Excitement is building as the clock ticks ever closer to the launch of Newcastle's first five-star hotel.
Crystalbrook Kingsley opposite Civic Park officially opens to visitors on June 9. The hotel's upstairs bar, Romberg's, will be up and running, as will cafe Ms Mary.
The restaurant, Roundhouse, will seat its first diners on June 23 for dinner.
There are six luxury hotels under the Crystalbrook Collection banner - in Cairns, Byron Bay, Sydney and now Newcastle - and each has its own distinct identity. Crystalbrook Kingsley is the "culturally connected" sibling of the Crystalbrook Collection family.
The 1970s brutalist/modernist building previously used by Newcastle City Council has been reimagined into a vibrant five-star hotel. Both the interior design and colour palette celebrate the history of Newcastle and its future potential.
Crystalbrook Kingsley also celebrates the exceptional food culture that is emerging in Newcastle and uses a range of local suppliers (80 per cent of fresh produce will be sourced from within a three-hour drive) as well as Hunter Valley wine producers.
Ground floor cafe Ms Mary will be open Monday to Saturday, 7am to 4pm (with the exception of opening day, which will be 11am). The space features glimpses of birds, footprints and feather motifs in the Crystalbrook Kingsley brand colours of yellow and charcoal.
The courtyard overlooks Wheeler Place and a mature olive tree.
The cafe is named after Mary Eckford (née Horell) who, at the age of 14, was found guilty of stealing an apron and a handkerchief in Devon, England. She was shipped off to Australia as a convict, arriving in Newcastle in 1801.
She met her husband William Eckford (who later became Newcastle's harbour pilot) on her journey. They had eight children and Mary became one of Newcastle's pioneering European settlers.
Executive sous chef Danelle Onekawa (who was executive sous chef at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley) has designed the Ms Mary menu, which is available from 10am to 4pm. It offers a range of freshly baked pastries from Covered in Crumbs, a selection of grab-and-go items and popular dishes like smashed avocado (featuring ingredients from Newcastle Greens and Baked Uprising) and house-made waffles.
Ms Mary will appeal to inner city workers or residents and visitors exploring the historic civic precinct, as well as those organising corporate lunches and casual meetings.
Romberg's bar will be open from 4pm, Monday to Thursday, and from 2pm, Friday to Sunday.
Its signature cocktail menu was designed by mixologist Arthur Wynne and will feature Australian native ingredients.
Crystalbrook Kingsley has worked with Carrington's Earp Distilling Co. to create a custom gin that will be available exclusively at Romberg's. The gin will have flavours of olive to match the overall theme of the rooftop, and will be used in one of Romberg's signature cocktails.
Designated drivers, keep an eye out for Romberg's two signature non-alcoholic cocktails.
Making your way to Romberg's from the lobby is an experience in itself.
Guests use the original heritage elevators to travel to the hotel's top level where the elevator doors open to a lowered 10-metre marble bar allowing for uninterrupted views.
The decor follows the top floor's olive grove theme, with mature olive trees throughout and hues of green.
The icing on the cake is the panoramic view over Civic Park and Newcastle city towards Merewether through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
In addition to booth seating, Romberg's lounge has low tables to ensure every person can enjoy the scenery as they sip a cocktail and enjoy a light snack.
The menu was created by executive chef Natalie Bolt (who most recently worked for Pullman Hotels & Resorts in Thailand) and sous chef Onekawa.
"Romberg's is a beautiful, intimate setting with booths and low tables," food and beverage manager Mark Sinclair says.
"It is suited to a variety of occasions including date nights, catch-ups with friends, intimate celebrations, after-work drinks and nibbles or a cocktail night out with delicious light fare.
"The setting is slick, sophisticated and social, while being inviting and exciting."
The wine list has a good selection of Hunter Valley wines by the glass, bottle and even some magnums. A top-shelf standout will be the Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz, including both the 2018 and 1996 vintage.
"Romberg's drinks menu features a large range of great local tipples. How could we not, with the Hunter Valley right on our doorstep?," Sinclair says.
"The local focus does not stop at wines - we will also feature Foghorn King Street Pale Ale on tap and, as mentioned previously, we have teamed up with Earp Distilling Co. for an exclusive collaboration gin.
"We also have a great back bar of local and international spirits for visitors to get excited about."
Executive chef Natalie Bolt says Romberg's will have a "stylish small bites menu" as well as charcuterie and a chocolate board to share.
"There is a focus on native ingredients as well as fresh local seafood including Port Stephens oysters and delicious bar-style bites like our Chipotle Brisket Croquettes and The King(sley) Prawn Roll. The menu is innovative, in touch with nature and completely unique to the style of Crystalbrook Kingsley."
Crystalbrook Kingsley, 282 King Street, Newcastle. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 1300 002 050.
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