While researching our Tasmania road trip I discovered the town of Stanley on the island’s north coast. After looking at a few photos I knew I had to go. The tiny fishing town is full of beautiful old heritage buildings and shadowed by an incredible volcanic plug called ‘The Nut’. It’s also home to one of Tassie’s loveliest hotels; The Ship Inn Stanley.
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The Ship Inn, Stanley
The hotel is located in a gorgeous building that served as a pub from 1849 to 1972 and was originally built by the grandfather of Australia’s only Tasmanian born Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons. Many licensees had their stints and welcomed sailors and locals into the cosy tavern. Over the years it has housed a roller-skating rink and even served as a morgue, when bodies were stored in its cold rooms!
After a stint as a private home, the Ship Inn made its most recent transformation into a boutique guesthouse in 2018 by Tasmanian couple Alastair and Kerry Houston.
Seven unique suites make up the accommodation at the Ship Inn, each with its own compelling story to tell. Lyons Retreat looks out over the humble cottage where the aforementioned Prime Minister Joseph Lyons was born.
Roaring Tom’s apartment is a homage to Thomas Holyman, a seafarer known as ‘Roaring Tom’. It features two king bedrooms and bathrooms, a luxurious lounge with a stone fireplace, as well as a full kitchen. You also have the option of three patio areas to enjoy the bay views or the green surrounds.
Our suite, Moo-Nut-Re-Ker occupies the cosy ground floor at the back of the building. There is a private courtyard below the gardens and ‘The Nut’, with Moo-Nut-Re-Ker being the indigenous name for the imposing basalt mass.
As with the other rooms, it is beautifully styled with maritime antiques and original artworks. The beds are dressed in beautiful linens and down pillows. A well designed kitchenette offers everything you need to enjoy breakfast in the courtyard or at the kitchen table. Local produce is supplied including tea, coffee and milk, jams, honey and yoghurt along with muesli and fresh bread.
Completing the room is a walk-in shower with gorgeous Australian made spa inspired products from Salus.
Next door to the main inn is the guest lounge. As with the rooms, this is beautifully decorated and you can easily lose an hour admiring all the interesting artefacts that furnish the room. It’s the perfect spot for a pre-dinner drink (BYO) or to sit with a good book on the velvet couches, while admiring the views of both the nut behind and the sea in front. There is also a kitchen and an outdoor patio with a water feature if you fancy sitting outside.
Surrounding the buildings are lovely gardens, made up of little floral nooks with chairs, herb beds, lush lawns, and stone walls crafted by Alastair.
There is a gym and yoga studio with weights, a treadmill and rowing machine, free to use bicycles to explore Stanley and a laundry so you can do some washing if you’re on a longer trip.
The Ship Inn is located a minutes’ walk from the beach in the historic town of Stanley, a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Hobart and two-and-a-half from Launceston, or 90 minutes from the ferry terminal at Devonport.
A trip up the nut is a must when visiting Stanley. You can either walk up via the path or take the chair lift to the top. Once there, it’s a 45 minute loop walk with views of the town, beach, sea and out to the historic Highfield House.
In the town itself, be sure to book dinner at the Stanley Hotel and enjoy freshly caught lobster at Hurseys Seafood.
After dinner, Tasmanian Food and Wine is a lovely spot for a relaxing Tassie wine or whisky and if you want to bring some food back to enjoy in the Lounge or your room, stop in at the Provedore for delicious cheese and other local treats.
If the town looks familiar, that’s because it was one of the filming locations for The Light Between Oceans, and you’ll find pictures of the filming along Church Street and Alexander Terrace.