wedged between the central railway station and the university of sydney, chippendale isn't exactly one of the scenic seaside neighbourhoods that sydney tends to be known for the world over. once a seedy and crime-ridden area, it has transformed in recent years into a buzzing arts hub with a string of happening galleries and creative companies to prove it. indeed, gentrification is in full swing, and central park, a mixed-use urban redevelopment project that encompasses a large chunk of it and replete with modern high-rises, has put it all in a turbo spin. although rigorous in some ways, the master plan also carefully preserves local architecture.
enter the old clare hotel, the newest property of hospitality entrepreneur loh lik peng and his first venture down under. peng enlisted the help of local architecture practice tonkin zulaikha greer to turn two heritage-listed buildings, a former pub and office, into boutique lodgings with a distinct contemporary feel. the venue features just 62 differently sized and decorated guestrooms that, just like the public spaces, have come about with the greatest respect of the buildings' original architectural elements. the original, slight-industrial setting of most pads has been paired with custom-made designs that ooze a quirky sense of style.
and obviously, with no concession to modern comfort and all the amenities that come with it. this meticulously crafted edginess effortlessly extends to the old clare hotel's public spaces and facilities, where even derelict elements have been adventurously incorporated in the current setting, adding up to the highly unusual vibe of the property. the old clare hotel isn't just a place where to lay your head to rest, no sir! on the premises, guests and visitors are able to wine and dine at a number of stylish spots. the clare bar, serves as the hotel lobby bar, and is a laid-back place where to relax and mingle over a drink or two.
feeling peckish? there are two dining spots on the premises that got expertly covered. located in an imposing 1930s warehouse-style interior replete with lofty ceilings and arched windows opening onto kensington street, chef clayton wells' automata restaurant serves a five-course menu, incorporating seasonal ingredients in a contemporary way. another culinary gem is silvereye, the domain of chef sam miller who pairs a northern european approach to food with local ingredients. mind you, a third diner is to be launched shortly. complementing the list of facilities at the old clare hotel are a rooftop swimming pool and a full-fledged gym, while a spa will open early next year. location: 1 kensington street [chippendale].