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June 26, 2024

A right royal revamp

A landmark Henley Beach Road pub owned by the same family for 45 years has been given a makeover.

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  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

Hotel Royal, on Henley Beach Road, has a long and storied history.

Built in 1879, it was taken over by the Hurley Hotel Group in 1979. Hotel Royal was “the first pub Pete and Jen [Hurley] bought in Adelaide”.


Hotel Royal
180 Henley Beach Road, Torrensville 5031
Kitchen open everyday: 11:30am ’til 9pm.


“It’ll be 45 years in December,” hotel manager Scott Oakley says.

“So it’s been in the family and in the group for a long time. So obviously, it has a pretty special place in their heart and in the group, being their first one in Adelaide and the first bigger pub — they owned two before that were both regional pubs.”

Pete and Jen Hurley lived upstairs at Hotel Royal when they first moved to Adelaide.

The pub is heritage-listed, but Scott says it’s based on “the purpose of the building”.

According to the SA Heritage Places Database, Hotel Royal “displays historical, economic or social themes that are of importance to the local area” and plays “an important part in the lives of local residents”.

Lengthy renovations finished up in December last year, but Scott says the initial idea of revamping the space came with “a bit of historian pushback”.

“Because everyone’s impression is that the pub’s heritage listed, which it is, but not in a traditional heritage listing,” Scott says.

He says the pub had been “underperforming a little bit in terms of food and beverage”, hence part of the decision to upgrade.

Before the revamp, the Hotel Royal had undergone many iterations, the latest being a “Mexican restaurant” and although it was “pretty successful for a reasonable amount of time,” they’ve now gone back to a traditional Australian pub menu.

“Pub life is a bit… you need to do reno’s every generation, twice a generation, to keep them fresh. We haven’t done a major renovation here in a while,” Scott says.

“It got to the stage where we needed to do something here, and by the time you make a couple of changes to the bottle shop, creating a new outdoor space, it just ends up being quite a major project and away you go.”

A royal offering. This picture: supplied.


This revamp has resulted in a change of menu which includes “all the pub classics”.

“At a lot of our venues, including this one, have a Yoda smoker, so we offer some smoked food, which is really good,” Scott says.

“Another thing that we’ve implemented which we think’s working really well and quite popular with customers, we do shared mains and some shared offerings in the restaurant which is bigger serves designed for multiple people.”

These shared items include a 500-gram ribeye shared lamb, a barramundi that will soon change to half chicken, and regular sides like chips and different salads.

The outdoor space


But the revamp’s main purpose was functionality-wise. There were two main things Scott and the team needed to achieve: a more cohesive working pub which meant moving the front bar, and a brighter outdoor space that let in more natural light.

“We used to be a really dark pub with no real outdoor space because really, the front of the pub faces Henley Beach Road… you get no natural afternoon sun,” Scott says.

“So what we did was in that back corner there, that used to be the bottleshop, storeroom, and then toilets, and then so what we wanted to do is move all bottleshop stuff to the other side of the drive-through and move all [food and beverage] inside and create some more open space.”

Scott says the changes are better shown than described, so he walks us through the Hotel Royal explaining what was once where.

The balcony overlooking Henley Beach Road


Along with the outdoor space, the revamp includes a new multilevel front bar, renovated interiors for a more open, cohesive space and an updated and modernised gaming room.

Scott says part three of the revamp was “making the function room more sellable and making the pub have a better presence from the street”.

“It’s hard to explain why, but the pub never really stood out when you drove past on Henley Beach Road,” Scott says. “So the main part of that was [building] the balcony.

“The balcony never used to be here — it used to have like a kind of fake facade balcony that wrapped around — it wasn’t a balcony, it was just an overhang, which a lot of art deco pubs and buildings have that were built like 60, 70 years ago.

“So we wrapped the balcony around, which makes the pub look a lot bigger and have a lot more street presence when people drive past… and we lit it so it looks a lot better when people drive past.

“[When] your function room’s got an outdoor space, it’s a lot more appealing space.”

Hotel Royal is located at 180 Henley Beach Road, Torrensville 5031 and the kitchen is open from 11:30am until 9pm every day.

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