“We’ve always loved it here, it’s a gorgeous, old-fashioned seaside pub. There are plenty of other places in Manly [selling high-end food and drink], I hope this one stays the same.”

Barry Fagan, 62, from Manly was equally blunt: beer prices must come down.

“I used to be able to get a schooner for 20 cents. Now it’s $8.

“But seriously, I’ve been coming here for 40 years. It’s an icon of Manly, you hope that a new owner could respect that. “

Hotel Steyne is metres from the beach.

Hotel Steyne is metres from the beach.Credit:Nick Moir

Last year more than $1 billion worth of hotel assets changed hands in NSW and close to $100 million worth in the market in the first two months of 2019.

Beachside pubs, unhindered by the Sydney lock-out laws, have been a prime focus of the investor arms race.

Pub tsar Justin Hemmes bought and revamped the Newport Arms on Sydney’s northern beaches, followed by the Collaroy nearby. The Laundy pub family and Fraser Short joined forces five years ago to buy the Mona Vale and Northies pubs for $57 million.

In the eastern suburbs the chance to enjoy sun, surf and an Aperol spritz has seen owners including Short and Stuart Laundy renovate the Watsons Bay Hotel, while Hemmes has upgraded the Coogee Pavilion.

After two years of rebranding, hospitality giant Solotel, owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran and businessman Bruce Solomon, sold the leasehold of the popular Clovelly Hotel in Sydney’s upmarket eastern suburbs beach precinct late last year.

The pair had bought the pub in December 2016 for a reported $30 million and sold it to the group behind Sydney’s Verandah Bar, North Sydney’s Greenwood Hotel and The Buena in Mosman for an undisclosed price.

HTL Property Asia Pacific managing director Andrew Jolliffe said there was a range of likely buyers for “The Drain” from the listed pub sector to private investors or other consortiums.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be engaged to sell a number of the nation’s signature hospitality offerings, but the Hotel Steyne is arguably the most prolific and certainly well-known beachside hotel, with generations of locals and tourists frequenting this noteworthy institution,” Mr Jolliffe said.

Originally built in 1859, and then remodelled by Tooth & Co in 1936, the Hotel Steyne features six bars, two restaurants, a designated gaming room with 30 poker machines and an accommodation level.

Carolyn Cummins is Commercial Property Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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