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Driven to a perfect getaway

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Travel writer Susie Boswell wraps up her series on ideal Sydney airport hotels for passengers seeking affordable secure car parking while away.

Novotel pool offers a refreshing swim for all passengers
A refreshing swim, pre- or post-flight, keeps junior passengers occupied

I’ve driven, solo and non-stop, four hours or so from north coastal NSW to my hotel at Sydney International Airport. I’m feeling a little tired now, ahead of flying out tomorrow.

As I arrive at the entrance two well-groomed men rush forward to greet me and to get the car door as I alight. One is impeccable in a suit and tie, the second sports an impressive uniform with epaulettes. The first is one of Novotel Sydney Airport’s concierges. The other chap, I learn, is a pilot with a foreign airline, like me, a guest at the hotel. He saw me drive up, hadn’t noticed the concierge emerge, and was simply leaping forward to help unload my luggage.

‘4.5-star Novotel is the first choice… such is its proximity to the International Terminal’

It turns out the 4.5-star Novotel is the first choice of crew of a number of leading overseas airlines, such is its perfect proximity to the International Terminal, on the other side of the road, across a golf course and overlooking the vast expanse of the airport’s taxiways and runways. But it’s even more popular with impending passengers like me.

Novotel Sydney Airport is impressive
An impressive start to an impressive stay

Few of us, if honest, have the sangfroid to be entirely nonchalant about catching an international flight. To run late, flustered, or more so to miss the gate entirely, has so many implications: a mislaid travel document, misplaced hand luggage, a dropped sweater (or, horror, a child’s favourite toy) and so on. Then: there’s revised travel, accommodation and itinerary arrangements to be made, at cost, and even the risk of partner disharmony, throwing a pall over the entire trip.

Airlines firmly advise arriving three hours before your flight's departure time to allow for check-in, baggage drop, sorting any issues, and clearing security and customs. And despite the best-laid plans by the most punctual of people, it’s very easy to be delayed enroute to Sydney International. Unlike in the movies, taxi drivers will not drive like maniacs to make up for the city’s frequent, unpredictable, traffic jams. Airport personnel and other passengers will not miraculously part the waters to make up for your predicament.

Hence: Novotel.

The pleasant welcome I’d enjoyed was to be the leitmotif of my stay. My luggage had been taken inside before I drove in to the hotel’s impressive underground car park: there’s heaps of room for vehicles - not supermarket-style sardine spaces. I would be leaving my car here while away on my trip, no need to fret that tight spots would see me return to scratched side doors; no worries if a hailstorm hit, with my SUV safely under cover.

Novotel has all the amenities to ensure a fantastic trip from the start
The hotel scale offers peace of mind well prior to check-in

I emerged from the lift into the lobby to find Reception anticipating my arrival, prepped with room keys coded, check-in documentation ready for signing, my questions answered before asked, and a porter standing ready with my bags.

It seems catering to both airline personnel and passengers, where time is always of the essence, means delivering snappy service is second nature.

My eye was caught by a cute feature stationed next to the desk: a replica airport aid in the form of a scale to check luggage weights, for guests’ reference. Handy!

My room was already warmed to just the right level – a nice touch, the wide king bed deeply comfortable; sofa, ottoman and TV screen ideally placed for me to collapse to take some time out; double-glazing and blockout curtains; a work desk; generous easily-accessible wardrobe; marbled bathroom a touch of luxury. And the dozen other amenities one expects, such as wifi, coffee, iron, safe, hairdryer and so on, all in place.

But what grabbed me right away was the view through the tall windows to the golden glow of the airport’s lights with dusk just fallen, silhouetting the comings and goings of those buzzy airport ground-vehicles, catering trucks, luggage carts and the massive skybirds soaring upwards, settling down on the tarmac and taxiing about. A Iittle boy’s Tonka Toys fantasy come true, perhaps. For me: hinting at the thrill of my impending departure the following day.

‘It’s child-friendly – special rooms, a dedicated activity centre and kids’ gifts’

Speaking of the little ones, Novotel boasts it’s family-friendly: family rooms and interconnecting rooms are offered at good rates and for all junior guests there’s special gifts in the form of mini soft-stuffed marine animals and a variety of activity-play sets.

There are children’s channels on the room TV and the hotel features a dedicated kids’ corner where movies are shown and games can be played on an interactive electronic game table. Nice one, Novotel!

‘The open-air pool and discounted extended parking are winners’

Other aspects of my first-time stay here that grabbed me were the restaurant, bar, entertainment, pool and gym. Marke restaurant won my admiration for its generous and hygienic buffet breakfast. Normally, and despite often premium room rates, I can’t abide what’s often congealed scrambled eggs, greasy bacon and standard bain-marie fodder, with other guests snatching at your slices on the - ever-slow, or malfunctioning - toasting machine and hovering breathily too near over jugs of juice and milk.

Marke’s buffet is very well laid out, spacious along a flowing crescent, dishes covered as appropriate, not lying in bulk to stew or become cold but replenished appropriately by eagle-eyed staff. I found the roving table service impeccable, waiters alert to suggest fresh coffee, noting more butter or honey needed, offering to process extra toast, removing used plates. Marke opens at 6:30am seven days, provides 24-hour room service and I’m told a food pack is available for those leaving earlier for the first flights of the day.

Marke's buffet at Novotel offers substantial meals
A substantial way to start out on a long journey

The restaurant continues on through lunch and dinner to 10pm daily, the adjacent cocktail bar open till 11 five nights for drinks and snacks, with live entertainment on Friday evenings.

Lying beside the gym is the piece de resistance for me: an open-air pool with views clear through the airspace to city landmarks including Sydney Tower and Crown at Barangaroo.

More than 120 of its own on-site undercover parking spaces make this spot the airport precinct’s best for secure parking for international travellers. Stay, Park & Fly packages begin at one night’s accommodation for two with shuttle transfers, and are standard for three nights and seven nights. Additional nights added to the packages are offered at a discounted rate of from $10 a car – outstanding, unmatchable value in my long experience, at the airport, as well as elsewhere in the city. This indeed is a hotel perfectly dedicated to travellers.


Novotel Sydney International Airport

Reservations and inquiries - Tel: +61 2 9518 2000


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