Norfolk Hotel, Fremantle

Staying above a pub may not sound to you like the most glamorous experience – and in many respects you would be right.

Taking a room above a pub often means entering through a back door, passing the kitchen on your way upstairs. It often means a compact room, equipped with just the basics. But it often also means plenty of traditional character, a great central location and friendly service.

This is what a stay at the Norfolk Hotel is all about. We arrived in the afternoon and were checked in to our cosy room with a warm smile. It may not have had a luxurious bathroom or a surfeit of space, but it did have free wifi, a powerful shower, a flatscreen TV and plenty of teabags.

And so we relaxed – for about five minutes. Because we were not in Fremantle to hang around in a hotel room, we were here to explore the town’s famous nightlife, and this was Friday night.

There is no better place to spend a Friday in Fremantle than Little Creatures brewery and so we headed straight for this warehouse building on the waterfront, arriving just in time to see the sun dipping below the horizon – it was beer o’clock. We dined on delicious mussels and kangaroo and knocked back the microbrews until it was time to head back to the hotel, a short walk away in an unbeatable location on South Terrace.

The next morning, that location really came into its own. South Terrace is also called the “Cappuccino Strip” and there are so many bars and cafes along here you could eat in a different place every day for a week. We selected Gino’s, something of an institution in these parts, and ordered eggs benedict and flat whites to enjoy in the sunshine.

Back at the hotel things were just getting started for the day so we took advantage of staying in the heart of the action with a drink in the bar. The wine list at the Norfolk is superb and we relished a cracking Sandalford Estate Chardonnay from Margaret River, just a few hours south. As lunchtime rolled around we found it impossible to leave and so we stayed, sitting out on the terrace to share a seafood plate of scallops, salmon carpaccio, tempura whiting, Szechuan seasoned squid, chilli mussels, prawns, cayenne pepper whitebait and chips. Hours passed as we relaxed in the sunshine, the buzz of Fremantle surrounding us.

Yes, staying above a pub may not be glamorous. But choose the right pub and it can certainly be the right choice.

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