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Old Clare Hotel, Not So Old… Sydney

November 5, 2015

Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale, Sydney, Extern/Tonkin Zahailka Greer, 2015

A denizen of Chippendale’s Kensington Street since 1939, the heritage-listed Old Clare Hotel has been redeveloped by Singapore-based hotelier Loh Lik Peng, and given new life by Sydney-based architects Tonkin Zahailka Greer as a boutique hotel and home to three restaurants with serious gastronomic cred - Automata, Silvereye and the Kensington Street Social.

By Rachel Ang


Cool and historied, Chippendale has become the play ground of choice for art galleries, production houses, graphic and fashion design studios, as well as Sydney’s newest restaurants, cafés and bars.


The corner site of 1 Kensington Street has been a hotel since its earliest inception. In 1848, the site housed a two-storey eight room public house, referred to by the rather misnomic title, as The California Inn. In 1885 it was demolished and expanded with a new Victorian building becoming Ryan’s Hotel. During this building’s life, it had a storied career as a hay and corn dealer, a produce store, a furniture dealer, a boot maker, and a restaurant. In 1939 the shop was demolished, and the property was purchased by a Margaret Mahoney. She engaged the architect Sidney Warden, requesting a new hotel in the current Inter-war Functionalist style. Mahoney named it after her birthplace in County Clare, Ireland.


The newest incarnation in the hotel’s adventures is its renovation and re-opening this year. The Old Clare Hotel pub and adjacent Carlton and United Breweries Administration Building have been restored to their full Inter-war glory and renovated as a 62 room boutique hotel. The architects have retained many of the unique features which characterise the original buildings – exposed brown brick, the gorgeous beige tiles retained from the lobby bar – but the spaces are updated with a modern, warm touch.


Storm shell clam, rosemary dashi, powdered dulce and cream


Sunflower & Geranium Crisp Bread snack & 'Hoptical Illusion' cocktail Aperol spritz & beer

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As Tim Greer, Design Director at Tonkin Zahailka Greer Architects describes the mix: “It’s unpredictable, with a bit of magic and a twist of fantasy. When you walk around the hotel, you will get a sense that the building is dressing and undressing itself all at once. The building plays games with what a hotel should be, some parts are exquisite and other parts are raw. In short a building of mixed emotions. The Old Clare Hotel will appeal to anybody with a sense of adventure, who likes comfort and fabulous food.”

The Old Clare Hotel

The Clare Hotel

1 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

+61 2 8277 8277

On instagram: @theoldclare

On facebook: theoldclare

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