Once home to breweries and rat-catchers, the rapidly gentrifying suburb of Chippendale in inner Sydney is now a playground of art galleries, restaurants and street food. Amelia Hungerford strolls the streets on a weekend getaway close to home.
Chippendale isn’t emerging; it’s here. Just walk up Balfour Street to see the line snaking out of Brickfields, the bakery-cafe-hipster hotspot on the corner of Cleveland Street, and it’s clear the inner-city suburb is very much on the map. Locals and visitors clamour for favourite fresh-baked breads, special cakes (a chocolate and chilli creation is a particular highlight) and espresso served with sparkling water.
Two buildings, one hotel
From its position of the corner of Kensington Street and Broadway, The Old Clare Hotel is something of a microcosm for Chippendale. A glass atrium, engineered by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects, links the former Clare Hotel pub with the old Carlton & United Breweries Administration Building, both heritage-listed edifices. This presented an unparalleled opportunity for Unlisted Collection – and founder and owner, Loh Lik Peng – to create a boutique hotel indelibly linked to both the grit of what was once Sydney’s least desirable suburb and the glamour of a newly flourishing district.
Quirk is part of The Old Clare Hotel’s DNA, with 62 rooms and suites named for local landmarks and characters from the area’s less salubrious days, such as the Mary O’ Suite (in honour of “Pig Mary” O’Shea, who roamed the muddy creek beds in search of slaughterhouse offcuts and offal to share with her pigs). The spaces haven’t been over-restored; cracks in walls and chipped window sills are celebrated as part of the buildings’ stories rather than filled in and corrected.