Howard Glenn and Andrew Leiboff admit they were armed with "more courage than determination" when they took on renovating one of Dungog's landmark buildings.
The owners of the Royal Hotel in Dowling Street have taken the art deco hotel to a new level of boutique accommodation with a sympathetic renovation.
According to the Dungog Historical Society plaque on the building the first hotel on the site was built by Alexander Donaldson in 1850 which was later replaced with another building. Known then as the Durham Hotel it was demolished and rebuilt in 1912. The current building was built in 1939 by Tooths using "Inter War Functionalist" style.
The reinvigorated Royal now caters for life in 2021 - and life in a reinvigorated Dungog.
At the rear of the building is the purpose-built bike sheds catering for guests using the flow tracks on Dungog Common. The fully secured, lockable garages are monitored with a camera which guests can keep an eye on with their smart phone.
Stepping in to the foyer of the Royal (after being buzzed in) you are greeted by a magnificent staircase, chandelier and gold patterned wallpaper adorning the high ceilings.
Dungog tradesman Neville Bale told Mr Glenn he remembers the wallpaper going up in the 1970s when he was an apprentice.
"You wouldn't choose this, but now that it's here, you wouldn't get rid of it," said Mr Glenn of the striking feature.
Living in the town's central business district, the pair were concerned about what could happen with the iconic building when it came up for sale in 2019. They had the perfect solution. Buy it themselves and turn it into boutique accommodation.
"Whenever we run events in the town there's always a shortage of places to stay," said Mr Glenn.
When the Australian Orchestra (ACO) performed at The James Theatre in April the performers stayed at the Royal.
While they were at the concert the Royal's manager Terri -Ann Kirkman weaved her magic to present the rooms for the guests' entrance. The fire was raging and the candelabras were gleaming along with their reflection in the gilt-edged mirror.
When the ACO's artistic director and lead violinist Richard Tongetti walked in he was heard to remark: 'How cool is this place!'.
"You don't forget that," said Mr Glenn.
As well as keeping the beautiful decor of the era the hotel is not without modern comforts guests expect in 2021.
The check- in desk remains (with bell of course) where you can collect your room key - with actual key tags which were made in Britain.
Out the back where the bistro and a couple of pool tables recently lived it is now a dedicated function and event space.
"This is the only place in town where you can have a business seminar with two channels of wifi throughout," said Mr Glenn.
The Performing Artists of Dungog are monthly fixtures on the stage.
The purchase included a clause that restricts the premises to be used as a hotel for five years but they hope to open a restaurant and cocktail bar now that a catering liquor licence has been approved.
"The biggest fear for guests staying at old hotels is shared facilities so we've upgraded the bathrooms so there's privacy, with movement sensors managing lights, exhaust fans and heaters," said Mr Glenn.
There's new plumbing, new beds, new linen, smart televisions in each room for guests to connect to their Netflix, air conditioning and ceiling fans, fast wifi and discreet security cameras. Underneath the old carpet was 1940s newspapers and beneath that, wooden floors that even floor polisher Michael Wilson was excited about.
"We've done everything with respect to the past, we haven't really changed things."
The original 1940s wardrobes have been refurbished and the Dungog Menshed members stripped back and repaired the hotel room's original luggage racks.
The owners did not take many progress photos.
"The renovation is not the story for us," said Mr Glenn.
"We really want to tell the story about discovering Dungog as this pleasant place where you've got luxury and you've got comfort.
"We want new people to come to Dungog throughout the year. Finally we are creating things that can be done all year in town rather than the one-offs. Instead of making up stuff for people to come to Dungog we are showing the things that are here already."