8 January 2024

Here's cheers to a luxury five-star staycation in the Riverina

| Vanessa Hayden
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Couple making a toast while sitting in lounge chairs

Liane and James Gawne have developed the perfect reason for a ”staycation” in the Riverina – their beautifully renovated, luxury art deco property in Leeton, Rooms of Renown. Photos: Supplied.

Fancy a little staycation that will have you thinking you are in New York?

Leeton’s recently opened Rooms of Renown will have you believing you’re in The Big Apple and you won’t have to take a 24-hour flight to get there.

Owners Liane and James Gawne renovated the 103-year-old property over 18 months during COVID and say it is as gorgeous as any five-star hotel in a capital city.

“Everyone needs time out … from work, from commitments, and sometimes, from the kids,” said Liane.

“But not everyone has the time to drive or fly to the city to escape for a weekend [or the family help to make that happen], so enter the ‘staycation’.

“A staycation is a holiday that you spend in your own home town, relaxing and enjoying leisure activities there. No plane tickets, no five-hour drive, no extra time needed … just you, your significant other and an indulgent 24 to 48 hours.”

Rooms of Renown is housed in a heritage building in Leeton’s main street and had been vacant for decades before the local couple, lovers of vintage items and heritage experiences, took it on.

Over the years, the building has had many faces and names, including as a dental surgery, cafe, library and stationery shop, printing and stenography services, and at least two fashion boutiques.

Many Leetonians know the building as “Gaskin’s Lending Library” and fondly remember the twin sisters who were the owners from 1941 and lived in the residence at the back of the building.

The original art deco building, established in 1915, was expanded in 1920 to create The Renown Refreshment Rooms, which is where the business’s name comes from.

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Each of the apartments is named after an element of surrounding Leeton history – The Panaretto Parlour is named after the Greek brothers who founded the original cafe; The Enterprise Suite is named after Enterprise Hall; and The Gilded Globe is a nod to The Globe Picture Theatre, both of which adjoined The Renown Refreshment Rooms.

“We love the Riverina, and we’re keen to showcase that you don’t need to travel outside of the region to experience an indulgent weekend away,” said Liane.

“We are offering some great specials and if you add to that a special five-course ‘La Degustation Renown’ at the award-winning restaurant Pages on Pine, you’ve got an indulgent local getaway in the bag.”

Hotel room in art deco style

Rooms of Renown has already welcomed guests from as far afield as Perth as well as locals and is clocking up consistent five-star ratings.

During the renovation project, the pair found some intriguing parallels between the original refreshment rooms and their own venture.

“One of the first things we did was get underneath the building to check the foundations,” said James.

“Imagine our delight when we found hundreds of peanut shells and bottle caps from the open-air picture theatre that operated next door during the 1920s.”

Researching the building’s history before launching five months ago, James also discovered the establishment was described in the media as having a “beautifully decorated interior and handsome furnishings equal to the best metropolitan standard” and opened exactly 103 years earlier to the month that Rooms of Renown did.

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“From the opening month 103 years ago to the brothers’ desire to create an establishment unlike the people of Leeton had seen before, we were delighted to uncover the parallels between The Renown Refreshment Rooms and our venture, Rooms of Renown,” he said.

“Like the Panarettos, we’ve worked hard to curate three very individual and different spaces for visitors to our town, leveraging Leeton’s stunning art deco history.

“Rooms of Renown is deliberately different. The Panaretto brothers set out to raise the bar with their establishment 103 years ago and we hope we’ve done them proud with this next piece of history for 36 Kurrajong Avenue.”

Room rates start around $195 a night.

For more information, contact Liane and James on 0427 728 232 or visit Rooms of Renown online.

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