Review: Sofitel SPA Darling Harbour

Sofitel Spa - Credit to Anna Kucera
Sofitel Spa - Credit to Anna Kucera

We visit one of Sydney’s newest luxury spas at the five-star Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.

Arriving at the two-storey Sofitel SPA Darling Harbour, which opened in April 2023, I pass the hotel’s inviting outdoor pool area and indoor fitness zone before I make it to the spa’s warm timber door adorned with detailing that resembles the sun’s rays.

I’m greeted at the reception area and offered a glass of iced water that is infused with lemongrass, ginger and honey. In the women’s change room and infrared sauna, I slip into a velvety Sofitel SPA robe and biodegradable linen and cork slippers, as French jazz music plays through the sound system.

Moving throughout the various zones of the spa, I feel a sense of calm, enhanced by the thoughtful design elements adopted by award-winning design firm, Pike Withers. There are seven treatment rooms and two suites — one includes a freestanding bathtub beneath the window, overlooking Darling Harbour. Timbers, sandstone and marble finishes are inspired by the surrounding waters of Sydney Harbour.

Popular treatments include a series of luxe and tailored half-day Wellness Journeys, inspired by the natural rhythm of the seasons and incorporating the elements of movement, nourishment, care, and rest. Facial treatments involve the use of the French brand, Biologique Recherche, while phyto-therapy facials use products from the Australian botanical brand Waterlily, handcrafted in Brisbane.

During my visit, I’m here to experience a 90-minute organic honey wrap, designed to deeply hydrate the skin with rich cocoa and honey steeped in vanilla crème mousse.

The lead spa therapist, Frankie Fitzgerald, guides me to my private treatment room. Through the sheer curtains hanging on the half-sized windows, I can see the waters of Darling Harbour sparkling below.

As Frankie begins a full body exfoliation on my skin, using a vanilla bean crème body polish, followed by an infusion of the organic honey and cocoa body wrap, I notice the music has changed from the soft jazz in the changing rooms to a soundtrack of tranquil, earthy sounds of the natural elements.

Frankie had given me the choice of a foot or scalp massage as part of the treatment. Usually, one to avoid a scalp massage, I figure it’s going to be a quality session here in Frankie’s safe hands — I’m not disappointed as she begins, with a waft of the Waterlily Aroma Therapy serum, titled Joy, with sweet almond oil greeting my senses.

Mid-way through the treatment, I use the adjoining shower room to wash off my scrub, which I can feel my tired, dry skin has absorbed like a sponge. I head back into the treatment area for part two, which involves a hydration treatment with vanilla bean body balm.

The benefits of this session, as Frankie later explains, is that it’s a deeply hydrating, nourishing, and anti-inflammatory treatment, helping to refine skin texture and remove dead skin cells. Cocoa and honey are used as they are powerful antioxidants, beneficial for protecting the skin from free radicals, environmental damage, and premature aging.

Afterwards, feeling restored and peaceful (and my skin feeling like silk), Frankie escorts me to the Relaxation Lounge where I am invited to recline on a comfortable lounge chair, as she places a bolster beneath my knees and draws a plush, sheepskin-style blanket over my legs. She soon returns with a black chai tea and a canapé of pear with whipped almond feta, vegan cheese, radicchio jam, and edible flowers.

We discuss the products that were used and the spa’s collaboration with Waterlily.

“The brand we work with are our wellness partners, Waterlily, based in Brisbane,” says Frankie. “They have a very naturopathic and holistic approach to wellness and spa experiences. They use a lot of fresh botanicals and cold-pressed oils to maintain the integrity of their products.”

Surrounding me in the Relaxation Lounge are native flowers set on timber side tables; armchairs upholstered in a natural, olive-green weave; and a refreshment station where you can help yourself to nuts and dried fruits or orange and lemon-infused water. There’s also a small pattern on paper and a cardboard box of Sofitel Spa pencils for those who might like to mindfully colour in the pattern. I prefer to sit in the stillness, gazing at the Darling Harbour views while I finish my chai tea.

Approaching the spring season, Sofitel SPA Darling Harbour has designed a five-hour wellness experience (involving three hours of treatment) utilising the benefits of rose, rose geranium and lavender to deeply soothe, relax and reduce the signs of ageing. The treatment stages include body exfoliation with a spring body polish, infused with a body wrap; aromatherapy massage with a spring aroma blend; and a rose peptide facial.


The spa has adopted the use of digital forms, supplies guests with fully compostable linen slippers, and uses eco amenities. A thorough recycling program is used and water flow regulators in showers and movement-activated light sensors in change rooms are designed to conserve energy. The spa is also working to ensure its partners shift their packaging from plastic to glass.

The Sofitel Spa is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00am to 7:00pm.

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