As multi-national hotel chains continue to plough investment into new high-star rooms, more pubs are taking advantage of the comparatively neglected mid-tier market.
One such pub is Rozelle’s Merton Hotel, on a busy corner of Victoria Road, on the edge of the very gentrified Balmain.
Choosing to focus on live music and opting to operate no poker machines or gaming of any kind, Gill Haine and Aiden Mullen have optimised every other revenue stream at their disposal.
Saying goodbye to the long-stay old-timers upstairs, Mullen’s painting and decorating business smartened up the five accommodation rooms and two bathrooms upstairs to offer an alternative to the high-end room rates of the city – just three kilometres away.
“Most of our guests are from within Australia, coming to Sydney for events, not from overseas,” Gill Haine told PubTIC. “But we promote on Airbnb and Stays and hope to change that.
“We’ve done letterbox drops in the area, which generated quite a lot of business in relatives and in-laws of locals, needing somewhere to stay.”
Gill and Aiden have operated the family-friendly pub for nearly five years, and offer accommodation as bed & breakfast for up to 12 guests, and the option to book the whole floor.
The hotel is dedicated to its live music offering, often packing around 70 people into the front bar and the open fire-warmed lounge.
The homely appeal continues with the very talented Thai-Malaysian Apple running the kitchen; Haine reports regular crave-driven enquiries as to “Will you be serving the goat curry tonight?”
Economists predict that Australia’s future after the mining boom will likely be the increased focus on service-based industry, such as hospitality. Around the country investment is pouring into the accommodation sector, with both international stalwarts and savvy operators jumping on the wagon.