Review: Holiday Inn Sydney Darling Harbour

The Holiday Inn Sydney Darling Harbour is conveniently located in Sydney’s Chinatown, close to a number of excellent eateries serving all kinds of Asian cuisine. It is also within walking distance of Darling Harbour, Sydney’s most famous tourist trap.

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We had a suite on the hotel’s top floor. The highlight for us was an extremely comfortable office chair – a rarity in form over function hotel world. It looked like a newer piece of furniture than everything else in the suite.

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The minibar was located in the cabinet under the television. However, there was nothing in it. At this property ‘for your convenience’ (read: because the hotel hasn’t been able to make adequate profits from it) the minibar is empty, although you can order items from room service.

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The hotel is showing its age. The air conditioning was regretfully relatively noisy, but very necessary in the Sydney heat. The flat screen TV at the end of the bed was tiny – a function of the tiny space there was to squeeze it into.

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The bathroom had a separate tub and shower, but is showing its age.

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Holiday Inn seem to have a brand standard of absolutely horrendous toiletries. We were also surprised by the sticker on the wall that informed us that ‘for your convenience, a hair dryer is located in the wardrobe (rather than, you know, in the bathroom).

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The hotel’s main restaurant is, we think, well designed to merge the modern with the old (part of the hotel is built into the former John Bridge woolstore, an historic Victorian woolstore built in polychrome brick in 1889).

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However, breakfast was a dire affair, at least as far as the hot options were concerned. The scrambled eggs were pretty close to being completely inedible.

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The hotel has a small gym on the third floor, which strangely has a jacuzzi lodged in one corner of it. It wasn’t very warm and it was just strange to sit in the jacuzzi while there are people working out in the gym. For what its worth, this area used to be a carpark.

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The hotel advertises itself as having a self-service laundry, although when we visited this was closed for ‘renovations’ and guests were invited to use the hotel’s laundry service, with prices which boarded on extortionate.

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With best flexible rates for a regular room hovering around the AU$180-a night mark (and AU$300 for a suite) on a quiet Sunday night in Sydney, we find this property’s pricing to be out kilter with its quality – even in the expensive Sydney hotel market. At 35,000 IHG Rewards points for the night, we find this property to represent even worse value.

Based on the crowds in the lobby, a large number of many cheap package tourists and flight attendants stay here. Such a market follows the volume discount.  If you don’t get the discount, then why would you stay here?

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