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A stress-free winter staycation with Novotel

Darling Harbour

Tired as they come to the end of another school term, both the kids seem to be suffering from a full-blown case of the winter blues. And if I’m being honest, so do I. Snarky kids will do that to a person. So we’ve decided that a stress free mini-break is in order. So stress free that we’re not even leaving town. We’re taking a ten-minute ferry ride on a wet and wintery weekend for a staycation at the Novotel on Darling Harbour.

Why so close? Darling Harbour is not only a hub of family fun, but the majority of its attractions are undercover and just waiting to be explored, which is perfect for a cold and rainy winter weekend in Sydney.

And why Novotel? Well, for starters accommodation and breakfast are free for 2 children under 16. But more importantly there’s always, at the very least, a little corner of kid friendly fun at Novotel, and our kids are always treated like VIPs.

novotel darling harbour kids

This visit proves no exception. Novotel have turned up the fun factor with a backpack full of Angry Bird excitement waiting in our spacious and contemporary family room. Part of a the winter school holidays promotion, there are instant prizes to be won at 24 participating Novotel hotels across Australia including $500 Accor gift cards, hotel food & beverage vouchers, Angry Birds movie merchandise and Angry Birds Series DVDs. Plus, winners also get to take home an Angry Birds character toy at the end of their stay.

When we can drag them away from their goodies, we decide to head out to explore Darling Harbour. Of course, it starts to bucket down at this exact moment. But this doesn’t worry us one bit as the Novotel has access to an undercover airbridge that leads straight into Harbourside, where plenty of family fun awaits. We hop from Kingpin Bowling to M9 Laser Skirmish, a perfect place for the kids to shoot off a little end of term frustration… and their parents. My son is also a big fan of 9D cinema, where he and his dad go on a snow strewn virtual rollercoaster ride.

The kids would be happy to spend the whole weekend skipping between Habrourside’s attractions, but it’s just a hop skip and a jump to the Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World, Madame Tussauds and Imax. And the Australian National Maritime Museum is so close we don’t even need an umbrella to reach it.

novotel darling harbour kids

We lunch at Chinatown, stop for ice-cream in Darling Harbour and dine in at The Ternary, the Novotel on Darling Harbour’s brilliantly interactive dining venue. With its pretty views of the Sydney City skyline and exceptional menu, the restaurant is a constant pleasant buzz of romancing couples, business people and happy families, including this one. An open Asian and Grill kitchen setup means that the kids could chat up the friendly chefs while their dad and I chat up the bar staff.

And the food? The kids both give it a ten out of ten, though that may have as much to do with the giant jars of sticky sweet Eton Mess their kitchen pals send their way after they’ve gobbled their way through share plates of Asian delicacies and stacks of grilled seafood.

After dinner there’s time to head back to our room, don our PJ's and snuggle up to watch a movie in bed! Bliss.

novotel darling harbour kids

Sadly, our weekend must come to an end and we're heading straight from the hotel to school on Monday morning via ferry, but not before a big buffet breakfast, something the Novotel always does exceedingly well.

The kids fill up on the regulation bacon and eggs, fruit, yoghurt and fresh baked pastries. They may or may not have also snuck a few extra pastries into their school lunch boxes because my son declares it's the weekend away that just keeps giving¯.

When she’s not treading on Lego and being forced to watch Frozen on loop, Aleney de Winter is a travel, food and parenting writer. She shares tales of travelling and eating along with the hilarious antics of her globetrotting six-year old foodie son and daredevil three-year old daughter on her blog, Boy Eats World.

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