Port Macquarie’s waterfront landscape includes the Royal Hotel building adjacent to Town Green. The original Royal Hotel built by Major Archibald Clunes Innes was advertised in 1841 '…The comfort and luxuries, if you visit the Hotel Royal, will render it MONTPELIER itself'. The luxury 27 room residential hotel was destroyed by fire in 1886. When the new hotel of the same name was rebuilt it was described as one of the finest marine hotels in NSW and a ‘… building next only in grandeur to Solomon’s Temple…’ The Hotel’s scenic and waterfront location was also an attraction to amateur fishermen lured by the proximity to the river with the Hotel advertising that fishing was possible from its balcony. In 1888 the new Royal even boasted a skating rink in one of its large rooms.
In the early 1930s, one traveller described the Royal Hotel as ‘magnificent’ and ‘Our speculations regarding future home comforts were discarded, for the first view of this House gives ample promise that our lots were fated to be cast in pleasant places. A profusion of display made up of elks and staghorns and other decorative shrubs native to the district give a decided artistic touch to the massive face of the structure, and somehow tended to indicate the style, system and attention to the management within…’
At that time, the hotel comprised 40 rooms with a modern sewerage system and hot and cold running water, despite there being no Council water supply. To accommodate the needs of motoring tourists, the Royal also offered a large motor shed. Robert Sydney (Bob) Stanfield took over the license of the Royal Hotel in 1936. He advertised the hotel in Sydney newspapers ‘…right on waterfront, wonderful views, surfing, swimming, fishing, boating. golf, tennis. Safe, sunny beaches. First-class accommodation. Sewerage. Moderate tariff…’
In 1937 Bob Stanfield secured a real Royal connection for the Hotel. On behalf of patrons celebrating the silver wedding anniversary of Port Macquarie’s pilot, Captain Leslie Liley, which happened to fall on the wedding day of former King, Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor to Wallis Simpson, Stanfield sent off a short cablegram to the Duke ‘Congratulations, very happy marriage from the boys, Royal Hotel, Port Macquarie’. Much to Stanfield’s surprise he received a reply. Addressed simply to ‘Royal Hotel, Port Macquarie’ and on crested notepaper was a note of thanks. ‘The private secretary is desired by the Duke of Windsor to express to you His Royal Highness’ thanks for your telegram of good wishes, which are greatly appreciated’.
Sadly, shortly afterwards Captain Liley, who had been most pleased at the Duke’s unexpected response, was drowned when he was thrown overboard from the pilot boat whilst crossing the Hasting River bar.
The Royal Hotel was ‘modernised’ in the late 1960s and underwent significant refurbishment in 1999.