There's never been a shortage of pubs in Tasmania, and at 170 years, the Ship Inn Stanley isn't the oldest pub, but is now one of the island's newest lures.
Stanley is possibly the most picturesque town on the state's north-western coast, its main street laden with stylish antique shops, galleries and wine bars, and a renowned bakery. The Ship Inn Stanley was built in 1849 and is now reborn as a stylish storytelling guesthouse.
Set in the shadow of Stanley's most famous sight, its imposing volcanic plug The Nut, the stone-walled building has history: it's had a roller-skating rink in it, drawn the crowds for its billiards and skittles, and its cold rooms have even doubled as a morgue.
Now, the guesthouse comprises seven sweet suites, designed and decorated by Victorian design duo Inside Story. The look is of soft rumpled linens on cast-iron beds, with a backdrop of timber and brickwork honed by time, and views out to Bass Strait, The Nut or Stanley Harbour.
The Ship Inn's owners, Kerrie and Alastair Houston, moved from Hobart, bringing their own history, their family's art and vintage furniture collection adding an additional layer of warmth and personality to the inn. Each suite has its own name and a tale drawn from the story-rich island: the Wild Wave suite tells of the 1923 shipwreck that sleeps beneath the cold waters of the Bass Strait, off Stanley's coastline, while the Lyons suite recalls the first Tasmanian-born prime minister, Joseph Lyons, who was born next door. Moo-Nut-Re-Ker is the name that speakers of the Indigenous Tommeginne language gave The Nut, and it's suitable that the only suite with a courtyard looks out onto its namesake. Cape Grim is named for the cape an hour west of Stanley. It was the site of a disastrous massacre in the Indigenous-European settler wars, and is now recognised for its pure air and water.
Stanley is a 90-minute drive from Devonport airport, or 2½ hours from Launceston. Each suite has a kitchenette and en suite, and the Stables house a gym and yoga room. Stays from $190 in the Greenhills suite rising to $250 a night for the premier Lyons and Bayview suites, with a Tasmanian-sourced continental breakfast. See shipinnstanley.com.au