To finish our trip in Australia, I had been looking forward to our stay at The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney. Located near the central train station (less than 5 minutes walking distance) and just at the top of stylish Kensington Street, not to mention the nearby (and totally useful) Central Park mall — this was the perfect spot to end our stay. With a unique historic background, artwork of the former building is prominently displayed through the current hotel. And if that wasn’t enough history…
“The Old Clare Hotel rests on a parcel of land that is rich in history, its earliest recorded inhabitants being the Eora people. In 1810, Major George Druitt was granted 8 acres of land wherein Old Clare now stands – at that time, the area was the outskirts of Sydney. Major Druitt sold a large portion of this to John Tooth in 1834, who established the Kent Brewery. John’s namesake ‘Tooth’s Beer’ produced dozens of iconic pub posters that still adorn the art deco pubs in Sydney. Other beers produced by ‘Tooth & Co.’ include KB Lager, Kent Old Brown, and the currently resurgent Resch’s (the Australian equivalent to Pabst). Many who grew up in Sydney still have fond childhood memories of alighting a train at Central Station to the smells of beer brewing at nearby Kent Brewery.
The corner building has been used as a hotel ever since it’s earliest development. By 1848, a two-story, eight room public house was established; the first mention of this hotel is under the moniker The California Inn. By 1885 the original hotel structure had been demolished and property expanded with a new Victorian building known as Ryan’s Hotel.
Subsequent incarnations of the corner site include an (undisclosed) shop (nothing mischievous), a hay and corn dealer, a produce store (with several owner occupiers), a furniture dealer, a boot maker, and a restaurant.
In 1939, the shop building was demolished during the widening of Parramatta Road to create Broadway Street. Architect Sidney Warden was a hot property after designing the nearby Broadway Hotel to much acclaim, so when Margaret Moloney bought the site she hired him to design a new hotel in the “Inter-war Functionalist style”. The pub was similarly praised upon its opening, and Margaret named her new establishment after her birthplace in County Clare, Ireland. The Clare Hotel was born.”
- Unique design and layout. There aren’t many cosmopolitan hotels that can offer a dual level suite (the Chippendale Loft is the room category, if you’re interested). There’s something entirely cozy about heading upstairs to tuck yourself in away from the world. The downstairs ‘sitting room’ was a more functional space, complete with a desk, mini fridge, and television.
- The most comfortable beds in the world. Okay, it’s actually a tie between the W Bangkok and the Old Clare, but seriously, this was as close to sleeping on a cloud as I’ve ever experienced. When you think ‘staycation’ or spending a morning in bed, this is the bed you think of. Fortunately for us, I was getting over a cold, it was a bit rainy, and we were simply worn out from all our travel. Thus, we spent plenty of time cuddled under the super soft duvet.
- Fantastic location. Already mentioned above, but the area was convenient for so many things. Certainly, the Langham (where we started our trip) was better located regarding tourist attractions, but I enjoyed exploring the neighborhood close to the Old Clare (and am glad we didn’t miss out on all that Kensington Street had to offer).
- Excellent bar. I mean, in a city with literally heaps of places to grab a drink, there was something very vibe-y about the Clare (they didn’t dig deep for that name, did they)? With bar bites from the Kensington Street Social (located on the same level), it’s an easy spot to meet friends, or enjoy a date. I’d happily go back even if I wasn’t a guest of the hotel.
- That extra touch. Free notebook with handwritten message waiting for us at check in? Yes, please! Free glasses of Tattinger for our upcoming anniversary? Also lovely.
- Honestly, I’m hard pressed to find many faults here! While no hotel is entirely perfect, my biggest concern is with the design of the two-floor space (and yes, I’m well aware this is also listed in the ‘pro’ category). I loved the idea of an ‘upstairs / downstairs’ suite, but kept having to fetch things from downstairs. (Or, simply forget something and then have to run back down… Not that big a deal, but after nearly 20K steps, I didn’t want to do any additional walking). And while there was room for a medium size suitcase upstairs, we had to leave the big suitcase downstairs (we weren’t going to lug it up and there wasn’t space for it).
- Clumsy McGee (me) managed to slice the hell out of my calf on a rough edge upstairs. Sharp edges and bare skin never go together. We mentioned this issue to the front desk, and I hope it was just a random klutzy thing I did (that no one else would).
- No take home toiletries. I loved the high-end Triumph & Disaster products in the room, but (in a nod to environmental concerns — yes, I know, all good), and would’ve loved to have them as a reminder of my trip. At home.
- Carpet. As with the Langham (and every other hotel we visited), I found myself wondering why the design of Australian hotel rooms seems to skew so heavily towards carpet (when a tile/rug combo is classier and easier to keep clean).
Would I stay here again? I would. It’s a unique spot and a heavenly bed. Best of all, it’s not a place that will break the bank. I’d love to stop by in warmer weather and check out the rooftop pool/bar.
Where’s your favorite place to stay in Sydney?