Newcastle’s first five-star hotel is almost ready to open its doors.
The redevelopment, 14 months in the making, is the much anticipated transformation of the city’s iconic ‘Roundhouse’ building, which started life in the 1970s as the City Administration Centre.
Located opposite Civic Park, in the city’s theatre district, Crystalbrook Kingsley is expected to become a drawcard for locals and visitors alike, bringing a new elegance to the former steel city.
On Tuesday the Newcastle Weekly were invited to tour the long-awaited premises.
Here’s what our journalist Rebecca Riddle thought about the experience.
I know I’m still considered a newcomer to the city, but I think there’s no denying the former roundhouse is an architectural site to behold.
Standing proudly above the arts and learning quarter of the CBD, its sheer scale and circular contours are more than impressive.
It’s now-nine-storey structure dressed in striking geometric form, softened with curves and a blend of textures, is a feast for the eyes of any Newcastle visitor.
Then, from the moment you enter the doors of the Crystalbrook Kingsley you are taken aback by its grandeur.
Undyed wool carpets in a striking yellow hue, swirling in an obviously Indigenous design, lead the eye to strategically placed mirrors that give the impression the building is endless.
With lifts at the building’s core, circular passageways lead visitors either right to the Kingsley’s two meeting rooms or left to the first of its three food and beverage venues.
Ms Mary is the name the group has chosen for its ground floor casual dining venue in honour of one of the city’s female pioneers.
As Novocastrian legend goes Mary Eckford (nee Horrell) from Devonshire was just 14 years old when she was convicted of stealing a muslin apron and handkerchief in 1800 and sentenced to seven years transportation.
On her year-long trip to Newcastle she met William Eckford, a seaman 27 years her senior, who later became Newcastle’s first harbour pilot.
Mary, as the saying goes, was the great woman behind the great man.
Therefore her namesake bar deserves the striking canary mosaic that dominates the ground floor outlet.
Sourced from Turkish humanitarian group Orient From Human Relief, the yellow large-scale design is a perfect backdrop for the granite bar tops that is naturally lit by the floor to ceiling windows that overlook Newcastle’s theatre precinct.
The yellow canary is also a subtle hint at the city’s coal mining past – until the 1980s, coal miners used canaries as an early warning system for underground gases like carbon monoxide and methane.
After a short trip in the building’s well-lit elevator, we are led to one of the building’s eight deluxe accommodation levels.
Soft lighting and plush carpet once again draw on the canary yellow theme.
The rooms at Crystalbrook Kingsley are classified as either park views or harbour views.
All are furnished simply with stylish granite tops, plush carpet, curved furniture pieces, blockout drapes, and wooden light features.
In keeping with its sustainable focus, all rooms within the hotel have no paper or plastics, feature timber, recyclable keys and sensor-activated air-conditioning.
Even staff titles have been revamped, with cleaners now being referred to as ‘style curators’ within the classy establishment.
The final pièce de résistance is the top floor of the property.
From the moment the lift arrives at the ninth floor, I challenge any visitor to not experience a sharp in-breath as the doors open to sweeping views over the city that stretch as far as Merewether Beach.
Named after the building’s architect Frederick Romburg, I dare say the Romburg Bar is set to be the cocktail venue of choice for visitors and locals alike.
Finally, a short stroll ahead is the rooftop restaurant.
Aptly named The Roundhouse the olive-themed 130-seat dining area is the final piece in the circular puzzle.
Here diners can enjoy views atop Newcastle’s Civic Theatre, stretching out across the harbour and as far as Stockton, with Nobbys Headland and the CBD in the forefront.
This is the city’s only ninth-storey rooftop restaurant and rooftop bar and I am certain it will make an impressive addition to Newcastle.
The Crystalbrook Kingsley is expected to open its doors to the public Wednesday, 9 June.
Locals spanning from Anna Bay to Budgewoi and Singleton are invited to opt in to the Crystalbrook Local program, gaining access to 15% off dining, drinks and rooms.