It's always depressing to enter a pub via the Pokie room. Never the most glamorous area, there's the fervid atmosphere of poisonous addiction, and the most recently demoted and miserable member of staff leans over a newspaper resenting any interruption. Perhaps it's best not to go into the Shelbourne via the Sussex Street entrance unless you're a gambler, in which case, heaven help you.
It does get better, however. A lot better. Upstairs from that dank pit is a very nice bar with a great beer garden opening onto Market Street - a bit noisy here most of the time (traffic) - but this is the way to enter this seriously red and comfy pub. They have these pseudo-Chesterfield sofas (lots more on the other levels) which would make you want to lie down and snooze if it weren't for the good view of Cockle Bay Wharf and a rather nice drinks list. Plus, the fact that you'll be competing with about a million other people for said sofa. This pub is opposite the former Fairfax building, and while those old hacks have since moved on there are still plenty of local workers who call this pub their second home.
Pop upstairs (a lot of stairs here) and you get to the dining room which also functions as a function room - very nice. And if the emphysema doesn't kick in you could even get to the Altitude Bar on the rooftop, but only if you've been invited to another function - which is a shame, because this is the best part of the pub. Great layout, more comfy pseudo-Chesterfields, and glorious views - but reserved for functions only. A thoroughly functional pub, recommended for functions.
Austin Harrison, April 2008