The Oaks Hotel Art Deco Upstairs In Style

Carl Screwvala
2nd Dec 2016

Tonight The Oaks celebrated the 78th birthday of the huge Oak tree that stands proudly aloft its large outdoor area, that much like the hotel, has slowly risen over the ages into a true iconic jewel of Sydney.

The pub was held by the Furlong family from 1918 -1975 and it was in this era that the namesake and what turned out to be its biggest asset was planted. In 1938 the seedling was planted in the backyard by Kathleen McGill (nee Furlong), after receiving it from the old Anthony Horden's department store in George Street; a promotional custom of the store being to gift Oak seedlings to any to any patron spending more than Ten pounds.Contrary to popular belief that its name stems from the tree, back in its humble beginnings in 1885 the hotel was originally named after the Oaks Steam Bricks Company which used to be next door. The tree planting was likely a reverse-fitted tribute, but one that ultimately came to define the space.

Since the Thomas family took over the hotel in 1975, the space continued is grand ascendency and under Andrew Thomas the pub underwent a $4 million renovation in 2013 to both retain its art deco roots but modernise the space to align with growth of trendy boutique hotels and modern gastro pubs that have swept sydney and continues apace today.


That original renovation focussed on downstairs but recently the upstairs also had a playful overhaul, and tonight they showcase the new spaces, which are available for hire for private events. Possibly Australia’s best known interior designer, Sibella Court's design firm The Society Inc. have been behind some high-profile renovation work across Sydney, including Palmer & Co., Mr Wongs and Ms.G's. And here they have revived the art deco with bloom and confidence, crossed with a light dash of art nouveau sophistication, to create some striking new interiors that throw the appropriate nods, but still remain relaxed hotel spaces.

Across several varying rooms, bars, pool rooms and balconies, mirrored and glassed surfaces meet drapes and carpet in classic greens, aquas and browns. Large brightly coloured geometric murals in the pool rooms and patterned seating covers are reminiscent of the bold designs of famous artists Sonia Delaunay and Clarice Cliff. Even the hallway has become more of a gallery than transitional room, re-hanging family owner David Thomas’s collection of Australian history and pub art. And the various bars feature the characteristic rounded formations and glass drinks cabinet styling.

So whether it be a casual drink or a private function in a modern space with a touch of classic class (a deeply competitive space these days in Sydney renovations), but without all the hustle and bustle of the ever popular main venue, you can’t go far wrong then a visit upstairs to the tree line at The Oaks.

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118 Military Road
Neutral Bay
+61 2 9953 5515

Mon – Tue 10am – midnight

Wed – Fri 10am – late

Sat – Sun 10am – midnight