It’s no easy feat to revamp and reopen a pub that’s been a stalwart of Sydney’s hospitality scene since the 1800s. Owner Laundy Hotels (Quarrymans Hotel) addressed the need to pay homage to the pub’s colourful history, while reimagining the space for contemporary punters. And it’s proved successful – the $14 million overhaul has already been shortlisted for the 2022 Eat Drink Design Awards.

When reimagining the pub, Laundy Hotels creative director Justine Laundy and Sydney architecture firm Luchetti Krelle (Jane, Bathers’ Pavilion, Bopp & Tone) took cues from the hotel’s waterfront location and the Med, with blue mosaic tiles, terrazzo and a pebble-grey hand-sponged paint job.

The Woolly Bay Hotel experience begins at the ground-floor public bar, a cosy lounge-like room with floor-to-ceiling French doors opening to views of the waterfront and harbour beyond.

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Upstairs is Arturo’s, a new 100-person casual restaurant led by Laundy Hotels’ executive chef Jamie Gannon and head chef Adam Holt. Gannon and Holt have designed the Mediterranean-influenced menu around the bounty of Australian produce. Gannon says most of the menu was created during last year’s lockdown, and inspired by the hotel’s new fit-out.

“The bones of the menu was written and tested in my kitchen at home during the second lockdown,” Gannon tells Broadsheet. “It was actually a really pleasant experience having the time to be able to do this. Instead of focusing on the one … cuisine I built out the menu to hero the very best of Italian, Greek and French cuisines, so we are able to offer an array of different dishes.”

Small plates include kingfish crudo with lemon oil and cucumber; Vannella burrata with tomato and soft herbs; and a lobster roll packed with chives and smoked salmon pearls. Heftier options are built for sharing: there’s a 12-hour braised lamb shoulder with oregano, lemon and garlic; an 800-gram bistecca alla fiorentina; and a buttery whole butterflied market fish.

“We lean heavily on local producers – using Australian-made and home-grown is really important to both myself and [the group’s] overall food philosophy,” says Gannon. “We use a variety of New South Wales suppliers and growers, specifically from the Nepean and Hawkesbury regions, which are local to our sister restaurant, Sinclair’s [in Penrith].”

Upstairs is the crowning glory: Arturo’s Rooftop, a bar wrapped in glass windows with a terrace and views of the city skyline, harbour and Art Gallery of NSW. An earthy palette of warm oranges and white mosaic tabletops, along with lush plants and ceramic jugs combine with a Euro-tinged cocktail list – including the Naples Nectar (rum, Cynar, Fiorente elderflower liqueur, lime juice, orgeat syrup) and the Zephyr (dry vermouth, sherry, olive bitters, lemon bitters) – to transport guests to the Med. Share plates such as a pork rillette jaffle, and potato scallops with taramasalata and caviar give Aussie flavour to the classic cuisines of Europe.

Woolly Bay Hotel
2 Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo
(02) 9357 1177

Public bar
Mon to Wed 10am–midnight
Thu to Sat 10am–2am
Sun 10am–midnight

Thu to Sun midday–10pm

Arturo’s rooftop
Mon to Sat midday–midnight
Sun midday–10pm