“It’s like an prison recreation yard in 1960s East Germany” was how the beer-garden at The Beresford Hotel was often described.
Even though, they’d spent a LOT of money on the renovation of the much loved Surry Hills pub, and for the most part had gotten it right, they really messed up the beer garden early in the piece. It was terribly modern and chic, I’m sure, but the painted grey concrete and the strange chairs where you sometimes found yourself sitting with your back to your friends wasn’t a particularly welcoming environment.
In the months since, they’ve made the space a little more friendly by changing the furniture and by covering The Berlin Wall with plants. There’s other little touches, like pot plants which have also made the place a far nicer environment for a Friday afternoon drink with a mate.
Although she lives in the Eastern Suburbs, she has actually booked into a Paddington motel for the weekend. The reason? “I haven’t slept for three or four nights” she told me of life without an air-conditioner in her top-floor apartment in Bondi. “I slept on the hallway floor the other night”, she added, “and thought about just sleeping on the bathroom floor, it’s so hot”.
This was her explanation why she (and a few other people she knows) have booked a hotel room for a few nights this weekend to escape the late 30 temperatures predicted. “Before I book, can you just confirm you have air conditioning and it works”, she told me she said to the hotel receptionist.
Anyway, after a few drinks, we moved on for dinner at another refurbished pub, “The Local” or “The Tap House” depending on what you want to call it. My friend had worked there many years ago, and I’d enjoyed a few meals there previously, so concluded fairly early in the night it was the perfect place for dinner. I had the pork belly which was excellent. My friend had the mussels. They were also good.
The renovation process is also underway at “The Local”. They’ve also done a nice job to date on their renovation which combines large spaces with small, intimate rooms. “It’s very Melbourne”, we both concluded.
They also recently opened their rooftop bar, which has transformed a largely empty unfriendly barren space into something quite friendly and nice (in contrast to The Beresford which had done the complete opposite).
It’s the kind of bar where you can easily find yourself chatting to the people next to you, which we did. “Do you know where we can get any coke?”, one of the women asked us very early in the conversation. I wanted to say, “I think there’s a convenience store at the servo down the road”, but then quickly realised that was a pretty lame joke. They were a group of friends who had met in Byron Bay and who were in Sydney for a “big party weekend”.
“The last time we were here, we were homeless for a night”, one of the women told us. “The reception rang us several times asking us to keep the noise down, so we put the ironing board against the door until the police came and evicted us”, she added. She was a great story-teller, eh? With just that one sentence I had a strong image in my mind and a great sense of sympathy for the staff of the hotel where they were staying. My friend and I looked at each other with a smile concluding tomorrow was going to get very messy for this group.
“We’re going to The Taxi Club, you wanna come with us”? they asked us at one point. Twenty years ago we might have said yes… but now in our 40s… we’re both much more sensible, which is why, long before midnight, my friend went back to the air-conditioned comfort of her hotel, and I’m back at home.