Historic hotel likely to become top spot

It is a million-dollar view of Fremantle not seen by the public for almost a century.

The National Hotel rooftop is one of the few places you can experience 360-degree views of the historic port.

Sailor's wives used the vantage point in the 19th century to watch for ships arriving, when it was dubbed "widows' walk".

Only accessible by ladder, the space was used by select hotel guests as a walkway.

When Karl Bullers took over the hotel in 2010, public access to the iconic space became a priority.

"It was a U-shaped walkway but we filled in the courtyard and made the staircase through the hotel so it is one big open area," he said.

"We have got planning approval to put a bar and restaurant on the roof."

Though regular public access to the rooftop is at least a year away, people can get a glimpse of the space on tours during Fremantle Heritage week, which runs from Friday to May 18.

As well as the National Hotel, owners and architects at Fremantle's Bread in Common and Hougoumont Hotel will explain the process of transforming heritage buildings into modern venues.

"I will talk about history of the building, the challenges I faced getting the venue open again and why it is designed the way it is," Mr Bullers said.

Fire has ravaged the National Hotel at least twice. Mr Bullers said fire protection was a major challenge of redesigning the rooftop.

The West Australian

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