Tucked away in the back streets of the leafy eastern Adelaide suburb of Maylands is a hidden gem – the Maylands Hotel which late last year threw open its doors with a new look and feel.

The venue’s operator, family-owned hotel group Matthews Hospitality, broke with tradition when creating the hotel’s new look by choosing boutique residential stylist Deb Barnes rather than a recognised commercial interior fitout consultancy to lead the design.

The refurbishment aimed to cater to patrons wishing to experience creature comforts and intimate, unique spaces when going out in response to the lockdowns and social restrictions faced during the Covid pandemic.

The priority was to ensure loyal patrons had their input in the changes so the hotel didn’t lose its ambience, whilst also attracting a more diverse clientele, according to Matthews Hospitality CEO Andrew Kemp.

To achieve this, different design concepts of the past were consolidated to create a cohesive vibe to appeal to new clientele yet still feel like home to the locals.

“It does not rely on its location or street presence, but once you’ve found The Maylands and experienced its charm, you can’t help but want to go back and enjoy its interesting spaces and inspired food and beverage offering,” Kemp says.

The brief

The lead designer chosen for the project was Deb Barnes, a boutique residential stylist, in a tradition-defying move that aimed to ensure the project broke away from your typical pub renovation.

“Previously, we had worked with a selection of architects, designers and commercial interior specialists to modernise and update our venues,” Kemp says. “The Maylands required something a little different.”

The project design brief highlighted the need to consider a younger demographic, as well as families and older patrons. Matthews Hospitality, which owns nine South Australian venues, was established during World War II by Seymour and Doris (Dossie) Matthews with the Bayview Hotel lease in Whyalla.

In mid-2020, the family implemented a succession plan with Matthews Hospitality now wholly owned by third generation siblings, Lisa, Scott, and Ward Matthews. Deb Barnes had worked on a home design project with Lisa, and the professional relationship grew from there.

As Barnes recounts, “Lisa asked me to renovate the Maylands and I was so surprised. I’d only ever renovated gardens and some interiors of homes, but I thought, why not?

“I’ve always enjoyed the ambience of the Maylands Hotel and I didn’t want to mess with that feel, but I did want to turn up the wow factor.

“I set about creating homey, cosy areas in the pub for diners seeking an intimate experience complemented by quirky, modern touches that inspire and appeal to a younger crowd.”

Want to keep reading? Read the rest of the article below in the June issue of Australian Hotelier.

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