Eight years in the making. That seems to be the headline of today’s launch party of the new Guildford Hotel. There were times when all of us in the Eastern suburbs thought the historic building would remain as a ruin. Then there was talk of developers not willing to fork out a ton of money to redevelop and a lot of back and forth with the local Council. We saw hundreds of socks getting hung on the scaffolding of the building in protest. People were willing to give up their socks for access to beer (and to have a beautiful historic building restored).
Although I drive along Guildford road all the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the construction site. Tonight, I was getting dressed up – I use this phrase very loosely as I don’t have a cocktail dress to speak of, although the mention of tonight’s dress code by David Gardner, the man in charge of PR for the launch, didn’t literally mean that ladies had to put on a cocktail dress on a cold windy night – to attend the reopening of the new Guildford Hotel.
Funnily enough, there were women literally dressed to be frozen while their +1s were rugged up with a winter coat. It was an especially peculiar experience for me as I have never been known to queue up to enter a bar. There were hundreds of shivery people wrapped around the side of the building, lined up to get into the venue. Luckily, it didn’t rain so we only had freezing ladies (not the wet ones).
I admired the turn out. Mid-week opening of a bar attracting this many people? Suppose it’s because the building had quite a bit of a reputation over the years – getting built, not built, abandoned or demolished. I was quite amazed by the PR guy’s ability at that point. And now the building is back with all the ‘reconstruction surgery’ completed and it’s looking younger than ever. Walking inside, I felt a welcoming warmth, not only from all the bodies but also from several fireplaces. The lighting was warm as well, with just enough visibility.
The new hotel has several distinctive areas. Main bar, outdoor beer garden (I’m guessing), upstairs lounge and a function room. Every area has a number of details evoking the hotel’s history and charms. I felt rather envious of the person (a photographer) who would get to use every nook and cranny of the place as backdrops for photo shoots.
And oh boy did they put on a spread!! I must say if it wasn’t for the fact that I already had dinner and that I’m on a calorie restricted diet I would have had a really good feed at the party. I did not pick up a single bit of finger food on offer. Not even a drink. There was food and drink everywhere. My +1 went the whole hog on ribs and fried little morsels and he wasn’t alone in milling around the bbq area to pick up freshly carved ribs straight out of the charcoal grill.
There was lots of cheer and glitter. As the formality began, I heard the names of ‘distinguished guests’ and among them was the Premier of the State. I assume if he was turning up to an event like this it must have been quite significant, hence the large crowd. It’s still a bar opening though. There are quite a lot of significant events that he skips.. makes me wonder…
Just a few titbits
– my dressing up involved Gail’s Dawn top by Gail Thompson and a pair of tux trousers from Abu Dhabi purchased in 2003.
– interestingly, the ladies at the door didn’t have my name on in the guest list although I did receive their RSVP confirmation. They asked who invited me and my answer (correctly) was David Gardner which let us in.
– there were so many (mature) ladies I would have liked to photograph. It was too busy, crowded and noisy to strike up much of a conversation with anyone. Well, that’s my excuse.