The Elephant has left the building!
Introducing The Prince Consort and friends to Brisbane’s centre stage
Brisbane’s newest collective of bars is set to open in late October, led by the heritage refurbishment and renaming of The Prince Consort in Wickham Street in Fortitude Valley.
More recently known as The Elephant Arms Hotel, The Prince Consort as it was originally named, is the majestic grand knight of Fortitude Valley. This famed gathering place has fed, watered, and kept the secrets of all who ventured through since 1888, and now, thanks to new owners Tilley & Wills Hotels, it will once again take its rightful place on Brisbane’s centre stage.
The eight-venue collective will be managed by Brisbane-born and highly respected hospitality leader, Jason Hirt, who said it would be a place where guests could choose their own adventure, every day, and every night.
“Firstly, the Elephant has left the building. The hotel is reverting to its original heritage name, and introducing some exciting new ones, with the result being an incredible experience for guests, allowing them to choose between a heritage-style classic English pub, a luxe supper club, a Los Cabos-inspired taco and tequila adventure, a music-driven underground edge, a chilled garden bar and more.”
Meet The Prince Consort and Friends – La La Land, 400 Rabbits Cantina, The Garden Bar, The Naughty Corner, The Bowie Rooms, The Yorke Suites and Greaser, eight spaces in the heritage hotel, each a different experience. The result is a new social master quarter in Fortitude Valley.
The ground floor parlour at The Prince Consort is a nod to the building’s rich history, while the Garden Bar outside is an open-air oasis, brimming with botanicals, washed in a palette of pastels and humming with Queensland vibes and it’s very own stadium screen. Upstairs via the ornate staircase, La La Land is an eclectic, sumptuous bar with booth seating, VIP private rooms and a crystal chandelier-covered dance floor – think super luxe Supper Club. An antler-suspended hallway leads to the unexpectedly themed Bowie Rooms, truly spaces that need to be seen to be understood. On the top level is The Yorke Suites, a boulevard of spaces for music makers and creatives, and in the cellar and able to survive just about anything, the much-loved Greaser. And in the heart of the hotel is The Naughty Corner – every pub has one, this time it’s official!
Menus range from the gastro-pub-inspired offering of The Prince Consort, to super modern tacos starring seasonal ingredients at 400 Rabbits Cantina, to epic pizzas from the wood-fired oven, to shared tapas plates at La La Land.
“We will have 89 beer taps here, pouring everything from contemporary brews to modern crafts and international classics, the wine list will star great Aussie names as well as the young guns taking the industry into new and exciting territory and our cocktail lists are creative, packed with punch and very cool.”
Hirt said transforming The Prince Consort back to its former glory, while also creating the texturally rich new spaces throughout the venue, had been challenging, but the utmost respect had been given to its Heritage Listing.
“We are really excited we have been able to embed 2020 technology into a 132-year-old hotel. La La Land for example, features the very latest livestream technology, enabling events in that space to beam around the world. If one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that we need to have technology available for livestreaming at any time, to anywhere. And we do.”
The Prince Consort joins other Tilley & Wills owned pubs including Sydney’s Greenwood Hotel, Oxford Art Factory and Newcastle’s Hotel Delany as well as hotels managed by the group including The Buena and Bistro Mosman and Clovelly Hotel.
THE HISTORY – take a seat and let’s pour you a history!
You’d be hard-pressed to find a pub in Brisbane with a more colourful history than Fortitude Valley’s 132-year-old, heritage-listed, The Prince Consort. Let’s consider the name for starters. It means the husband of a reigning queen – think Prince Philip, but even before his time! How thoroughly modern of them.
For 132 years The Prince Consort has watched over Fortitude Valley, as one of the city’s original heritage pubs. If these walls could talk, they’d tell a cracking tale. But perhaps best they don’t, some secrets are meant to be kept. Back to the name. In 1888 Queen Victoria reigned over the Commonwealth, and the name the Prince Consort refers to her beloved husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (um, also her cousin). The Prince Consort died in 1862 so the Queen paid tribute to him by changing the name of the HMS Triumph (a ship in the Royal Navy) to The Prince Consort. The ship brought passengers to Queensland in 1862, 1863 and 1864, sailing from the English ports of Liverpool, Plymouth and Southampton. And there’s the connection!
The original Prince Consort Hotel was built on the current site at 230 Wickham Street and leased to former stone mason turned publican John Daniel Heal around 1863. At the time, Fortitude Valley was in a building boom and Heal snapped up neighbouring properties so he could build a bigger, grander hotel.
To design this vision, in 1887 he called on architect-of-the-moment, Richard Gailey. The new pub was built by William Ferguson for £9,400. It took 12 months to build, and a new era began.
About Gailey. He was busy! During the second half of the 1880s, he designed The Wickham (1885), the Empire Hotel (1887), the Jubilee Hotel (1887) and the Prince Consort, all in Fortitude Valley, as well as the Regatta Hotel in Toowong in 1886. To this day all these hotels remain standing and operating. Go Gailey.
When The Prince Consort opened in 1888, it boasted one of the largest bars in Brisbane, three parlours, a large dining room, billiard room, kitchen, cellar, six bathrooms and 28 bedrooms as well as four large shops on the ground floor. Running the entire length of the first-floor facade was a reception area, known as the Club Room. This vision splendid of many spaces under the one roof continues today!
John Daniel Heal became the local alderman for Fortitude Valley and Mayor of Brisbane for a time. The hotel was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992, and has undergone a few ownership changes.
It’s not just 132 years of late-night bar confessions and corridor whispers that make this hotel epic, it was also a preferred meeting place for many a Fitzgerald Inquiry person-of-interest! Let’s just say more than a few brown paper bags were spotted in the day! Now, a new era beckons and under the ownership of Tilley & Wills, the future of The Prince Consort and Friends is inked.