The Somerville brothers are taking big east coast steps with their Summer House venues, expanding out of Melbourne and now announcing two new acquisitions, in Cairns and Brisbane.
A short walk from the Brisbane CBD is the Flamin’ Galah – the rebranded Beetle Bar adjoining a 30-room, 150-bed backpacker hostel.
The two lots are the first freehold acquisitions for Summer House, formed six years ago by Adrian and Nathan Somerville, which now counts a chain of hostel operations.
With the exception of the Sydney business, the hostels are each associated with a licensed venue.
This model evolved with the group’s taking on the famous Hotel Barkly in St Kilda in 2017, securing the pub lease in addition to their operation of 24 upmarket backpacker dormitories upstairs.
The brothers took a big step in February this year, acquiring the well-established former Nomads 80-room, 300-bed hostel near the airport, with a lagoon pool and its popular in-house Serpent Bar.
After a large renovation both businesses are now trading again, reopening during settlement on the Brisbane title.
“We wanted to be a landlord so we’re not at the mercy of demolition clauses and gentrification and the like, and no risk of being turfed out,” explains Adrian.
“We don’t have many plans yet, we’ll keep operating it, and later might have a look at some architects and see what’s possible.”
Adjacent on Upper Roma St, near Suncorp Stadium, the Flamin’ Galah has a long bar and mezzanine level, and reputation for live music. The hostel has a rooftop looking out on the Brisbane River and CBD that is the only one in the local backpacker precinct licensed for the public.
Now boasting operations from the south to the far north, Adrian says they are reaching their goal to tap their target market year-round.
“When Melbourne and Sydney hostels are empty, the Brisbane and Cairns properties carry them a bit,” he says.
“That’s our intention. The backpackers come here to work in Sydney or Melbourne, raise a bit of money and spend it on an east coast trip.”