Set in the most central of locations, The Rex is a popular Potts Point apartment building with a unique history.
Once famous for its restaurants and nightlife, a who’s who of music and entertainment passed through its doors after they first opened in the 1950s – everyone from Frank Sinatra to Midnight Oil.
The early days as a hotel
“The Rex” was a part of a popular hotel chain owned by Rex Investments, a division of the real estate company, L.J. Hooker. The Kings Cross hotel, which opened in 1951 at 50-58 Macleay Street, was perhaps the best-known of all their hotels.
The Rex’s dining and drinking venues, which included the Canberra Lounge, American Cocktail Bar and Sidewalk Café, were popular with locals.
According to a Canberra Times article from 1960, The Rex had “nightly entertainment, under the direction of Ron Fabri,” at the Canberra Lounge:
“Two floorshows are staged every night, Monday to Saturday. Pops and Latin-American music have proved favourites with patrons. The Embassy Restaurant at the Hotel Rex is acknowledged as being among Sydney’s best. The continental menu, including such specialties as Chicken in the Basket, Silver Chicken and Chateaubriand, is recognised by gourmets as Sydney’s finest.”
A flyer from the 1950s bears the slogan, “through these doors pass the most exciting people.”
One of those exciting people was Frank Sinatra, who stayed at The Rex when he toured Australia in 1955.
The Rex was definitely the place to be and be seen.
Photos from The Rex’s heyday from the 1950s into the swinging sixties show a terrace with tables laid with checked tablecloths, umbrellas overhead and the footpath filled with men drinking in summer. Neon signs advertise “suppers” and “dancing”.
A menu from its Embassy Restaurant in 1961 advertises “Avocado Pear a la Parisienne” alongside lobster mornay, seafood cocktail, French cutlets, and veal steak with mushrooms.
By the 1970s it had become one of Sydney’s popular live music venues. Midnight Oil and The Skyhooks both played The Rex.
In 1978, The Rex was the last hotel in the Rex chain to be sold off. It was bought at auction for $2.25 million by a buyer who had “particularly asked that his name not be disclosed”. It continued to be run as a hotel until around 1997 when it was demolished for redevelopment ahead of the Sydney Olympics and put up for sale.
The Rex Apartments
The story of The Rex was part of a trend for commercial hotel buildings in the area to be reconfigured into apartments.
Between 2000 and 2003, approximately 16 hotels in and around Kings Cross shut their doors for good, with familiar names including Top of the Town, the Gazebo, The Sebel and The Crest also transformed by developers into apartments.
Today, apartments in The Rex are highly coveted. The building was re-imagined and re-designed by local Potts Point architecture and design practice BKH (Burley Katon Halliday). Its 165 apartments over nine levels were completed in 2005.
The Rex is now home to a range of apartments from one-bedroom to four-bedroom, including multilevel sky homes and penthouses. Some feature terraces and even roof gardens.
While it may no longer be known for Sydney’s best nightlife, The Rex does have a reputation for being a well-run and maintained strata scheme. It’s also known for its contemporary, airy light-filled design.
The Rex landmark lifestyle
With commercial shops at ground level, The Rex is more than just an apartment building – it’s a local focal point and a true part of our community. The complex still features a popular restaurant – Bistro Rex – but in place of the nightclubs and bars, are now a convenience store, an Australia Post outlet and a Pharmacy.
The Rex is also home to a community centre and has several conference rooms for rent.
Despite its central location, the contemporary design means residents of The Rex also enjoy a secluded resort-style lifestyle, with concierge service, a gym, and a private indoor heated pool and spa.
A unique opportunity
We currently have an apartment at The Rex, 215/50 Macleay Street, on the market.
This unique four-bedroom, three-bathroom haven overlooks Fitzroy Gardens, providing a spacious luxury residence that’s a masterpiece of style and sophistication. Set over the complex’s largest floorplan at 170 square metres, the apartment features secure parking for two cars and lift access.
If you want to experience modern life at The Rex, it simply doesn’t get better than this.
If you’re interested in buying or selling in The Rex or in Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, contact my team today.