the REX History

REX Embassy Menu – 7th of May, 1961

REX Hotel – 1950’s

Adjacent to the El Alamein fountain, the original Rex site included apartments occupied in the 1930s by Lord Nuffield (William Morris) an English motor manufacturer and philanthropist. (Remember the Morris Minor). In the 1940s it was home to the musical Menuhin family (including Yehudiand & Hepzibah).

During the 1950s and 60s, Rex Investments, a division of LJ Hooker, established a number of hotels and pubs around the suburbs of Sydney and regional Australia.

One of the best-known hotels in the Rex chain was the Hotel Rex, 58 Macleay Street, Kings Cross. The Rex site was re-developed in the mid 1950’s and the hotel opened as an American-style sophisticated top entertainment spot with espresso bar and cocktail bar.

Just down the road, the Chevron opened a few years later with the Silver Spade Nightclub and Golden Grill Restaurant to outdo the Rex. Across the street from the Chevron (number 40), now the Astor Macleay Apartments, was the Sheraton Hotel, where hysteria blocked the street for long periods in June 1964 while the Beatles stayed there on the eighth floor.

Many overseas and interstate visitors, including Frank Sinatra and other famous artists, stayed at the Rex since it was opened in 1951.

The hotel was immensely popular with local people, its best-known features were the Canberra Lounge, American Cocktail Bar and Sidewalk Cafe.

Nightly entertainment was a feature of the Canberra Lounge. Two floorshows were staged every night, Monday to Saturday. Pops and Latin-American music proved favourites with patrons.

The Embassy Restaurant at the Hotel Rex was acknowledged as being among Sydney’s best. The continental menu included specialties as Chicken in the Basket, Silver Chicken and Chateaubri (I wonder how that compares to the Steak frites at Bistro Rex today) and, was recognised by gourmets as Sydney’s finest.

The original Hotel Rex site was demolished in the 90’s to make way for a 255-room hotel. It was a stepped design to complement the existing development, rising from 4 storeys fronting Fitzroy Gardens.

The hotel opened in 1997. The $20 million Multiplex development was bought by Singaporean tycoon Kua Phek Long in 1995 for $46.2 million.  

The hotel was re-sold around 2001 for $40 million to be re-developed to become the REX apartments we know today.

The Rex Hotel was latest in a line of hotels to be converted into residential apartments in the Kings Cross area. The four-star hotel, marked for residential redevelopment, came after the Landmark Parkroyal Gazebo, Top of the Town, Chateau Hotel, Manhattan Park Inn and the Sebel Townhouse.

The residential redevelopment was designed by renowned Sydney architects Burley Katon Halliday, known for designing the Kirketon Hotel in Darlinghurst, and who were also working on the redevelopment of another former Kings Cross hotel, the Gazebo, at the time.

Redevelopment of the Rex Hotel involved substantial changes to the building’s interior and façade. Juliet balconies were added to the exterior to open up the building to the street, extra levels were added, while the interior was characterized by the use of wood and warm tone finishes to create a cosy feel.

The REX is a prestigious residential apartment building comprising 8 levels above ground with a subterranean car park. The Rex is a combined residential & retail complex of 151 apartments located in the heart of cosmopolitan & bustling Potts Point.

The Rex has been serving cocktails since the 1950’s but gone are the days where you could ride a motorcycle though the Rex bar and get away with it.