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The Darling Hotel review: Sydney’s only Forbes Five-Star hotel

The Darling is located within The Star Sydney and offers luxury, boutique-style accommodation for discerning travellers. It’s the only hotel in Sydney with a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating.

The concept

Arriving at this harbourside hotel, you’d be forgiven for not realising it’s part of The Star Sydney, an enormous complex of restaurants, casinos and entertainment outlets. The Darling is the venue’s more premium, boutique accommodation offering. And while it has discrete gaming rooms available, it also offers a luxurious day spa, a fine-dining Japanese restaurant, and an eclectic selection of room options.

Darling Hotel review facts 

Traveller: Cara Wagstaff 

Room: Penthouse Suite Deluxe 

Address: 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Sydney, Australia

Date: February 2022 

Best for: A city staycation or for interstate travellers wanting a convenient base to explore Sydney and surrounding areas

The Signature factor

It is one of just three properties in Australia with a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating. Forbes uses anonymous judges to ensure the hotel meets up to 900 different criteria points, predominantly focusing on service, to receive the prestigious accolade. Which I can attest is true. From the concierge to the spa therapists, every hotel employee is helpful and attentive to our needs.

The Darling lobby © supplied

First impressions

The Darling’s recently refurbished lobby area welcomes us into the calm and relaxed hotel. Strategically arranged modern furniture provides comfortable and semi-private meeting areas. From here you can access Sokyo, the property’s fine-dining Japanese restaurant.

We’re greeted by name and Jean, the bubbly Assistant Manager helps us check-in. We’ve arrived a bit early, so she takes us up to the pool to wait until our room is ready. The pool area is surrounded by a large sundeck and has a hot tub and pool bar, where we order some snacks while we relax.

Penthouse Suite Deluxe © supplied

Top suite

We’re staying in the Penthouse Suite Deluxe, replete with karaoke room. Accessible through a private entry foyer, the 140-square-metre space has floor-to-ceiling windows showing off Sydney Harbour. There is a dining room, lounge with fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen. Not that we plan on using it, with the slew of fine-dining restaurants at our disposal in The Star. The two grandiose bedrooms each have marble ensuites with his-and-hers sinks; my bathroom includes a spa bath and rain shower, which also doubles as a steam room. All of the penthouses have access to butler service and a private gaming room should the desire to wager arise.

Darling Penthouse Suite Living Room

The rooms

Each of the 171 rooms and suites on offer at the Darling ooze glamorous individuality and come with Balmain Paris amenities. I manage to take a peek at another one of The Darling’s guestrooms,  the Jewel Suite. The suite is divided by a TV wall splitting it into two areas for lounging or sleeping. Staying true to hotels ethos, the design is contemporary, with dark and romantic accents.

All hotel rooms and suites are being refreshed following a trial run of an entry-level room and suite. The Darling launched these prototype rooms and asked guests for feedback about what elements they liked or disliked. This intel was then fed back and factored into the final layouts which will be completed by the end of the year.


On my plate

A stay at The Darling wouldn’t be complete without experiencing Sokyo. Head chef Chase Kojima seamlessly blends traditional Japanese cuisine with modern Australian influences, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. He has created signature dishes like kingfish miso ceviche, shiitake and eggplant tempura and the dengakuman, miso-glazed slices of toothfish in a Japanese salsa. Each and every dish is refreshing and perfectly balanced. The service is near impeccable with knowledgeable and attentive waitstaff. Sokyo’s extensive beverage list under the stewardship of sommelier Max Duyvestyn has won Australian Wine List of the Year for four consecutive years.

Spa life

A visit to the hotel’s fifth floor instantly transports me into a state of meditative bliss. The Darling Spa oozes romance and luxury with muted lighting, dark hallways and the relaxing sounds of nature and woodwind instruments. I’m booked in for a massage and facial with therapist Anna, who uses soothing and flowing strokes, getting deep enough to relax my muscles and tension. The spa uses German brand Babor’s products, which Anna massages gently into my face and neck. After the treatment I choose to relax in the Zen room. Other post-treatment rooms available for use are the steam room, jacuzzi or tea lounge where refreshments are served.

Stepping out

Surely the best thing about staying at The Darling is its location. Within The Star complex you have easy access to the Lyric theater, the casino, convenience stores as well as a bounty of exclusive restaurants.

On our second night we walk down to the Italian restaurant, Cucina Porto. We slip into a lush pink booth and for starters order the burrata and stone-baked bread. It comes out piping hot from the stone pizza oven and is served with a mouthwatering olive tapenade. For our mains, we keep it simple and share the pumpkin, caprino cheese, sage and butternut crisp fettuccine and the Sottobosco pizza, topped with fior di latte, roasted mushroom, rocket, eggplant, gorgonzola cheese. On the way back to our room we walk past Gelato Messina. I’m tempted in for a scoop of the salted caramel and white chocolate gelato, while mum has the boysenberry.

Final verdict

The Darling is a worthy recipient of the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating, if not just for its service alone. Everyone we encountered was warm, helpful and accommodating. The Darling is the perfect location to explore the city of Sydney, or simply bunker down for a city staycation making the most of the resort’s pool, spa and The Star’s slew of dining establishments. Not to mention catching a show at the Lyric Theatre.

Where to find The Darling

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