Harbord Hotel by Alexander &CO.

  • Harbord Hotel by Alexander & Co.

    Settled on the surf coast of Sydney, Alexander &CO.’s Harbord Hotel blends the old and the new to deliver a unique hospitality experience.

    Sydney-based design studio Alexander &CO. have transformed what was once an outdated three-story building in Freshwater, New South Wales, into a modern-day bar-meets-restaurant with retro undertones. The intention for Harbord Hotel was to expose elements of the building’s past while instilling a new ‘effortlessly cool’ and paired-back persona. As long-standing locals and lovers of Australian surf culture, the owners also wanted to design a hotel that spoke to the Freshwater community. With this as its blueprint, Harbord Hotel invokes a style that could be accurately described as ‘surf-shack chic’, infused with an appreciation for an old-school era.

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    As you step through the front entrance of the building, to the left is Harbord Hotel’s very own Balsa restaurant. The restaurant perfectly captures the relaxed atmosphere of a coastal pub, with an added fine-dining experience. Using only sustainable and locally sourced produce, Balsa’s menu takes inspiration from the flavours of the ocean – smoke, salt and wood. Food is just one of the many ways Harbord Hotel has embraced its coastal heritage and paid homage to Freshwater’s vibrant surf culture.

    Alexander &CO. director Jeremy Bull also mentions that they wanted to explore a “surf-shack come living room style” for Balsa, uniting exposed spotted gum ceilings, green marble surfaces and stone flagged floors, all illuminated under amber lighting. He adds that the faded palette makes a strong case for an old-school era; “sea-foam greens, periwinkle pinks, and gunmetal greys” measured against brass and timber finishes.

    “Built by locals for locals; Harbord Hotel is a beautiful gift from the local trade and craftspeople to their very own community.”


    – Jeremy Bull

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    Balsa’s surf-shack charm was also carried through to the front bar, situated to the right of the front entrance. Retro-inspired custom lighting and furniture, Art Deco archways, and masonry detailing preserved from the building’s original structure all inform a relaxed coastal aesthetic

    The front bar was envisioned as a multi-functional space that Balsa guests, or those just after a drink or two by the sea, could enjoy and use freely. Overlooking the beer garden below, it is also one of the best spots to sit and unwind. 

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    A mosaic of retro surf magazines evokes a sense of nostalgia and reinforces Harbord Hotel’s coastal roots.

    Redesigned with the mantra ‘built by locals for locals’, Harbord Hotel is a celebration of the community that it is embedded in. “We intended to bring Harbord Hotel back to the Freshwater community”, Jeremy says. The building’s design tells a story of Freshwater’s working-class history and long affiliation with Australian surf culture. As a token of their community spirit, the owners even brought in their own collection of vintage surfboards and retro surf magazines to add personal authenticity to the space.

    Harbord Hotel by Alexander &CO. encapsulates the true essence of Australian coastal hospitality. It incorporates a considered blend of the found and the familiar, offering a space where locals can come together to appreciate their home and its heritage.  

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    A newly refurbished staircase leads to a dedicated events and functions space on the second floor. 

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    The beer garden recreates a vintage pool-side scene, with cream and mustard umbrellas, stone floors, cactus plants and limestone walls.

    “Transitioning seamlessly from day to night; young to old; the narrative captured by Harbord Hotel not only acknowledges the heritage of the building, but speaks to the unique surf culture of the Northern Beaches.”


    – Jeremy Bull

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    Alexander &CO. kept the building’s original masonry exterior to accentuate its strong heritage bones.

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