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Novotel Sydney Darling Square – a city stay-cay for the whole family

With the delights of Chinatown and Darling Harbour a stone’s throw away, Novotel Sydney Darling Square is the perfect city hotel for ankle biters and angsty teens. And with a new Kids Club, a games room for kids up to 15 years, parents can now look forward to wine o’clock guilt – and child – free.

In the Blackwattle Room on level 1 of the Novotel Sydney Darling Square, a room that feels like it may have been frequented by suited business folk prior to its transformation as the Novotel Kids Club, Miss 7 exclaims, “You can order icy poles from that red phone! I get to order icy poles whenever I want!” It’s these little surprises that set the tone for our city stay-cay. And the Novotel doesn’t disappoint.

It’s the Easter long weekend when we visit the recently refurbished hotel. With only 230 rooms, it’s less than half the size of its nearest cousin the Sofitel, but this is one cosy hotel that packs a big punch. Easter eggs on arrival, tick. Bouncy bed, tick. Views of Darling Harbour, tick. Buffet breakfast, tick. Indoor heated pool, tick. Kids’ club, tick. Hang on – what was that?

Once the domain of resorts and tropical islands, Sydney hotels have been late to grasp the allure of kids’ clubs and activities dedicated to the youngsters – so the Novotel’s Kids Club is a welcome treat. And not just for the little ones, but we’ll get to that later.

Right now we’re back in the Blackwattle Room as Miss 7 ooohs and ahhs over the smorgasbord of fresh fruit, lollies and popcorn that greets her on the sideboard. There’s even a fridge full of fruit cups, bottled water and juice to keep the most health-conscious parent appeased.

Inside a wide screen tv dominates the centre of the room, connected to a bank of Xbox consoles it’s a tween gamer’s dream come true. Further within, a light-filled alcove with comfy sofas and bean bags makes the perfect nook for smaller kids. Add in baskets of books, toys and board games and everyone’s tastes are catered for.

Fancy some old school Connect 4? Or a round of Jenga? There are giant versions of each strewn around the room tempting the adults to play. But this room is strictly for kids, or so we’re told. Which might make it tricky to leave a child under 10 – the room is unsupervised except for hourly check-ins. But when we return a few hours later, quick-thinking parents have navigated this easily. Mums and dads are flopped on sofas and some pop in for more frequent visits.

For dinner Miss 7 and I take the lift back to level 1 and feeling like VIPs, we stroll through a connecting door “strictly for hotel patrons” to access the Pumphouse mezzanine – a floor dedicated to Novotel Kids’ Club families. Up here cushioned cane chairs, a tropical wall mural and faux greenery ooze plantation-style vibes – a sharp contrast to the industrial chic of bar stools and tiled trestle tables below. On the main floor, the Pumphouse is hitting its stride. It’s early on a Saturday night but already the music is energetic, the punters are sampling craft beers – the Pumphouse is known as the home of Thunderbolt Strong Ale after all – and ordering bar food like it’s going out of fashion.

After selecting a table an arm’s length from the Kids’ Club, Miss 7 promptly departs to join a troupe of other young ones intent on pillaging the lolly buffet. And this is where the Kids’ Club really shines. Open until 8pm and shouting distance from the Pumphouse mezzanine, the Club is the perfect spot for parents to park their wee ones as they indulge in a bevvy or two. And the Pumphouse isn’t short of these.

Pick from one of several signature gin and tonic cocktails – with names like Skippy Fever and Thunderstruck you’d order just for the fun of it. Want something more fancy? There’s Veuve by the glass and a bottle of 2012 Dom Perignon if you’re breaking the bank. Taking a booze-break? No problem. There are mocktails a plenty – the lychee lime treat of the Virgin Darling is our fave.

Miss 7 magically appears as the fried buttermilk chicken, corn ribs and wood fired flat bread arrive but vanishes when she eyes another child emerge from the Kids’ Club, lemonade ice-block in hand. And just like that, the adults are back to their wine, and the kids entertained with whatever it is kids do when we’re not looking.

Later that night in our room, with Miss 7 busy inspecting her complimentary Kids’ Club gift bag – there’s puzzles, an origami pack and colouring-in supplies – we draw the curtains of our sixth-floor window and watch the nightly Darling Harbour fireworks light up the sky, illuminating the curved pagodas of the Chinese Gardens below. Outside there’s a man juggling fire sticks, buskers singing and a Gelato Messina if we need another sweet fix. We crack open the Cab Shiraz gifted by the hotel as we plan the next day’s activities. With SEA Life Sydney Aquarium, the Powerhouse Museum, Darling Quarter playgrounds and eateries of Darling Square right on our door-step, we know the hardest part will be deciding how we fit it all in.


School holiday offer: Novotel Sydney Darling Square guests receive a free glass of wine and kids can enjoy two free kids meal for every main dish ordered at the Pumphouse Sydney. The hotel also offers free breakfast for up to two children per booking.

Novotel Kids’ Club will run each School Holiday period:

Winter School Holidays:  1 July –  16 July

Spring School Holidays:   23 September  – 8 October

Summer School Holidays: 23 December –  28 January 2024


The Inner West Mums stayed courtesy of Novotel Sydney Darling Square.

Got a hotel stay-cay that you enjoyed? Give us a heads-up at or comment below.

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  • doreenmillena
    15/04/2023 at 8:59 am

    can’t wait to try it looking for new family fun places in Sydney!

    • Francesca Millena
      16/04/2023 at 7:40 am

      Thanks for the feedback – let us know if you end up visiting this hotel. We’d love to hear about your experience!

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