The Arab Steed is one of the first hotels in the southeast corner of the city, and since September 1849 there has been a hotel named the ‘Arab Steed’ on this site. The first, like many early colonial businesses, appears to have been a single-storey structure. In 1877-1878 the first hotel was knocked down and a new, two-storey building with sixteen rooms was built in its place. This is the structure you can still see today.
Similar to the Botanic Hotel and Chambers, which was constructed about the same time, The Arab Steed also has attached terrace houses. The five, two-storey terraces facing Gilles Street were built in 1877. Unlike the Botanic Hotel and Chambers however, the hotel and terrace houses were built by two separate owners. William Baillie Holmesby sold the Arab Steed to James Farrow in October 1876. William owned the adjacent land to the hotel and built the terrace houses on it, while James rebuilt the hotel the following year. Although owned by two different owners, the Arab Steed and terrace houses were nonetheless built to complement each other.
The terrace houses are also unique as they were designed to be investment properties. The Sprod family owned the houses for over 80 years, and it was only in 1972 that they were given separate titles. The exterior of the terrace houses have remained relatively unchanged.
The Arab Steed’s design is very similar to other hotels built at this time in the city, and like the Exeter and the Austral Hotel, it has a typical chamfered corner on the outside. Unlike its Rundle Street counterparts however, the Arab Steed never had an elaborate verandah or balcony constructed as part of its rebuild. The verandah you can see today was added much later to the building. In the 1930s the exterior of the hotel was modernised with render applied to the façade.
The Arab Steed is a prominent feature of Hutt Street and the southeast corner of the city.