Tucked away in plain sight in the centre of Pyrmont, Aiden Darling Harbour is all about catering to the modern traveller – who, in this case, is a ship-in-the-night type, a person who's all about very clean (and very compact) spaces, swifty Dyson hair dryers and minimalist tiny-house vibes. This hotel is understatedly luxe – but fret not, it won’t cost you your left leg.
Built in an existing 1930s Art Deco building, Aiden is the first of Great Western's boutique brand Down Under, with it bringing old-world charm to a contemporary space by marrying classic hotel touches (like mammoth fluffy white beds) with futuristic notions of sustainability and tech, (like a touch-screen self check-in station and an F7 air filtration system that blitzes COVID-19 particles).
The lobby is small but sleek, home to a tiny stretch of cafe tables and a marble bar peddling all kinds of beverages and snacks. With its shiny chrome touches and grey and gold accents, it offers a little oasis of calm away from the bustling thoroughfare that is Pyrmont’s Murray Street.
The warm front-of-house staff at the Aiden do a little bit of everything – showing you how to check yourself in using a touchscreen (hello, future), whipping you up a mean cappuccino and/or negroni, and telling you all about the sweet spots to visit around Pyrmont. This is a place that prides itself on its modernity and convenience, so you won’t have to line-up for ages while checking in late here.
Despite being a hotel that professes itself to be ‘designed by travellers, for travellers’, the Aiden is also good for Sydney locals wanting to hit the Big Smoke, or just those who are passing through Sydney not wanting to stay long. For me, a life-long Sydneysider, a night spent in the sharply air-conditioned arms of the Aiden offered an evening of hotel lushness, a sparkly new look at Darling Harbour, and an exciting bed to return to after a night out on the town.
However, it's worth noting that if heading here with someone else, you should be prepared for not a lot of room. Designed to be as space-efficient as possible, the Aiden does have some interior rooms that look out towards a brick wall – but said wall is painted with a gigantic and florid rainforest mural by Jessica Le Clerc (the artist who also hand-painted a huge native Australian mural in every single room) which makes even this kind of room-without-a-view experience still pretty and pleasant.
With 88 rooms and seven floors, the Aiden offers a wide range of accommodation options, with the best rooms coming with balconies and sweeping views of Darling Harbour’s shimmering skyline. As it is with most things, these rooms are more expensive, clocking in from $399, while the rooms with city views, but no balconies start at $299 a night. The smaller interior rooms that are made specifically for the blow-in, blow-out type of travellers, start at $229 a night.
Despite this subtle price disparity, the rooms all come with the same cool stuff. Dyson appliances, colossal Sleepmaker beds, light and bright curved interiors, a pillow menu and a marble rain shower are just some of the little touches that elevate this experience up a level, meaning that no matter which room you’re in, you can make the most of the luxe flexes.
Ultimately, Aiden Darling Harbour is a nifty little place to rest your head. Whether it be on a fleeting business trip, a landing pad after dinner and show, or a trip to Sydney where your focus is traversing the city and not staying in your hotel room all day.
Also, get the avocado toast in the morning. It’s totally worth it.