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February 29, 2024

Ambassador becomes a King in pub’s royal makeover

A landmark CBD pub has been revamped by the owners of a Peel Street bar, with the 'hidden gem' given a big polish.

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  • Words: Claudia Dichiera
  • Pictures: Matisse Chambers
  • Second picture L—R: Darren Brown and Sam Stoios

What attracted co-owners Darren Brown and Sam Stoios to what was the Ambassadors Hotel, was how different the space was.

Darren says when he walked into the joint he could see the potential for what is now the King William Hotel.


King William Hotel
107 King William Street, Adelaide 5000
Mon—Sat: 11am ’til late


“I would describe it as it would have more potential than any other venue that I’ve visited — untapped potential,” Darren says as he and Sam are major shareholders in the Prince Albert Hotel and co-owners of Icarus.

“And it was just too exciting not to give it a crack.”

Darren and Sam on King Will


Darren says the potential comes from how multifaceted the venue is, with four separate levels for different dining destinations.

A beer garden, bar and laneway on the ground level, a private function space on level one, hotel rooms on all three levels — which are not available at the moment — and a basement bar called Velvet Underground that is set to open in March.

“The venue itself is a little bit unusual in like comparing it to others in the way that it’s set up,” Darren says.

“The opportunities didn’t just lie in the small sector within the industry, it was such a broad appeal.

“And collectively, it hadn’t reached its potential for some time. It had sort of been this hidden away gem — giant gem mind you — and potential just hadn’t been tapped for such a period of time.”

The upstairs function space


To revamp the pub, Darren says they have just “enhanced what was already here” which is the best thing to do with most “undertakings of older beautiful buildings and businesses”.

“There are so many features at this building that are gorgeous that we’ve given a refresh and a new life,” Darren says.

“In terms of brightening the place up with obviously paintwork, new furniture, a lot of  plants, which is a feature at any of the venues that I’ve ever taken on.

“We’ve opened it up a lot and really brightened it up — it was quite dark and it was quite dingy and it has been that way for a very long time.”


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These colour choices, which Sam led, are mainly white and green and include a custom-painted mural by artist Kellie Ferenczi along with extra interior additions.

“So there’s a beautiful green marble bar that stretches throughout the centre of the hotel,” Darren says.

“We reinvigorated terrazzo flooring that we actually found by accident, that stretches from the front of the strip through the back.

“This [terrazzo flooring] was put in in the 30s and when we ripped up carpet and lino, we were so surprised to find such detailed beautiful floor with elements — we couldn’t actually find someone that was doing similar things in terms of the brass lining between the tones and fixtures.

“It was just such a chance finding that we got it, and look it was a huge undertaking because it turned out to be a far bigger job than we thought it was, but we just knew that this was exactly one of those features that we had to bring back.”

Darren’s favourite part of the venue’s revamp is the laneway — which used to be a car park — as a continuation of the beer garden.

Part of the laneway


With any revamp, changing the food offering plays a vital role.

Darren assures us that the menu is still “very much based around pub fare”.

“As Sam and I call it, it’s pub fare with restaurant care,” Darren says.

“I think that a lot of pubs don’t probably focus on the smaller details that have the potential to make their food good.”

Darren says they will be taking their food “to a level that most joints don’t take it to” which includes fresh food that isn’t frozen, Australian seafood and hand-crumbed schnitzels.

“So it’s just the elements that probably used to be a little more common in pubs that have gone by the wayside a little bit,” Darren elaborates.

“And elements that have really seen our pub on the other side of the city thrive at a time where a lot of front of house operations are struggling.

“It’s a real heavy focus on customer experience, and realistically in a pub, that is always centred around a kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of a home and the kitchen is the heart of any pub.

“We intend to be able to give it the opportunity to shine like that.”

King William Hotel is located at 107 King William Street, Adelaide and is open from Monday to Saturday from 11am until late.

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