By Nichole Osinski - April 10, 2017
When the Old Clare Hotel reopened its doors in September 2015 guests were welcomed with an impressive redesign that may have had a few people taking a second second look. It’s a change that didn’t just lead to a general update but one that took a clean slate and brought it into the modern world. Today it might be best described as the new kid in town who’s setting the trends right alongside all those other places that have recently been popping up.
Even the area where the hotel is located—Chippendale—was a surprise for some. The small, inner-city suburb is home to many of the up-and-coming restaurants, shops and cafes within the city. It’s safe to say putting the hotel in this spot was somewhat of a risky move but one that looks to be the right one.
Chippendale Revival Years ago, before places like the Brickfields bakery settled in the area, Chippendale was anything but a hotspot—it sat beyond the main part of the city and had next to nothing to offer tourists. It was known for Kent Brewery and little else. Fast forward to present-day and you’ll see a completely different picture of Chippendale. The brewery walls have been torn down and the Central Park developer has now brought in a new group of stores to the area. The sweep of changes has also welcomed one of the newest additions to the neighborhood: the Old Clare Hotel. The hotel sits on Kensington Street making it just a jaunt away from the Central Park Mall, Victoria Park and enough restaurants to keep anyone full their entire stay. The hotel has been creatively reworked to fill the Clare Hotel pub and the Carlton & United Breweries Administration Building, both of which are heritage-listed buildings.
The area that surrounds the hotel and sits between Cleveland Street and Broadway is a mix of everything Sydney has become know for—eclectic shops like the Japanese Daiso, which has can’t-miss bargains, rub shoulders with contemporary venues like the White Rabbit Art Collection. Even the look of the area is hard to not to find endearing with its quaint streets that take you past old brick buildings and out onto unique shops that offer the perfect solution for a gift or just a souvenir for yourself. Yes, the area has become gentrified and is reinventing itself as an artsy and, it’s safe to say, hipster locale that has become the vanguard for new residents like the Old Clare Hotel to flourish in their own right.
What’s Inside The Old Clare Hotel may be built upon a 1915 brewery and a 1930s pub but the designers clearly made sure to appeal to the 21st-century traveler. It still retains an air of eclectic beauty and charm—exposed brick lines the workout room, Triumph & Disaster bathroom amenities are in the rooms and there’s even a private library in one of the suites. The Old Clare, the first Australian hotel from the Unlisted Collection, is at the foundation a 62-room boutique hotel with seven different suite styles. Beyond this, guests will discover a space meant not just to accommodate but offer a unique stay that warrants a second (or third) return. For the foodies, the hotel has three restaurants in addition to The Clare bar, which doesn’t limit its cocktails solely to hotel guests making for a friendly atmosphere.
If you’re going to get food though, Automata is the IT restaurant when it comes to satisfying palates. It’s set inside a 1930s warehouse-style building complete with arched windows and high ceilings. The other two restaurants, auto.lab and Kensington Street Social, are the go-to’s for quick and casual eats from Michelin-starred chef, Jason Atherton and others. Of course we all know there’s more than food that makes a hotel stay memorable. We also want opportunities to indulge and, for some of us, stay connected to our routine. The first is easily done at the rooftop pool that gives glimpses into the city year-round. As for routine, the gym makes it easy to stay on top of those workouts with Technogym machines and the option for a personal trainer. Or, if you want the cardio without being closed in, you can grab a bike from reception and see this side of Sydney on your own time.
Revitalized Rooms While we can look at what food a hotel serves, how big the pool is and if there’s valet parking, it really comes down to the rooms. It’s where you’re sleeping, possibly working, and in a sense, living, whether it’s for a day or several months. At the Old Clare Hotel, guests have seven different room options with cheeky descriptions on the website like, “split personality” and “the fancy one.” It’s unfair to say there’s a “basic room” at the Old Clare because all the rooms are like that loft your cousin’s writer friend owns in Greenwich Village—they’re all clean lines, distinct furnishings and something you won’t find anywhere else. Take the nine Clare Rooms that are each about 473 square feet and come with more than just free Wi-Fi. What makes these rooms and suites special is that you’ll find slight variations in each that for a lot of people makes staying here feel more personalized. For one, there’s the varying layouts that are a guarantee with a building like this—curved glass windows frame some rooms while others still incorporate the marble floors in what was once the C.U.B. administration building lobby.
If you’re looking for a room that’s a bit more exclusive then the Showroom Suites are a good place to start. For one, there are only two of them and the space you’ll be staying has a bar that was from the original brewery building. Or you could take it up another notch and stay in the hotel’s second largest room, the Mary O’ Suite, named after Mary O’ Shea who lived in Chippendale in the 1850s. Her backstory, and nickname, is an interesting one, so ask one of the locals about her, you’ll enjoy the tale. But unlike Mary, the suite won’t leave you with questions, with its amenities that add a nice compliment for anyone planning on entertaining during their stay. It’s true, the hotel is a perfect example of how far Chippendale has come and as you look out onto Kensington Street from your super king-sized bed you’ll agree, it’s a change for the better.