554 Ruthven Street, Toowoomba QLD Australia • Freecall: 1800 633 679

Lennon's Hotel

At the time of opening, Lennon’s hotel was the tallest building in Toowoomba and one of the largest hotels built in Queensland. The six-storey masonry building was designed by influential modernist architect Dr. Karl Langer and opened in 1957.

Burke & Wills Hotel

The hotel as it stands now was designed by Dr. Karl Langer, an acclaimed Austrian architect who came to Brisbane in 1939. He and his wife brought direct experience of the European Modern Movement to Australia and fulfilled key roles in many art organizations over the years.

Burke and Wills Hotel Renovation 2018

Renovation 2018

After 335 days of intense internal & external renovations, the all-new Burke & Wills Hotel reopened its doors on May 13th, 2018. Fully refreshed and upgraded after over 15 million dollars worth of new an improved accommodation and facilities.

Burke & Wills Hotel in Toowoomba is a testament to the innovation and ambition of the Sixties. Constructed in 1957, then known as  Lennon’s Hotel was a feat of engineering and quite ahead of its time.

Burke & Wills Hotel began its life as the Exchange Hotel in 1863. This building was demolished in 1956 and in its place, the Lennon’s Hotel was built. This hotel, then the tallest building in Toowoomba, was opened in 1957. It was subsequently renamed the Lennon’s Toowoomba Hotel-Motel in 1966 and changed hands in 1969, becoming the Koala Motor Inn. After going through a number of name changes and new management, it emerged as the Burke & Wills Hotel we know today.

In 1957, when the Lennon’s Hotel opened, the Toowoomba Chronicle ran a large number of adverts and articles on the new hotel. The formal opening of the Lennon’s Hotel was carried out by the Mayor MJR Anderson at a dinner in the hotel. The Lennon’s Hotel Toowoomba was part of the Lennon’s Group of Hotels, which also operated in Brisbane, Broadbeach, and Kirra.

The hotel as it stands now was designed by Dr. Karl Langer, an acclaimed Austrian architect who came to Brisbane in 1939. He and his wife brought direct experience of the European Modern Movement to Australia and fulfilled key roles in many art organizations over the years.

While employed at Brisbane City Council, Dr. Langer designed a range of town planning projects in Darwin, Ingham, Yeppoon, Toowoomba, Canberra and Mount Isa. He had a significant influence on Queensland architecture and designed many iconic buildings in the state, including the chapel at St Peters Lutheran College and the Lennon’s Hotel at Broadbeach. In regards to the Lennon’s Hotel in Toowoomba, Dr. Langer stated that he had placed the hotel back from the street to avoid it clashing with the City Hall, as it “would not be right for the hotel to compete on the main street with the City Hall.” The hotel is supported on a large concrete ‘raft’ that prevents it from sinking into the swampy ground.

In 1957, a number of shops were attached to the hotel on the ground floor. They had telephone connections to each room in the hotel so guests could place their orders easily. Shops included a hairdresser, a chemist, a florist, a beauty salon, a gift shop, a clothes shop and a newsagent. The fountain in the frontcourt of the hotel featured a black granite penguin sculptured by Leonard Shillam. The water from this fountain was used in the hotel refrigeration system.

Every room in the hotel was “luxuriously appointed”, with wall-to-wall carpeting, large windows, a telephone and bathroom and toilet facilities. Each room had its own colour scheme, many devised by the architect’s wife, artist Gertrude Langer.


Queensland Hotel


Opera House Hotel


Exchange Hotel


Lennon's Hotel

About us

Burke & Wills Hotel is owned and operated by the Hakfoort Group, a proud family owned and operated group of hotels and retail outlets, located within Queensland. Burke & Wills Hotel reopened its new revolving door on May 12th, 2018 after an extensive full internal and external renovation costing over $15 million dollars. The all-new Luxury Hotel includes 69 four-and-a-half-star rooms, 13 five-star suites, two restaurants, a bar and five modern function rooms to name but a few new features and facilities.

Burke & Wills Hotel combines old-school extravagance and first class service with just the right measure of modernity to offer guests the most luxurious accommodation within the Darling Downs region.

View Rooms & Suites

History 1957 - 1988

The Exchange Hotel was renamed Lennon’s Hotel (as part of the Lennon’s Group of Hotels in Brisbane, Kirra Beach, and Broadbeach) on 17 September 1956 but closed and demolished to make way for the new 6-story Lennon’s Hotel designed by Karl Langer in post-war international style with ‘all bed-sitting rooms having their own private bathroom and modern amenities’; it cost £400,000. It also featured a courtyard with pool, fountain, and ornamental penguin (‘Shillam’) fronting Ruthven St, a beer garden, and distinctive 170-foot bar constructed from (empty) champagne bottles embedded in plaster. (Shillam was sculpted by Queensland sculptor Leonard Shillam from black granite with a bronze beak but it mysteriously vanished after several years.) The hotel was officially opened on 1 April 1957 with an invited audience of 400 male guests; three weeks late 300 female guests were treated to a cocktail party (TC, 25 April 1957). The bar was demolished in 1964 to make way for a 600-seat function room and the bar (much smaller) moved to the Ruthven St frontage formerly occupied by shops, an oyster bar, and bottle shop. It was the tallest building in Toowoomba.
The hotel was taken over by Federal Hotels in February 1961, renamed Lennon’s Toowoomba Hotel-Motel in November 1966 and then successively Koala Motor Inn (17 October 1969), Ambassador Hotel-Motel (13 June 1972), Zack’s International Hotel (7 October 1975) as part of the Davy Hotel Group, and Telford’s Toowoomba Hotel in July 1980 (bought for $1.82 million). Telford marketed it as ‘Toowoomba’s International Hotel’. The Telford Property Fund Ltd, a Sydney-based company, then spent about $1.4 million on renovations, including the installation of air-conditioning on ground and first floors and redesign of the kitchen; it was managed by Robyn and David Bramwell (TC, 25 March 1982)
It then became the Four Seasons (1984-1989) and the Burke & Wills (1989). The new owner, Gordon Bartlett, bought it for about $3 million and spent another $3 million remodelling it by building a glass-walled swimming pool, reducing the restaurant seating from 70 to 50 and relocating to the rear with a separate entrance, bringing the coffee shop into the foyer, and updating the bistro as a ‘private club’ (TC, 17, 21 Dec 1988).

History 1993 - 2018

The Burke and Wills was placed in receivership in mid-1993 (TC, 12 June 1993). The 93-room hotel was acquired by Sir Frank Moore’s Fortland Trust in November 1996 with a $1 million dollar face-lift to the Ruthven St frontage in the following months (TC, 30 April 1997); the Trust was listed on the Stock Exchange in 1999 (TC, 14 April 1999. In September 2000 the hotel was taken over by the Accor Group, at a cost of $3.63 million, and re-branded as the Burke and Wills Mercure hotel but it was placed on the market in November 2002 (TC, 20 Sept 2000, 2, 15 Nov 2002). An offer of $3.54 million in February 2003 was turned down (TC, 9 Feb 2003) followed by a massive furniture sale in May 2004 (TC, 31 May 2004). It was sold for $3.747 million in November 2003 with re-branding as a Quality Hotel, part of the Flag chain (TC, 19 Nov 2003).
The new owner was Albert Hakfoort’s Hakfoort Hotel Group. It was extensively renovated during 2004-2005 to produce 80 corporate rooms, 12 suites, 8 family rooms, board room, 4 conference rooms plus Albert’s restaurant (TC, 5 May 2005). Hakfoort marketed it as part of the Choice Hotels Group, a subsidiary of the Quality Group. [The Hakfoort Group also owned Stock Exchange, Gowrie Rd, and Newtown Hotels.]
It was home to the Zack’s Coachman (1975), Spanish Room (1978), Garden (1981), Conservatory (1995), and Albert’s (2004) restaurants. In 1960s it was the ‘home’ for Col Weimers’ band with the Macarthur Room being a major band venue in the 1970s.
Heritage listing of the hotel in 2015 failed to proceed. In June 2017 the hotel was closed for a major $10 million internal and external renovation bringing accommodation to 85 rooms (15 X 5-star suites and 70 X 4.5 star suites), 5 function rooms, 2 restaurants, a bar, and extended gaming room (TC, 30 May 2017). Renovation started in mid-July 2017 by the McNab Group. The owners also offered a $10,000 reward for the return of Shillam (TC, 28 Feb 2018).

Licensees 1956-1962

William Albert Ryan, 21 Sept 1956; Walter Herbert Butler, 11 April 1857; James Edwin Head, 25 Aug 1958; Rudolph Fabian, 1 Oct 1959; Walter Hecht, 13 June 1961; George Bernard Fletcher, 26 July 1962. From Clements: Raymond Malkin Farmer 1965; Anthony John Dams 1965-1966; Richard Stefanitsch 1966-1968; Robert Frank Tullet 1968-1969

Toowoomba’s Luxury Hotel

Burke & Wills Hotel is the ideal place to stay whether you are here for business or a holiday. Please be assured that service, quality and comfort is our main priority and we look forward to making your stay with us memorable


Clinging to the edge of the Great Dividing Range escarpment at an altitude of seven hundred meters above sea-level, Toowoomba city affords breathtaking views of Table Top Mountain and the Lockyer Valley region across the east of South West Queensland.

Burke and Wills Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the central business district boasting the ideal location being only minutes walk to the retail, legal, medical and business precincts.

Historical information supplied by Emeritus Professor Maurice French.