Grace vs Novotel Sydney

Apr 16th, 2007, 08:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 36
Grace vs Novotel Sydney

My wife and I will be attending a conference in August in Australia. We will have to spend six nights in Sydney.
We have narrowed our hotel choices down to two, based on proximity to the Convention centre: the Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour which is the closest to the convention center and the Grace Hotel about 1 km away. Since we will be attending events at the Convention centre all day and evenings as well, we want to minimize travel back and forth to the hotel but also don't want to stay in a dreary hotel if we can avoid it.
Any thoughts from the always helpful Fodorites out there?
hacoah is offline  
Apr 17th, 2007, 11:59 PM
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As a local I hate Darling Harbour, it's a tourist trap that I would never recommend anyone visit--apart from the Aquarium and the area called Cockle Bay wharf where there are some OK restaurants, that's on the opposite side of the harbour to the Convention centre. So I personally wouldn't recommend staying at Darling Harbour, although the Novotel may be fine and that location it is good for public transport.

The Grace Hotel if it's the art deco hotel in the downtown area, has a lot of character and often has good deals--I'd say it's more than 1 km from Darling Harbour. In terms of public transport, I think you could probably take the monorail from the city to Darling Harbour. Here's the map:

Just another possiblity to consider, Darling Harbour is on the ferry route from Circular Quay. It probably takes about 15 minutes maximum. You can check the Ferry timetable on Sydney Ferries.

This could increase your options, you could stay in the Rocks or Circular Quay area and get a ferry into the conference each day, it's a very nice way to travel.

Susan7 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 08:31 PM
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Well, we stayed at the Four Points Sheraton in 2004 (when the rates were better than now--but you might be able to get better if you have starwood points or a convention rate) and it was great. View of the bay and fireworks the first night there. Also the restaurants in Cockle Bay were good. This time we want to stay in the Rocks, but for your purposes, the hotels in Darling Harbor are probably much more convenient. I think the Novotel was the huge one across the bay from the Four Points and from memory looked quite delux, and the monorail went right there. Now if you really prefer historic or hotels with character, I agree, dont' go there, but for a convention, the convenience factor might be the greatest one. I sure hope you get to stay on before and/or after to savor the sights. Sydney is great, and I would hate for your only experience to be the inside of a huge hotel.
Sally in Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 05:20 PM
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Thanks for the replies. We will be staying on for 3 weeks post-convention and I was going to post other queries about the rest of our itinerary but want to clear up our Sydney stay first. Yes the Grace is the art Deco one and it looks quite interesting on the web whereas the Novotel just looks like your average big hotel and it is more expensive.
Sorry to hear Darling Harbour is a bit of a tourist trap. Not too surprising but can't be helped.
hacoah is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Friends and business colleagues of ours have all been pleased with the Grace.

It makes a pleasant walk to go to the convention centre across pyrmont bridge.If you are tired just catch the mono rail

you may find you are eating on the east side of darling harbour in any case.
johhj_au is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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Another public transport possibility to get from the city to Darling Harbour is the 443 bus that goes to the Casino. It leaves from behind the Queen Victoria Building which is very close to the Grace Hotel.
Susan7 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:00 PM
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Darling Habour is a bit of a tourist trap, you can stay in the ciy, its a short, nice walk. BTW, for the rest of your stay you could go to another place...

Where to stay -

Things to do -
999reasonsDotCom is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:07 PM
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Hi Hacoah,
I'm a local too & agree with the others - stay at the Grace. It's an interesting building and you'll be very close to everything without the anonymity of a "tourist" hotel like the Novotel. You don't want to spend your whole time in the Darling Harbour precinct.

Having been to (too!) many industry conventions & conferences, I understand what you mean about not being too far away; but there are advantages in not being "on campus" too. Not the least of which can be the mental & physical refresher a little walk morning & evening gives.

You can just walk South to Market Street (1 block) and across the bridge to the Convention Centre. Probably take you 10 - 15 mins at the outside. Or take the monorail from the Market St., station.
This link should give you a map, but if it doesn't, go to and enter Grace Hotel in the business section & it will lead you to it.

The restaurants along Cockle Bay and the King Street wharf are varied, good quality & value.

For a bit of fun, why not have a drink at the "Slipp Inn" hotel (Sussex & King Sts), where Danish Prince Frederick met his now wife, Princess Mary?. There's a nice little alfresco dining area at the back of the hotel.

We used to put interstate staffers up there and they were always very satisfied with it. (Apart from the fact that they were right across the road from the office (LOL)).

In this area you'll be amongst local CBD & have a much better view of the "real" Sydney. Good hotel, CBD on one corner opposite (excellent restaurant) and another (The Forbes) with what used to be a couple of pretty good bistros on the other.

The Queen Victoria Building is just a block away (good shopping) and department stores, David Jones & Myers also a few minutes stroll. Dymocks Book shop well worth a look - George Street.

If you're looking for an excellent (French) restaurant, try Becasse - 204 Clarence Street. Just off the corner of Clarence & Market.

Have fun

Bokhara is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 11:10 PM
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Just a note to the "White pages map".
It's wrong ... the Grace is on the Market Street side of King Street, with entrances in York Street (main), King and Clarence streets.
Bokhara is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 06:34 PM
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I agree the Grace would be a better choice and while I haven't been there for a few years (the parking is a hassle) it is in the middle of town with plenty of dining options.
Plus if you're an American you will find the history interesting as it was Gen. McArthur's HQ in WWII for a time.
The only problem I have had there is a bit of noisy very late when the Forbes was closing - maybe ask for a room on a higher floor and on the Western side.
Bokhara haven't been to Becasse but I can recommend Bistro 163 at the top of King Street.
A real "hole in the wall" where Paul Merroney turns out fantastic french-inspired bistro meals. You can BYO too if you want.
We have only been there for dinner (4 times) and it is usually pretty quiet. I think they do a big lunch trade.
I can be a real hard marker and have spent plenty in what I consider over-rated Sydney restaurants but this place is well priced and the food is consistent (my big gripe!) and very, very good.
Sorry if it sounds like an ad but I think if there was more emphisis on good service and good food rather than on-floor dramas and million dollar fit-outs Sydney dining would be a lot more enjoyable.
theshippingoffice is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 04:03 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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Thanks for the 163 King tip. Paul Merrony always does a top job
Bokhara is offline  
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