The cornerstone of the future Kensington Street Precinct, at the heart of the funky Chippendale neighborhood, the Old Clare is the storied pub she used to be and so much more. Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects built a glass-and-steel walkway between the former Clare Hotel and the neighboring Carlton United Brewery building, both dating to the early 20th century, to create a 62-room boutique hotel that simultaneously feels historic and edgy. Original wood panels and brick walls blend seamlessly into spotted gum floors and nude-colored walls, exemplifying the creative reuse that pervades the Chippendale suburb, an inner-city district of galleries and cafés situated at the crossroads of Glebe, Redfern, Surry Hills, Chinatown, and the Central Business District. The design echoes other landmark Sydney restorations by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer such as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens and Carriageworks, an arts complex located just down the road. The Old Clare also brings three more standout restaurants to Chippendale, including the first Australian concept by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. Whether guests soak in the egg-shaped tub in their loft room, take a sunrise yoga class on the rooftop pool deck, or sip a “Ginny Hendricks,” a watermelon-dill concoction with bitters and Hendrick’s gin, at the midcentury-modern bar, they’ll have a story to tell. The Old Clare is a tale that keeps getting better.
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Chippendale lies at the intersection of edgy Redfern, artsy Surry Hills, and collegiate Glebe, a quick walk from Central Station and all the shops and tourist attractions of the Central Business District. The neighborhood’s artisan shops; nearby restaurants such as Nomad; and art galleries from White Rabbit a couple blocks away to CarriageWorks—designed by the same architects as the hotel—bring together the area’s disparate cultures and result in a vibrant burst of energy. Other attractions such as the Powerhouse Museum and the under-development Goods Line (inspired by New York’s High Line) all point to Chippendale’s inevitable ascension.
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Rooms: 58 rooms, 4 suites. From $350. Check-in: 2 p.m., check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: Clayton Wells (of Momofuku and Quay) heads the 60-seat Automata, a prix-fixe seafood restaurant with an Asian bent. Ex-Noma chef Sam Miller works wonders with juniper berries and pine needles at Silvereye, a space outfitted in gray brick and beige sandstone, named after the memorable migratory bird that flits around the South Pacific. Michelin-starred British chef Jason Atherton will soon oversee the 118-seat Kensington Street Social as well as the room-service menu, available day and night. Spa and gym details: The city-view rooftop was designed for swimming and yoga classes as much as drinking and relaxing. There’s also a private gym and day spa. Several rooms feature giant soaking tubs, which invite guests to pour their Triumph & Disaster body wash into a bubble bath and rethink their weekend. What will it be, triumphant or disastrous? We’re guessing the former.
Who's it best for: Adventurous culture seekers interested in an authentic Sydney stay on the fringes of the city. The Old Clare is also a convenient crash pad for visitors to either the University of Sydney or the University of Technology Sydney, since both campuses are a short walk away. Our favorite rooms: The Abercrombie, the Connell, and the Clare rooms each have a distinct personality as well as vintage designer furniture and lamps—but Clare rooms offer the best skylit seating nook. You can’t beat the four suites, however, especially the C.U.B., housed in the old Carlton Brewery building’s boardroom. The Chippendale Lofts are a nice middle ground; they’re stylish and spacious and offer the best views of the neighborhood. Neighborhood events: Held the first and third Sundays of the month on the grassy core of the Central Park compound—famous for a loft building whose exterior sprouts shrubs and vines—the Brewery Yard Market is a local hangout, complete with live music and vendors hawking everything from bohemian crafts to Sydney-designed clothing. If the dates don’t work out, the Eveleigh Market is a close second.