The Common Room bar is relaunching half of its iconic premises thanks to some highly- talented local artists.

After six years on the upper east side of Hastings, Common Room, voted Best Local in the Bay four years in a row, is unleashing a brand-new feel.

Proprietor Gerard Barron calls the new look "dystopic Miami motel circa 1966".

"We are asking our patrons to imagine a time when the jungle takes over the cool hang outs and the only people left alive are crazy artists!" he jests.


Darryl 'DLT' Thomson, hip hop identity and graffiti artist, has taken up the spray cans and left a wall-sized tiki as his creative response to the new look. It's rendered in rock 'n' roll red and black.

Award-winning artist Kate White has gone "deep green" working over existing mural work to create an imagined jungle bringing the outside in.

"We wanted to bring this idea of cool, green and lush indoors as a retreat and a sanctuary in summer," Barron said.

"People are looking for escape during the hot days in the Bay, so we've gone a kind of anti-paradise to counteract this awesome place we live in."

Hastings' favourite watering hole was a trail-blazer in terms of stocking mainly craft beer.

Barron said that was driven by a desire to offer people a choice and support independent operators.

"For decades we have been drinking brown swill - that was part of the Kiwi drinking culture because we didn't have any options. At the start I had people come in who were Tui drinkers but it's changing and now they wouldn't drink anything else except craft beers.

When he opened he said Lion and DB tried to sign him up to their beer lines.


"They want your soul - you get all the beer lines and sweeteners like fridges, but you get tied up in a five-year contract and can only stock their beers - I always wanted to give customers a choice and support local businesses."

Meanwhile, the new old half of Common Room opens today just in time for the start of summer.

And, rather than a ribbon, a string of barb-wire will be cut to mark the occasion.