To begin our Darwin to Perth road trip (and squeeze as much in between work as possible), we got a late night Jetstar flight from Sydney to Darwin. It departed at 9:00 pm and arrived at 1:05 am in the morning. Hence, since it was so late by the time we left and we were able to do a full day at work as normal before our flight, I figure it hardly counts as a day, and so I call it day 0. Being a Jetstar flight it was not super comfortable, but we were able to get a little bit of sleep on the plane at least. Even so, it was pretty tiring, so we were looking forward to getting into a proper bed and sleeping for a few hours.
I have to admit the Darwin airport is bigger than I expected, but given how late we got there, we were eager to get to bed and didn’t spend any more time there than absolutely necessary. We were quickly outside where we were hit by 27°C temperatures and very high humidity. We expected it, but it was still a shock to the system after our highs at home of 22°C and lows of 5°C from the few weeks before the trip.
Outside the airport, we followed Henry Wrigley Drive around to the Mercure Airport Hotel where we had booked to spend the rest of the morning hopefully asleep. It’s located at 1 Sir Norman Brearley Drive, which is about a 500m walk, so not too far. However, the airport was very busy, and there were plenty of taxi’s around in case the walk was too much.
One thing to note though is that we followed the road, but we discovered once we got to the intersection with Sir Norman Brearley Drive that there is actually a path through the car park that you can follow. It will bring you out near the intersection which has the Novotel on one side and the Mercure hotel on the other.
While there is not much difference between the two hotels regarding distance, the Novotel is on the side of the road closer to the airport than the Mercure. Cost wise they are also the same price for their cheapest rooms. We picked the Mercure just because the place looked a bit more exciting with an island themed entry and open resort style. It reminded me a lot of the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Unfortunately, though, for some reason, I don’t seem to have any photos of the entry to show you.
So we were booked in at the Mercure Airport Hotel in Darwin, staying in a Superior Queen Room. When we arrived, we were pleased to find the reception manned with a friendly concierge that got us checked in to our room very promptly. We were booked into Superior Queen Room 210. It was lovely, and though it was a bit different to the pictures online it was very comfortable and well air conditioned, something that we managed at our house with the help of guys from HVAC air conditioning repair in San Diego. I cannot begin to describe how appreciative we were that the air conditioning had been turned on before we arrived and so the room was sitting at about 18°C.
The room was similar to what I would expect at an Ibis Budget in that it was basically a concrete box. However, it has nicer furniture with a lot more storage, a much more comfortable bed, a better bathroom and rather than a small square window it has a sliding door out to a small patio looking into the resort gardens. So while the room was a simple concrete box it had been turned into quite a pleasant place to stay, and the gardens outside did make for some relaxing viewing for the brief little while we got to enjoy them.
Now, as the name “Superior Queen Room” suggests, the bed is a queen size bed. We found it to be a comfortable bed to sleep on, it was a little bit towards the soft side for us as stomach sleepers, but not so soft that we couldn’t sleep on our stomach’s. The room had a small bag rack as well as a large wardrobe for storage. The wardrobe was actually quite huge, but it does also contain a shelf with the kettle and typical tea and coffee supplies. It also holds the ironing board, iron and safe.
Moving on to the desk, it does have an ethernet port and wifi is available in the room. The internet is free for Accor Le Club members. Otherwise, it is way overpriced. The desk also holds the TV which is a medium-small flat screen. We didn’t use the TV at all in our short stay so can’t really comment on it.
Under the desk is also the bar fridge. There isn’t a mini-bar in the room, though, so it just has some milk and cold water, and I can honestly say I’ve never been more appreciative of cold water!
The desk chair was comfortable enough as the only chair physically inside the room, but probably not so comfortable I would want to be sitting on it for hours on end. Fortunately, out the door, our patio featured a small table with two chairs for enjoying the garden views, and while the chairs are just simple outdoor seats, they are reasonably comfortable and do provide an extra place to sit if needed when two people are booked into the room.
In the bathroom, it was just a simple shower, toilet and vanity setup that was showing its age. The shower itself ran fine, but the exhaust fan sounded like a jet was taking off which was really frustrating since I was trying to shower quietly before waking up wifey. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a louder exhaust fan. Everything was just your simple but typical home style bathroom. So while I do expect a little nicer from the Mercure, it was still quite comfortable and was only their basic room after all.
For some reason, our room had a network switch in one corner that flashed a lot and made a high pitch humming noise. This was a little bit annoying as the disco flashing yellow/green lights are not conducive to sleep, and the high pitch noise stood out well above the air conditioner making it quite annoying. I would not expect this is in every Superior Queen Room, but it was in ours and unfortunately that puts a bit of a damper on the hotel for us as a whole. We were too tired and hot to worry too much, especially given the air con and fan made their own noises anyway, and they were definitely left running all night. If we were there on a regular stay we probably would have requested a different room and I imagine this would bother a lot of people, so I don’t understand why it was put inside a room at all.
In the morning we got to see the resort a little bit better. The open air reception really is very much a tropical island style, and behind it, there is a beautiful pool that it would have been great to enjoy if we had the time. Checkout didn’t take long, and a free taxi phone was available for us to call a cab and get on our way.
We did find out in the morning that there is a shuttle bus available to and from the airport to the hotel as well, for both the Mercure and the Novotel. So if you would rather not do the walk, that is a possibility and something I will keep in mind in the future.
One major positive I will put out there is that I did not notice any plane noise from the airport which is really surprising. I don’t know if that’s just because we were tired or maybe because of the noise from the network switch and air conditioning, but whatever the reason it was really nice to not hear planes taking off and landing.
So overall, for the price, we were happy with the room and the service of the Mercure reception staff. The noisy and bright network switch in the room was a big downer, though, and as a result of that, if I had to stay at a Darwin airport hotel again, I’d pick the Novotel instead. Plus, the Novotel is slightly closer to the airport, so that’s also a positive I guess. That said if I was staying in a more expensive room at the Mercure that would also probably be ok, but who wants to pay for a more expensive room just to avoid a network switch that (at least in my opinion) shouldn’t even be in a hotel bedroom in the first place?