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Bates Smart does old-school hotel sophistication

A fresh and modern interior is in keeping with the Novotel brand and revitalised Darling Harbour area.

Darling Harbour, Sydney, has been undergoing a major redevelopment with a new convention centre, urban neighbourhood and new dining and entertainment attractions.

Capitalising on this transformation, Novotel Sydney Darling Square Hotel has also had a makeover to renovate and reposition the property to appeal to both business and leisure travellers. Bates Smart redesigned the lobby, bar and restaurant to create a fresh and modern interior in keeping with the Novotel brand.

“The brief required a streamlined check-in and lobby experience and a new look, feel and functionality for the ground-level bar and all-day dining,” says Bates Smart Director Brenton Smith.

“The space has a presence from the exterior and we also wanted to grab the attention of traffic passing the hotel.”

To keep to the modest budget, Bates Smart retained, reused and enhanced existing elements wherever possible. A warm, youthful material palette is casual and approachable to broaden the hotel’s appeal to a wider market.

Pattern, texture and natural materials, such as timbers, linens and stone, are inspired by the local context, and accents of polished brass and leather contrast with the rawer materials.

A dry-stone wall behind the check-in desks provides a textured backdrop evoking the local sandstone, while the deep-turquoise-coloured hand-tufted carpet is reminiscent of the harbour water.

Bates Smart connected the lobby and bar to create more activity at the entrance. Chairs have enveloping organic forms and rich-red and grey upholstery to contrast with the limed-oak floors and white-washed timbers. The double-height back bar divides the bar and all-day-dining restaurant, with bronze mesh screens retaining the sense of openness.

The restaurant is a light and bright space with white timber boards cladding the walls and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Darling Harbour and the city.

Corporate Art commissioned local artist Christopher McKenzie to create the installation on the rear wall. The series of origami-inspired birds reference the nearby Chinese gardens and symbolise the flight of visitors in and out of Sydney.

The staircase connects the lobby, bar and restaurant with a balustrade formed out of vertical timber handrails. Lighting on the balustrade and throughout the interior highlights the textures of the natural materials and accentuates the bronze accents.

The transformation sees a fresh new Novotel with modern design and a relaxed vibe to complement its revitalised surroundings.

Photography by Anson Smart.

See other projects by Bates Smart here.

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