Eltham pub's a winning spot

ONLY two years after taking over Eltham's Friendly Inn Hotel, Toby and Lucinda Black have put the country pub on the map after being named finalist in the upcoming Australian Hotel Association (NSW) Awards.

The hotel, which will soon be officially known as the Eltham Hotel, will vie against seven others for the title of Best Pub Style Accommodation (Country), with the winner announced in Sydney later this month.

“It's really great recognition for all the hard work that's been put into the place, because there were certain criteria that had to be met to become a finalist,” said Mrs Black, who is a fourth-generation hotelier, cutting her teeth running pubs in Darwin.

When the couple, who have two young children, bought the pub they decided to give it a bit of a spruce up – painting the interior and adding awnings.

“The pub has a lot of history and people are connected it, so we didn't want to change it too much because the local people really like it,” Mr Black said.

After the work was completed, Mrs Black and her mother decided to tackle the upstairs and its rarely used accommodation. Walls wererepainted and the old inch-thick shag pile carpet was pulled up, revealing the original timbers.

“It was a nice surprise when we pulled up the carpet,” Mr Black said. “The timber floors are from when the pub was originally built and each room has five or six timbers in it.”

Mrs Black said they wanted to keep the character of the pub, so decided to keep the 1950s and '60s–style bathrooms and simply polished the floorboards.

Each of the four rooms has a queen-sized bed and a double fold-up, and its own bathroom facilities.

Rooms start at $90 a night.

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