The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

The White Horse Hotel; majestically saved by a radical refurbishment

The Surry Hill Hotel has undergone some serious changes recently, transforming itself into a one-off, trendy, hub. Words by Zachary Klein.

The White Horse Hotel; majestically saved by a radical refurbishment


September 16th, 2014

When designer Matt Woods of Matt Woods design was offered the opportunity to outfit The White Horse Hotel as an industrial fueled Bikers hangout, he was compelled to say yes. A fellow motorcycle enthusiast, Woods has created a multi-dimensional space that plays on gender roles to create a compelling series of venues within the hotel.


“The goal was to create two venues within a venue, sort of his and hers bars with distinct characters to each owner,” Steven Hiles explains, “downstairs being our take on a café racer-inspired biker bar, dark and garage in feel serving up American styled food and beverage. Upstairs was to be much more feminine with everything white and fresh, lots of plants and lighter lighting”.


The innovative by-product is a renovation that allows the White Horse to be viewed in a totally new context; neglecting it’s dilapidated past and returning to its high status within the social community of Crown St.


With a philosophy and design rooted in the heritage of the site, the boys followed strict protocol in observing its history, making the eight-week transformation rather costly. “Working with a very short turn and around a very tight budget was always going to be a challenge”, says Mark Woods, especially when you commission one off murals from popular local artists like Ben Morris. However it’s the details like this that are crucial in creating the one off type atmosphere that people have become familiar with in most of Surry Hills popular spots.


Woods portrays his conscious design morals in the eco-friendly materials that give the space an individual twist. Structures made of FSC Plywood and recycled timber allows a soft edge to be revealed in the otherwise tough biker interior. Upstairs however, the natural elements of the venue add to its feminine composure.


Overall, the dramatic restoration of The White Horse Hotel residing on 381 Crown St, Surry Hills acknowledges the design integrity of Matt Woods in helping it remain one of Surry Hills most interesting attractions.

The White Horse Hotel


Matt Woods Design

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed