The Historic South Australian Hotel


Whenever people talk about buildings that have disappeared from our city, it isn’t long before someone mentions ‘The South Australian Hotel’ that used to stand on North Terrace. “The South” was more than an icon, it WAS Adelaide for almost 100 years.

For an establishment that bought a distinctive style and elegance to our city, and reflected an appreciation of the finer things in life, it certainly got off to an agricultural start. When the first version of the hotel opened in 1879, they celebrated by barbequing a bullock on a spit inside in the parlour. In 1893, a new building was erected and named ‘The South Australian’.

In 1899 it was tricked up again with stairs and balconies, and on the inside, it looked like this.

There were seventy-two rooms and seven suites all lavishly decorated, air conditioned with twenty-four hour room service and a quick scan of the menus of the south reflects a dedication to the discerning diner but also to the times.

In 1929, the flavours of France were the dominant theme. You’ll also notice that there was plenty of toasting before any tasting!

In the war years, the fare was sombre and sensible, roast turkey, apple pie, custard. But, whatever the year, whatever the occasion, if you wanted to impress, you did it by dining at ‘The South’.

That is until 1971 when the hotel was demolished and the Victorian jewel removed from Adelaide’s hospitality crown. In its place, a hotel as modern in the 1970’s as The South was almost a 100 years earlier. The Beatles may have been the South Australian Hotel’s most famous guests, but everyone who ever walked through its doors would remember with fondness just how special it felt.

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