a reliable, but indisputably ordinary, place to stay. Housed in a modern off-white crescent building, the hotel blends in well with its primarily corporate surrounds near the Darling Harbour convention area. The lobby is sleek but casual, with bronze colored pillars supporting curved mezzanine ceilings with imbedded lights and huge windowed walls that let in lots of natural light during the day. Most of the hotel follows a similar design scheme, except for the historic Pumphouse Restaurant & Bar on-site, which which has a more industrial ambience, with exposed metal pillars on the ceilings and unfinished gray-stone interior walls.
The Novotel is half surrounded by a pedestrian-only area, across from the Chinese Garden of Friendship and a 10-minute walk south of Darling Harbour. The Qantas Credit Union Arena is across from the hotel and Chinatown is within a five-minute walk away. The hotel is also a 10-minute walk from the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, which closed in early 2014. The center is expected to reopen in late-2016 in a new incarnation as the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition, and Entertainment Precinct at Darling Harbour.
The Australian Museum and Hyde Park are a 15-minute walk (or five-minute drive, without traffic) away. The Sydney Opera House and historic The Rocks both take about 10- to 15-minutes by car, depending on traffic. Taronga Zoo and Bondi Beach are each a 20-minute drive away.The Sydney Airport takes a minimum of 15 minutes by car and can also be reached by the Airport Line (T2), which stops at Museum Station, a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The entire trip takes around half an hour door-to-door.
Conventional air-conditioned business rooms, some with extras such as free Wi-Fi and lounge access
The Novotel has 230 rooms in either Standard or Deluxe categories. Standard Rooms come with either a king-size bed or two twins, whereas all Deluxe Rooms have king-size beds. Rooms are typical of what one would expect of a business hotel, with dark, solid carpeting, lightwood furniture, forgettable framed prints on the walls, and sofas or chairs in hues of gray or black. The layout and decor is similar in both types, the main difference between the two is that Deluxe Rooms are on higher floors and come with free Wi-Fi, bathrobes, slippers, and free use of the business lounge. All rooms have flat-screen TVs with pay-per-view movies, air-conditioning, shower/tub combos, kettles, and minibars. Both room type have simple white bathrooms with shower/tub combos and hairdryers, although Standard Rooms come with basic toiletries while Deluxe Rooms have high-end bath products from Australia's Appelles Apothecary.
Pumphouse Bar & Restaurant with huge beer selection, plus pool, gym, and meeting rooms
Along with 24-hour room service, the Novotel offers a cafe, a bar and restaurant, and a breakfast room. Pumphouse Bar & Restaurant was one of the first microbreweries to open its doors in Sydney and has around 100 different beers available. Along with grilled steak and lamb, the Pumphouse Restaurant offers pizzas, salads, and snazzy sides such as truffle mushrooms and house-made pâté. The bar has pub food such as burgers and pizzas and serves a full English breakfast throughout the day. Ceezens, just off to one side of the lobby, serves a buffet breakfast every morning with both hot and cold items available, but it's not included in room rates. A more affordable, lighter option is Brew Cafe, which serves sandwiches and pastries throughout the entire morning under an atrium.
The Novotel is very much a business hotel and they offer a number of packages for conferences and corporate events. There are five rooms in total -- the smallest is the Blackwattle Bay Room, a warm space with autumnal-colored plush chairs and sofas and a big flat-screen TV that can be hooked up to computers for presentations. On the other end of the spectrum, the large Darling Harbour Room has floor-to-ceiling windows and can fit up to 120 people. The Pumphouse can also be rented out for dinners and parties.
The hotel also has a gym with cardio equipment and a few weight machines as well as a small, but longish, indoor heated pool that's suitable for short laps. There's no on-site parking, though there is a non-affiliated parking lot that guests can use for a fee located right by the hotel. Wi-Fi costs extra, except for guests staying in Deluxe Rooms, who also get access to the Club Lounge, a private -- but not particularly impressive -- space for business travelers with free coffee, tea, and fountain drinks.
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