A warm cookie upon arrival, spacious and comfortable rooms, and smiles all round are but a few reasons to book your Darwin stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin.
DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin is centrally located on the Esplanade, right behind the main drag, Mitchell Street. A quick turn out of the lobby through the breezeway and you’re in the CBD. The view overlooking the beautiful Bicentennial Park and the Arafura Sea outside the hotel is stunning but frustrating at the same time. I mean, the foreshore and water is about as seductive as it gets in a constant 34°C climate, but the knowledge that you can’t swim in that alluring, albeit croc-infested, ocean is a little tough to bear. Luckily, the hotel has the largest pool in Darwin.
A 20-minute walk along the foreshore in Bicentennial Park will connect you to Darwin’s historic heart as well as to its waterfront complex, complete with culinary delights such as Wharf One and a host of other dining options, and the Big Buoy Water Park, for those who want to get wet. Head into the town for open-air bars, food joints, supermarkets and retail, or pop into Crocosaurus Cove for a unique encounter with one of the oldest and most terrifying creatures on the planet.
Style and character
Walk in and you’ll immediately experience what DoubleTree is all about: a sweet greeting and a signature DoubleTree warm cookie – eat it while it’s warm. The cookie represents “constant dedication to our guests and thoughtful touches that ensure you feel special and cared for throughout your stay”, says general manager Martin Rogers.
You can also customise your welcome, with DoubleTree’s ‘Requests Upon Arrival’ program. Want hard pillows, rose petals on your hotel room floor, champagne on arrival or specific medicines? Just ask and thy will be done.
An icy glass of Kakadu Plum Spritzer made by Indigenous locals for Karen Sheldon Catering is welcomed and quickly slurped down – so tasty. The lobby is cool, open and airy, with Aqua restaurant looking over the super-inviting pool area, and plenty of lounges to sit and enjoy a drink or three. The space is artfully renovated and decorated with a mix of traditional and modern Indigenous artworks, carvings and sculptures, as well as special urns painted by head chef Madusha’s wife.
I arrive on a Sunday, which is when DoubleTree opens the pool up to the whole community, and puts on a big family BBQ to boot. The staff are super friendly and just so accommodating. Every time you walk in you’re asked if there’s anything you need. No job too big or small. Smiles guaranteed. DoubleTree has a staff wellbeing program in place from which guests also benefit.
“[email protected] is a framework focused on enabling our Team Members to grow and flourish in Body, Mind and Spirit. We are committed to supporting the well-being and performance of all our Team Members so that they can thrive in all that they do and can be their best self every day,” says Martin.
The happy faces dotted all over the hotel are evidence that the program works.
I stayed in a king studio loft, which was a spacious split-level room featuring lounge, desk, minibar, espresso machine, flat-screen TVs upstairs and down, and two bathrooms (shower upstairs). The Sweet Dreams by DoubleTree beds are difficult to resist and so comfortable. The room features great views, free wifi, clean and stylish décor, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries, superb comfort and a perfect place to unwind after a busy day exploring the Top End’s capital and surrounds.
Food and drink
Take a seat inside the air-conditioned restaurant or sit outside in the breezy undercover area alongside the pool and sip a cold beer or frosty sav blanc as you peruse a menu bursting with innovative flavours inspired by the Top End.
The buffet breakfast menu is one of the finest I’ve sampled, with scrambled eggs, bacon, warm vegetables, eggs hollandaise and benedict to hand, as well as fresh fruits, congee, cereals, granolas, yoghurts and pastries. You can even make your own fresh waffles and pancakes and the staff are happy to whip you up a fresh smoothie (if you ask them nicely – actually, they’ll ask you). There’s also a mouth-watering a la carte menu to get your day started the right way.
For lunch try the pink peppercorn dusted calamari, sweet corn and capsicum fritters, butter chicken and open steak sandwiches. And dinner at Aqua is a casual, yet quality affair, with a menu featuring 10-hour braised pork belly, NT barramundi, lime and mint lamb rump, tagliatelle and char-grilled chicken breast and more.
If you’re lucky you may get to try what I call Top End KFC (Kentucky Fried Crocodile) – beautifully crispy, lightly spiced crocodile tail pieces topped with a tangy aioli.
There’s also in-room dining and nibbles by the pool. And you’re spoilt for choice by the beer, wine, spirits and cocktails menu.
If you really want to treat yourself (without spending an arm and a leg – save them for the crocs), head next door to the Northern Territory’s top restaurant – Hanuman.
DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin also serves as the city’s arts and entertainment hub, with the Darwin Entertainment Centre within the same complex as the hotel. Sit down to a meal at Hanuman then see a comedy show, live performance from the Darwin Symphony Orchestra or any number of in-season performances.
Wander down the street and enjoy an exciting urban wildlife experience at Crocosaurus Cove, or meander on through to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market on Thursday or Sunday evenings, depending on the time of year. There are myriad restaurants, bars and nightlife options close by. Mitchell Street is a popular hub for tourists, so you’ll never be short of an enthusiastic traveller with whom to strike up a conversation.
There’s also the Deckchair Cinema; the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels – fascinating hand dug tunnels that have been converted to a museum; historic buildings and sites; spend the afternoon at the Wharf Precinct and drop into the Royal Flying Doctor Service visitor centre, for a fascinating look at the history of the RFDS or a virtual tour of the bombing of Darwin.
Book a Darwin Day Tour and visit Litchfield National Park to see the termite mounds or a refreshing swim in one of the many famous waterholes, waterfalls and billabongs. The more adventurous may wish to take the jumping crocodile tour.
Rates are seasonal and always changing. For the best deal on accommodation, visit www.doubletree.com. And if you find a better rate elsewhere, DoubleTree will match it and then give you a further 25 per cent off.
The hotel deserves, on the whole, a big thumbs up: location, accommodation, food and drink all get an A, but the staff are the reason you should book a stay at DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin – like I said, super friendly and nothing is too much trouble to make your stay memorable.
You can’t swim in that beautiful-looking bay right outside the front door. And they won’t give you the cookie recipe (although you can take a full cookie jar home)!
Leon stayed at DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin as a guest of NT Tourism.