Sofitel Sydney “Paris Dreaming” Event- A touch of French Elegance in Darling Harbour
Since Sofitel Sydney at Darling Harbour opened its glorious doors in October 2017 to the public, I have been desperately trying to make the time to take a peek. Sofitel at Darling Harbour is a stunning luxury hotel, operated by Accor – a French multinational hotel group, and as a consequence references France in their elegant rooms designed with French touches and where every space from the lobby, bars and restaurants’ throughout are French inspired. The Hotel’s spectacular Champagne Bar and Atelier Restaurant offer French cuisine in superb settings and where the hotel’s glorious selection of French wine and Champagne can be enjoyed in a lounge with breathtaking views of Darling Harbour from their floor to ceiling windows. Last week, an opportunity and excuse to check out Sofitel finally arrived and to my pleasure and joy came as a double French opportunity to experience the hotel for the first time by attending a wonderful “Paris Dreaming Dinner” event, organised by Sally Burleigh of Agency B & Co, at the hotel’s magnificent Atelier Restaurant on its third floor.
The dinner/book/French event was a gathering of a few of our most talented Australian female writers and journalists to discuss not only all things French but to touch on their personal reflections of and experiences in France and the inspiration behind their Paris memoirs. Paris was the chief evocative theme for the evening and the audience, a gathering of Francophiles from all over Sydney, were mesmerised by the authors’ who captivated all with their stories while experiencing the superb hospitality and setting of the Atelier Restaurant at Sofitel. The event was a personal dream come true for me as I had the opportunity to meet and converse with award winning writers and journalists Katerina Lawrence, Sarah Turnbull, Jane De Teliga and Catherine Baum.
Meeting the lovely, accomplished, soft spoken and humble Sarah Turnbull was especially of importance as I had read her award winning Paris memoir “Almost French” years ago a number of times and have kept it by my bedside table collection of books that continues to inspire and motivate me personally to write about all things French in Sydney. On the evening, Sarah delighted the audience with news of an upcoming movie to be made based on her “Almost French” memoir. The alluring, intellectual and inspiring beauty writer/journalist and author Katerina Lawrence, whose most recent and enchanting memoir “Paris Dreaming”, was a delight to speak with and listen to as she articulately and poetically spoke to all about her love affair and connection with Paris. Katerina’s memoir on “what the City of Light taught her about life, love and lipstick”, is a dedication of her lifelong love and devotion to Paris but is also a historic reflection of Paris and French culture where she reveals some surprising and interesting facts and insights of the past and about the historic figures of France. The bubbly, chic, humorous and inspiring Jane De Teliga, fashion journalist and author, delightfully spoke of her enviable time in Paris and memoir “Running Away From Home” – a personal recount of pursuing her life long dream of living in Paris. The intriguing, sophisticated and surprisingly French speaking journalist, photographer, author and broadcaster Caroline Baum took the lead as speaker for the evening offering insights into her new book “ONLY, A Singular Memoir”, her Parisian background and her haunting family ties to Paris.
SOFITEL’S ATELIER RESTAURANT & CHAMPAGNE BAR
As you enter the hotel’s expansive and beautiful lobby filled with magnificently furnished conversation and meeting zones where dazzling light fixtures and bottles of French wine and champagne elegantly rest inside a glass vitrine immediately put guests under a French spell. As you exit the lift onto the hotel’s third floor you will instantly be overwhelmed by the spectacular interiors and whimsical French inspired furniture and views onto Darling Harbour. The impressive grand displays of over-sized French champagne bottles placed inside stunning glass shelving which double as a space divider that separates the Champagne bar’s lounge area with the hotel’s incredible Atelier restaurant. On the evening of the “Paris Dreaming” event, I had the opportunity to experience the glorious Champagne Bar while chatting away to the authors’ and guests while sipping on the delightful Perrier Jouet champagne – Sofitel’s signature drink as well as dine in the Atelier restaurant and taste Atelier’s delicious cuisine while listening to some enticing French conversation.
Atelier in French translates to an artist’s or craftsmen’s studio and here at the Sofitel, the culinary craftsmen or brilliant chefs work their magic and display their fine skills in preparing superbly crafted cuisine inspired by the South of France. On the evening, I was blown away as I entered the restaurant’s magnificent space the impressive open plan grill and crimson red open plan kitchen adds to the sheer drama of the third floor as flames flair and chefs adorned in signature white perform the art of cooking for all to see. Once inside the space, the beautiful wood panelled walls and soft toned wood furniture evoke a feeling of warmth and calm while the warm, rich and inviting redish tones in the banquet seating offer an appetising contrast to the space. A wooden feature wall with soft green glass shelving create depth and interest to the space as well as offer an additional nod to the contemporary side to the design. The ceiling design is of fanned out wood offering a touch of Island feel to the space calling to mind a restaurant I had experienced in French Polynesia years ago. On the evening, guests were accommodated beautifully throughout the space and seated in the elegantly set tables, banquets and central dining space while the guest authors were seated along an elongated table to the front of the restaurant with a stunning wood panelled wall as a backdrop.
Every guest was made to feel special with their own personalised seating arrangement adorned with a stem of lavender and menu that listed the three courses to be experienced throughout the evening. Service was outstanding to say the least with ongoing water and “Aix Rose” Champagne refills without having the need to request and the set menu – a superb choice by the restaurant’s head chef offering a taste of the restaurants seafood menu items. The beautiful dishes served reflected the French traditional techniques and art of presentation regarded highly at Atelier – a menu I will certainly return to experience again very soon. As the celebrated authors’ discussed all things Paris and the pros and cons of living in France guests dined on a set menu of ocean trout crudo for entrée with citrus fruit salsa and crunchy fennel and apple, prawns a la Provencale for main with ratatouille emulsion and vegetable “en fete”. For dessert guests were served a delightful and unforgettable caramel parfait – Frangelico cream centred inside choux pastry with an espresso sponge with fleur de sel and valrhona dulcey parfait. Guests also generously received a lovely Sofitel signature gift bag containing a beautiful L’Occitane En Provence lavender hand cream and a discount card for their next L’Occitane purchase. At the end of the evening guests gathered by the book display to purchase the memoirs and to have books signed and photos taken with the authors’ who were so kind, warm and gracious to all.
Sofitel Darling Harbour is the first 5-star hotel built here in Sydney since the year 2000 when the city hosted the Sydney Olympics. Aside from Sofitel hotel’s lovely dining options, the hotel offers other French inspired spaces to enjoy throughout as well as just under 600 rooms with a French/contemporary aesthetic for that very necessary and additional sense of luxury. Take a lift up to the hotel’s 35th floor and enjoy a drink at the Club Millesime Lounge with the most remarkable views of Darling Harbour and and the CBD. If you’re in need of some refreshment, cooling down or perhaps a spot of sunshine drop by the Le Rivage Pool Deck Bar which offers guests an infinity edge pool overlooking beautiful Sydney – an impressive place to gather and take in the sights. Also pay a visit to Sofitel’s Esprit Noir Bar where conversation with friends or a special rendezvous is made more memorable and relaxing and where you can enjoy a delicious High Tea or evening cocktail in typical French style. Throughout the year, the hotel hosts French inspired events and celebrates France’s days of significance in their own signature style offering guests a wonderful dose of joie de vivre to their visit and stay (visit the Sofitel’s website for more information). Keep tuning in to my blog site throughout the year as I post my re visits and experiences at Sofitel and hope that you too will come by and pay a visit to this gorgeous hotel which is a fine example of the re-modernisation and rebuilding of Sydney that Sydney siders have to look forward to in the near future. Thank you to Atelier and to the wonderful authors’ who made the evening one to always cherish and remember and for keeping me in a French daze for days. Dear readers, are you entranced by Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour inspired by all things France?
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
12 Darling Drive, Sydney T: o2 8388 8888
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