Choosing The Argus Hotel Darwin
When researching places to stay while I was hitting up the Northern Territory’s capital, I was torn between two haunts: the Darwin City Hotel and the Argus Hotel Darwin. Both were comparatively very affordable modern hotels with very positive guest reviews close to town and featured a pool.
I chose the Argus over the Darwin City Hotel based almost exclusively because of the room size. At 26m2 for the Superior Room, the Argus is more than a third larger than the Darwin City Hotel. Other things that helped me decide on the Argus was that even though it is further away from the heart of Darwin, it would be quieter and less chaotic for both parking and room noise than the Darwin City Hotel.
In the end, the Argus Hotel Darwin won out. It seemed so nice I decided to stay twice. Once on the way in, once on the way out.
Arriving at the Argus Darwin Hotel late one February night after picking up the hire car, a friendly face greeted me as I entered the establishment. Not only was the lady at the counter lovely, but the cool blast of air-conditioned after a long day of travelling and enduring the unrelenting humidity that persists into Darwin’s nights was a divine relief.
After paying my dues, I headed down into the car park beneath the building and whaled internally at how cramped it was. Adding to the anxiety was that I was navigating the tight underground car park with a big ass car I just picked up and started driving less than half an hour ago. Luckily, the car had reverse camera assist, which kept the palpations of accidentally shedding paint off at bay.
Stepping into 303 after unloading my gear and garb was a relieving experience. It was fantastic to open up to a crisp, clean, modern room at the end of a long, long day.
First thing I did once I put my bags down? Why I threw up in the bathtub, of course. Having to wear a face for over nine consecutive hours in the airport and on the plane, then investigating and recording the hire care for damages so the company can’t pin me with undue charges in the absurdly humid Darwin night had been getting to me. Thank you, lovely northern city for the puke-inducing welcome. Unforgettable! But good, solid puke receptacle that bathtub.
The next order of the day was to de-grime (after I cleared out my lunch, of course. I know what y’all are thinking!). As beautifully modern and inviting as that dual shower/ bathtub was, it had a worrying flaw. The bathtub tap stuck so far out under the luxury shower head, it was twice as long as needed to be. And that thing did not have round edges. It was a rectangular chunk of steel with right angles. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn, if I slip over, there are going to be severe casualties.” “Death by a stationary blunt force instrument”, the newspapers would read.
Damn, that bathroom door would be the bane of both my stays. That thing was heavy and hard to open! It had an automatic closing device on it, which, while it was giving my puny arms a workout, was annoying when I’m trying to back and forth between the bedroom and the bathroom. Adding to that frustration was the small bin used to lodge the door open to help the shower steam evaporate. I kept accidentally kicking it as I mustered up the strength to open the door, which is not great when I’m trying to be quiet as the night wore on.
Anyway, fresh out of the shower, the cold air that had been so welcoming upon entry was now borderline crystallizing the water droplets still left on my hair follicles. Luckily, the A/C was easy to adjust, and there was a spare fluffy doona to throw on top of the bed as I crawled under the blindingly white bed linen and laid my weary head to rest.
Free Continential Breakfast
The next day, I popped back to the hotel after my early morning roamings and grabbed some grub. Even at such an affordable price, the Argus Hotel Darwin offers free continental breakfast for all comers. Score. It’s not the fanciest breakfast, but even with my dietary requirements, they had something for me to chow down so I could go on about my day without passing out from starvation. And that’s good enough for me.
The dining area also serves as a fully functioning restaurant, but I didn’t get to try it out as I’m usually out from before dawn ’til long after dusk, but I couldn’t resist the included free food!
303 Balcony & View
Popping back up to my rented out digs to pick up a few things before heading off again, I noticed there was a balcony. It was microscopic. The chair that was out there didn’t even sit on the floor properly, but at the very affordable price of the room, I wasn’t even expecting a balcony. Bonus!
Even though the balcony was only good for a squishy outdoor experience for one, I didn’t spend a lot of time there, so it didn’t matter because it’s too damn hot outside, and I needed the sweet relief of that ice-cold airconditioner.
I wasn’t expecting a decent view either, and seeing as how I was out before dawn, this was my first time seeing it. It was pretty great. There was no looking out directly at another building into the neighbouring highrise. Instead, there were sweeping views out into the distance and across the Darwin Skyline. Double bonus!
Staying here would turn out to be the best views of the low-rise city, and I was thankful there were beautiful elevated views to enjoy.
On the last morning of the initial stay, I decided to take a dip in the pool. It’s only a small thang, but as everyone was preoccupied chowing down on the free brekkie that I skipped over today, it was a good size for one, but damn, I can imagine that it would get crowded.
Even though the outside is typical of the Northern Territory: hot, humid and sweat-inducing because this city seems to know no other way, the pool was a beautiful, cool temperature. Not so frigid you wouldn’t want to get in, but a welcoming, soothing temperate that is perfect for a swim.
The laundry room was a nifty little room in the car park that had modern machines that did a bang-up job. It was hot because of its location underground, but it was clean and efficient. The driers medium heat was not medium heat though, and holy-blonde cheerleader badman, I could barely touch my clothes when they were ready to be removed. Luckily, they hadn’t shrunk and were nice and dry within a reasonable time. (Unlike the one at the Mercure Crocodile Kakadu Hotel. Uber glares.)
Hello Again Argus
On the homebound journey, I checked back into the Argus Darwin Hotel. The same friendly face welcomed me back. “Oh, God, it’s you again,” she probably thought. Just kidding!
Lugging my haul up the room after a super long, exhausting day, the receptionist met me at my level and returned my $50 I left on the counter! Super grateful!!! I’m not sure how long she was waiting for me as I had to collect a bunch of stuff from the car, but I very much appreciated her meeting me there to give it back to it because I never even knew I had dropped it.
This room was on the same level as the first but on the other side of the hotel. The bathroom here was much more spacious and it didn’t have a bath which meant no disastrously placed tapped that would make an amusing story to tell the hospital staff should I have to explain how I got knocked out.
Popping out onto the balcony on the last day with some complimentary tea and trying to chow down my snacks that I still had to reduce the weight of my baggage for the plane, the view on this side of the hotel provided even more wonderful elevated views of the city.
Soon after munching my way through my luggage, it was time to say goodbye to this lovely hotel with even lovelier staff that had hosted me over 4 nights. Ah, farewell Argus, it’s been a delight. I wish you all the best for the future. Adios.
The rooms felt fresh, modern, luxurious, on-trend and were virtually spotless. Everything was remarkably clean and well kept, with the sheets and towels folded nicely.
There was also plenty of space to plop my suitcase on the ground and manoeuvre around the rooms freely. Large kitchen bench spaces and lots of draws and cupboards were also appreciated, however, the closets were a little on the small side.
The bathrooms were a good size with modern fixtures with a modern minimalistic style, but the bath tap on the dual bath/shower in 303 is a disaster waiting to happen. I have nightmares thinking about it. And the heavy door with the bin, argh, I shudder thinking about the neighbours I may have woken up accidentally kicking that thing so many times.
The balcony is a welcome touch but it is very, very small. It’s like coffin-sized. It’s very confining. The chair from one of the rooms didn’t even fit in the tiny space. It’s something you’d maybe expect to have on a cruise. It might even be smaller than that.
The scenery, however, is pretty great! Darwin isn’t a city with towering highrises. The skyline is fairly insignificant and there aren’t a whole heap of places to get good views of the small city, so having mostly uninterrupted views from my rooms was a great way to see the delightfully modern, updated capital.
Public Areas, Pool & Restaurant
Facilities at the Argus Hotel Darwin included a restaurant, pool and gym. When I’m on vacation, I don’t hit up the gym as that would be blasphemous to my soul. But I did hit up the pool.
There’s not a whole heap of places in Darwin to cool off on those persistently hot sticky summer days because of the man-eaters that lurk in the sea, which made the stylist, modern, minimalistic pool a lovely place to be outside but not saturated in sweat.
However, it is pretty small, and if more than a few people felt like hopping in, it would get uncomfortably crowded fast. But the little water feature it had was a nice touch and made the pool feel less lonely and stagnant sitting out there all by itself.
As for the dining area, I only visited there when they were serving the included continental breakfast and didn’t try the Green Chillies in-house restaurant. Just the name of it sounds like it would burn six layers off my sensitive tongue. But as I was out before they opened and back long after they closed, I wasn’t able to see if they had anything for me.
The dining area, like everywhere else, was pretty spotless although, the tables seemed a bit clunky compared to the rest of the modern and sleek hotel. The food was a lot of the basics: Bread for toast/ sandwiches, spreads, cereal, tea and coffee, but it was satisfying enough and saved me some money from getting my fill elsewhere.
The staff at the Argus were upstanding. They were warm, welcoming, accomodating and friendly. Some of the people I met in Darwin who were on the clock were a little off-putting, and some were great, but the folks working here were the loveliest people I met in Darwin. They always said hello and were more than willing to help, and they gave me my $50 back which I hadn’t realized I dropped, which proves how awesome they are.
Overall, my stay at the Argus Hotel Darwin was very much a largely positive experience. It has a lot of things going for it: clean, large, well-tended rooms, with modern styling and great views, honest and friendly staff and a lovely pool for that ridiculous Northern Territory heat.
You have to pay for the secure underground parking though, but most places in the city have that, but it’s cheaper than the other places, and hey, you get free food here, so that, in a way, makes up for it.
Even its location is pretty great. It’s not right in the heart of the city of Darwin, but it’s close enough to it that you can casually stroll to it. Being slightly further away from the hustle and bustle also means it’s quieter too, which is always a bonus when you’re trying to snooze.
A few minor things like the bathroom door being heavy to open, constantly accidentally kicking the bin and the small balcony, and paying for parking didn’t diminish the overall positive experience I had at the Argus. It was such a great place at an affordable price.
It was such a lovely way to commence and conclude my Northern Territory adventure. Would I stay again if I’m able to go back to Darwin? I would. Absolutely.
- Based on my experience in February 2021
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