This Newcastle icon invites you to revisit
For as long as any of us can remember, Customs House Hotel has been a part of the Newcastle skyline. Designed in 1877 by James Barnet, the heritage listed building was transformed into a stunning restaurant, bar and function venue in 1995, and has since been delivering to guests some of the best foreshore and harbour views in Newcastle.
Whilst little has changed to the exterior, owners Kim and Michael Starkey, who took over the business in 2018, have brought their always-welcoming ethos to every aspect of the venue.
A self-confessed hospitality lifer, Kim has grown up in the pub scene and together with Michael they know better than most the importance of offering an all-round quality experience,
“I was two when my parents bought their first pub, and it was in 2000 that Mick and I moved into the family business, and we’ve been running pubs since. We have three venues now - Customs House Hotel, The Stag & Hunter in Mayfield, and Jimmy Joans in Lovedale. They’re all completely different, but what we’ve taken into each venue is always being hospitable and welcoming.
“We’re very actively involved in the industry and love it, and we’re all about offering great service. There are so many quality venues in Newcastle now, and you can have excellent food and drinks, but if you don’t welcome your customers it doesn’t matter.”
And welcoming any and all is what Customs House Hotel does best, with a space for everyone and every occasion, even your furry friends.
Entering via the beer garden, one of the largest in Newcastle, the area brings a relaxed lounge-style atmosphere. With no bookings required, the space is ideal for those seeking an after-work wind down spot, cocktails, and live music, even those wandering past after a day at the beach are invited to quench their thirst and grab a bite to eat.
Whilst the exterior might project a more formal type of expression, the modern Australian menu brings a casual beat,
“We don’t see ourselves as being a fine dining venue, we do however take our food and drinks seriously. There are no pre-made cocktails, they are all made to order, the coffee for our Espresso Martinis is brewed fresh each day, which we pride ourselves on. On busy nights we can have three cocktail makers on the go.”
Kim continues, "we have a great team, the staff are an integral part of our business and the venue wouldn't be what it is without them. It's our staff that allows us to bring about the great service, and it does take a team, especially with having multiple venues."
Heading upstairs through the sandstone arches, it’s here the building’s Italianate Renaissance Revival design is revealed and best appreciated as you take a seat on the verandah. It’s fair to say there’s no better place to be in Newcastle than on the Customs House verandah, and it can be hot property so best be booking your seat.
From the verandah take it inside for a more sophisticated big-city bar experience. The vibrant atmosphere allows you to still enjoy those spectacular views whilst escaping our unpredictable weather. The extraordinarily high ceilings, dramatic architecture, and vibrant beats bring an other-worldly ambiance, ideal for relaxed catch-ups through to more formal social occasions.
Customs House Hotel brings more than 140 years of history, and tales worthy of exploring, in the most comfortable and welcoming of ways thanks to Kim and Michael’s love and dedication to the industry.