Last time we checked in at the Steyne they were proudly unveiling a shiny new pirate-themed rum and cider bar up on the top floor, with spectacular views out over the breakers from the balcony and a stage at one end for live bands. They’d also given the bistro a spit and polish to use the hotel’s enviable location looking out onto Manly Beach to maximum effect. Another year, another round of renovations and Steyne now has a cocktail bar called Blackett’s, decked out in rough timber and low lamp-light for that frontier-town-saloon feel. Not wanting to rest on their laurels the gargantuan establishment then found room for a Chinese restaurant upstairs too. It’s a move that we are seeing across the city as pubs diversify their offerings so as to pull the crowds that were once just happy for a schooner of New and a bowl of crisps. But for all the glitz and shine of the newer parts of this hard-wearing hotel, there’s a certain appeal to be found in pulling up a stool at the tiled-and-timber public bar, downing a fresh Tooheys Old and watching the Sea Eagles give it their all. It’s worth noting that all the ground floor bars are cash only, which is helpful when the place is rammed on a Saturday night, but less so on a afternoon when you’re after nothing more than a Thatchers Gold English cider. Prefer craft beers? They have the whole James Squire stable, plus three Coopers brews on tap, plus Stone and Wood, 4 Pines, Ekim, Lord Nelson and Belgium’s finest Blue Moon white ale. Something for everyone is a big call but with the Steyne is giving it a red hot go.