Stanley's Hotel, in the town of Macraes Flat, is available for free lease to the right person, after failing to attract a lessee over the past
People have until this coming Monday (19 Oct.) to register an expression of interest in leasing the property.
The property is owned by the Macraes Community Trust, and has been attracting interest from all over NZ and as far afield as Oz.
Stanley's Hotel was built in 1882. Tom Stanley, Kentish-born son of a sea captain, took over a ramshackle hotel at Macraes Flat, and decided to rebuild. He quarried stone from the hill behind the Catholic church, and engaged a Hyde stone-mason called Budge, to "build me an inn that will last." Budge, noted for his craftsmanship... and his huge capacity for beer, erected an inn fit for a king. It took him five years - on some days he did not face a stone, succumbing to an invitation to "come and have one" before he put foot on the ladder. His payment was wholly in beer and, when the building was finished, it was estimated he'd consumed 72 hogsheads' worth (a hogshead being 54 gallons/250L)!!!
The single-storey schist hotel remained in the Stanley family until 1960. Nearby Oceana gold mine bought it in 1997, and gave it to the community. It's been an institution for many years and locals are very keen for that to continue, beyond the looming closure of the goldmine in 5-10yrs.
The hotel is one of the few illustrations of the type of C19th hotel that used to be common in goldfields Otago. It is the only surviving hotel from that period in Macraes, and is the most substantial building in Macraes Flat. It now has a Heritage NZ Cat.1 listing.
Mind you, although it's a mainstay of the local community and travellers, some backpackers found the previous host less than endearing, so whoever takes over the lease should consider the quality of service for what could be a valuable tourist opportunity.