Opposite the entrance to Adelaide’s fine Botanic Gardens, on the corner of North and East Terrace, stands the elegant Botanic Hotel. The architecture and Italianate style of the Botanic Hotel has been compared to a tiered wedding cake. The hotel and adjacent Botanic Chambers form a classic Victorian terrace of buildings. They are a landmark of the high Victorian architectural style from the economic boom period of the 1860s to the 1880s. The scale and architectural exuberance of these buildings reflects the colony's confidence and optimism at that time.
The buildings were designed by Michael McMullen for owner Richard Vaughan and constructed in 1876-1877. Vaughan was associated with the early East End Markets, located near the Stag Hotel, in the 1870s. He also owned a number of sites both in the city and outer suburbs, including the Kensington Hotel.
At the time of its construction, this complex comprised a family hotel and restaurant. Houses and shops were attached on East Terrace and terrace houses attached on North Terrace. The three-storey hotel had 25 rooms. In 1897 the tiered balconies (with their cast iron lacework decoration) were added to the hotel.
Built from Glen Osmond stone, the houses on North Terrace are similar in design and size. Each has a bay window and a balcony facing North Terrace. The mouldings and cement dressings on the house fronts gives the terrace a rich and elegant look.