Naseby’s Hotel Royal shows the country tavern is alive and well

Naseby Hotel owner Jan Rutherford enjoyed being the watering hole of choice for the cast of cowboys involved in the making of Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog.

Olivia Caldwell / Stuff

Naseby Hotel owner Jan Rutherford enjoyed being the watering hole of choice for the cast of cowboys involved in the making of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog.

Pouring a pint to a Hollywood movie star is every tavern owner’s dream, but the Hotel Royal was never sniffed at when Benedict Cumberbatch filmed The power of the dog just down the road.

Luckily, the key to a successful country tavern is satisfying your loyal following: locals, tourists and Kiwi holiday “cribbies,” says Royal Hotel owner Jan Rutherford.

Deep in Maniototo, in central Otago, lies Naseby, a town of 120 people, where the Royal not only survives, but thrives.

The city hosted a few film sets in its time: Goodbye pork piea Japanese film titled The promise and the latest being the Oscar-winning success of Jane Campion.

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But the film’s stars, Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, had places to go, and they never saw them.

“We were hoping because it would have been nice to have them there, but I think their schedules were tight.”

Rutherford said that although Sherlock Holmes didn’t visit, it was exciting to see some of the cast become regulars.

Benedict Cumberbatch never came for a pint at <a class=the Royal Hotel despite filming a few miles from Naseby.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Kirsty Griffin/Netflix/AP

Benedict Cumberbatch never came for a pint at the Royal Hotel despite filming a few miles from Naseby.

“We had the cowboys here, there was a whole gang of these guys. They came as often as they could which is great.

“We got to know them all very well, by first name.

“They mixed it all up, they loved our burgers and buffalo wings, anything with a bit of spice was American boys. They loved the local Emersons beers.

Other favorites on the tavern’s menu are always lamb from Provence, which is raised 15 minutes from Le Royal, as well as pork belly and hot chicken wings.

Naseby Forest is popular with mountain bikers and attracts a lot of tourists to the small town.

James Jubb

Naseby Forest is popular with mountain bikers and attracts a lot of tourists to the small town.

Rutherford and his partner Adrien Hood had the hotel for four years, after their other hotel, The Ancient Briton, burned down in a fire as the Power of the Dog was shot down.

The crew became so accustomed that one of them took a garden hose and put out the fire in Rutherford’s birdhouse, saving his “babies”.

The couple had done a lot of renovations since then, relining the entire interior while keeping the old-fashioned look, she said.

Normally the high season wouldn’t start until November/December, but this year bookings were busy for September with people keen to travel again.

“We’ve just had a very busy summer, the Kiwi servants are traveling and seeing a bit more Central Otago, and then with the borders opening, Aussies are starting to book.”

So who are the people keeping this impressive old building humming?

Rutherford says the pub already has plenty of bookings for September as people are eager to travel again.

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

Rutherford says the pub already has plenty of bookings for September as people are eager to travel again.

“It’s a mixed bag. We have our locals coming in and having their Friday night or Sunday night catch-up with everyone and having a good ol’ yarn and a beer.

“We have the Australian curling team coming over the winter, we have around 60 of them coming to town in August. They like to socialize.

The pub aimed to accommodate “everyone”, including families, events, tourists and of course “cribbies” – those lucky enough to own holiday homes, or “cribs”, in the hotspot of ‘Hollywood.

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