HO­TEL RE­VIEWS

LARA PI­CONE checks out the Old Clare Ho­tel, a curious mix of grit and glam­our.

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

Old Clare, Sydney, NSW The Lar­will Stu­dio, Mel­bourne, Vic

Once the room door clicks open, I be­gin my ha­bit­ual ‘en­try and eval­u­a­tion pro­ce­dure’. First, a cur­sory glance of the room (more de­tail given to the bath­room), fol­lowed by fling­ing my bag on the near­est chair, then most im­por­tantly, swing­ing open the mini bar.

Much like gain­ing in­sights from a sneaky peek in a bath­room cab­i­net, the mini bar re­veals a lot about a ho­tel. Just a glance and you get a sense of what you might ex­pect from your stay. Fol­low­ing stan­dard en­try pro­ce­dure at The Old Clare Ho­tel on this evening, my fridge in­spec­tion draws a slight gasp. I call my part­ner over to of­fer an opin­ion, ‘What’s that do­ing in there?’, I ask, brow fur­rowed. Next to a ne­groni cock­tail con­ve­niently pre­mixed for two (I’m much obliged!) sits four tin­nies of Mel­bourne Bit­ter. Now, I’ll guz­zle a tin­nie as hap­pily as the next per­son, but I’m ac­cus­tomed to be­ing greeted with lo­cal craft beer in bou­tique ho­tel rooms th­ese days. The jolly, red tin­nies jarred expectations. Af­ter all, this is Chip­pen­dale, Sydney’s new­est crown prince of hip­s­ter­dom.

Then the penny dropped. Yes, it’s Chip­pen­dale, and this is the for­mer Carl­ton United Brew­eries Ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. The Mel­bourne Bit­ter cans and the Reschs on tap down­stairs in The Old Clare bar are giv­ing a wry smile in ac­knowl­edg­ment to the build­ing’s her­itage-listed past.

Joined by a par­al­lel history and now by a sleek glass and steel atrium, the CUB build­ing and The Old Clare pub (also her­itage-listed) cre­ate one of Sydney’s new­est bou­tique ho­tels. Re­claimed and re-imag­ined by de­sign group Un­listed Col­lec­tion, the for­mer brew­ery and ho­tel have trans­formed into 62 rooms, a bar, and two ex­cep­tional restau­rants, Sil­ver­eye and Au­tomata, with an­other, Kens­ing­ton Street So­cial helmed by Miche­lin-starred chef Ja­son Ather­ton, on the way.

Open­ing its doors with the re­quired dose of swag­ger to get no­ticed in Sydney, The Old Clare ticks the boxes for cool city ac­com­mo­da­tion. There’s even a rooftop lap pool and bar (the bar wasn’t open on our visit), com­plete with sun um­brel­las and an ur­ban edge pro­vided by way of a bill­board and the adjacent apart­ment build­ing pre­sid­ing over pool­side ac­tiv­ity.

Be­neath the rooftop, rooms have an in­dus­trial feel with at­ten­tion given to ex­pos­ing as much of the beau­ti­ful orig­i­nal brick­work as pos­si­ble. There are cus­tom light fit­tings, a dreamy, su­per-king bed, and New Zealand toi­letries brand Tri­umph & Dis­as­ter to help you freshen up be­fore hit­ting the streets. The bath­room it­self is a savvy use of space, even if (in the ‘Connell’ room, at least) it’s lit­tle more than a glass box. The toi­let is thank­fully housed in a frosted glass box but the shower of­fers no such modesty, which could make things awk­ward if you were shar­ing the room with any­one but a sig­nif­i­cant other. It’s all quite sleek, even if marginally lack­ing in real at­ten­tion to de­tail.

Down­stairs, the lobby is plas­tered with band posters and is con­nected to The Old Clare Ho­tel bar by way of an open door. As the noise picks up in the bar, so, too, does the lobby-noise es­ca­late, caus­ing slight ir­ri­ta­tion to guests check­ing in af­ter dark.

In its re­cent history, the bar was a rowdy haunt for grungy stu­dents, now it’s the sort of place where nap­kins are placed un­der drinks served to white-col­lar city work­ers, such is the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of this once cityfringe sub­urb. The Old Clare Ho­tel is well­po­si­tioned to make the most of this new fron­tier of cool and ac­com­mo­da­tion of its type is sorely needed down this end of town. With its beer-brew­ing back­story, this new bou­tique ho­tel has the right amount of grit and glam­our to fit in. Still, for the wal­let-strain­ing cost of one night’s stay, it’s just as well the mini bar is stocked with tin­nies.

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LEFT: Con­tem­po­rary spa­ces have been ex­pertly put to­gether by Un­listed Col­lec­tion. ABOVE: The Old Clare Ho­tel bar.

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