There Will Be Beer :: Town Hall Hotel

April 30th 2013

Is there anyone who doesn’t know of the Townie?

Who hasn’t ended their night in Newtown at the Town Hall Hotel before cramming into the train with the inebriated masses?

It’s hard to review a pub that’s so well known, simply because almost everyone has already made up their mind about it one way or the other.

Everyone I talk to has pretty strong feelings:

  “It’s great.”
  “It’s shit.”
  “It’s mediocre.”
  “Why are you talking to me?”

With Newtown station just next door, you can be excused labeling it a dodgy train station pub. It is a dodgy train station pub. Televisions are locked onto the horse races, gathering a small crowd of disgruntled gamblers; the older gentlemen with suspenders ensuring their pants don’t slip below their nipples, talk about the upcoming races with the younger punters in tracksuits and bum-bags.

Metalheads hunker down around the pool tables, pinball machines and big buck hunters, trying to figure out who has the better Metallica shirt. Goths smoke out the back, a huddled mass of black hair, black clothes and a scrap-yard of facial piercings. Alcoholics stumble around, seductively spilling their beer over you in a peacock-like mating display.

Now, this scene will strike familiar to Sydney drinkers. It has become the uniform for all pubs next door to a station (that said there are a few exceptions to the rule).

But while The Townie puts the ‘dinge’ in ‘dingey’, it’s also very different from its stereotypical kin.

For example, you’d think that with a crowd of gamblers, drinkers, goths and metalheads, there’d be a fight every minute. Yet everyone gets along harmoniously and are actually quite a pleasant crowd to drink with.

One could argue (incorrectly) that this is the type of crowd you’ll regularly find in Newtown, but I believe that it’s actually due to the layout of the pub itself.
Set out over two stories, it feels strikingly similar to hostels I’ve stayed at all over Australia.

Everything flows and yet doesn’t have a structure to it.

You’ll walk through a door and you’re suddenly in the smokers’ area. Due to a nifty open roof design, it is open air but feels very much indoors. There are nooks and crannies to sit in and drink and yet you never feel like you’re cut off from the rest of the pub. There are open spaces as cozy as an amicable common area. The bar staff are friendly and chatty, adding to the whole hostel vibe (minus the seedy German guy with the pro-surfer tan who hits on anything that moves).

You might say that I’m completely wrong.

And while I’m never wrong, you could still stick to your belief that the Townie is terrible.

You may be right (you’re really not).

The Townie is like a Rorschach test, with everyone seeing something different in the ink blot.

My experience will probably not be your experience.

The only way to find out if it’s any good or not is to go there and decide yourself what you see in the stained carpet and marked walls.

…Which kind of makes this review completely redundant.

Oh well.

Daniel Prior.


The Town Hall Hotel

326 King Street

Newtown 2042


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