After 32 years of ownership, the Stevens family has handed their iconic London Hotel in Balmain to inner city operator Ray Reilly in an off-market $8.5m sale handled by JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.

The Victorian-style sandstone hotel pub has a commanding corner position at the east end of Balmain’s Darling Street and has been owned and operated by the Stevens family since 1989 when they acquired it from South Australia’s Coopers brewing family.

The London was given a major refresh during the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown period and has two separate bars, 10 gaming machine entitlements, kitchen and dining facilities, function room and disused first floor manager’s residence.

The London Hotel adds to Ray Reilly’s growing stable of pub assets that includes the Sydney Park Hotel in Newtown, White Cockatoo Hotel in Petersham, The Henson in Marrickville and the Sutton Forest Inn in the NSW Southern Highlands.

“This was a no-brainer for us – The London is a Sydney institution,” Reilly told Australian Hotelier.  “There’s not a lot of work to do, we’ve just got to bring our own touches to it and carry on. It’s a cracker of a venue.

“The hotel is heritage-listed, and it’s been lovingly looked after. We’ll just tweak it a little – we are a genuine food and beverage operator, so we place a big emphasis on front of house. We put our heart and soul into each venue and we get the right people in there and it’s worked for us so far.”

Built in 1857, the London is also one of Sydney’s oldest pubs being and has operated nonstop since 1870. The site was once part of a Cooper’s Brewery Complex, according to its former owners.

“As a family, we have thoroughly enjoyed our tenure at The London, making lifelong friends owning one of Sydney’s great hotels,” family representative and director William Stevens said in a statement. “We are thrilled with the sale outcome and couldn’t be happier for Ray and his team – they have certainly got a fantastic pub on their hands.”

JLL Hotels Senior Vice President, Ben McDonald, who managed the sale said: “By reputation, The London is certainly one of those inner-city, drawcard hospitality institutions that many seem to have a fond affiliation with. It’s authentic, pristine condition is a testament to the private owners who have played a big role in the Balmain community for a long period of time.”

“This sale continues to shine a light on the buy side requirements and demand for pub assets at all levels,” McDonald said. “Current buyer depth is impressive with increased competition continuing to fuel growing asset prices.”

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