The former Royal Hotel, built in 1889-90 to the design of T. Anthoness, is of state architectural significance as a highly mannered and early example of the English "Queen Anne" Revival style in Victoria. This move towards the red brick idiom in response to developments in England represents a move away from the rendered Italianate expression favoured in Victoria for hotel design and a change in the characteristic corner location. The former Royal Hotel is one of the most richly ornamented and highly mannered examples of red brick hotels in Victoria. Noteworthy features include the elaborate and picturesque treatment of its parapeted gables; twin-arched doors flanking a wide arched bar window with coloured glass; stylised columns; carved scrolls, garlands and pilaster capitals with cherub faces; and elaborate, iron balconettes with Art Nouveau-inspired sunflower motifs. Much of the original internal fabric remains, although hotel elements such as bars have been removed. The original billiard room retains its patterned lantern roof and round, porthole-like windows which pivot open. Other original elements include architraves and the central stair, although the last flight has been altered.
The former Royal Hotel is of state significance for its associations with the slum abolition movement of the 1930s. It was cited in the First Progress Report of the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board in 1937 as one of the most notoroius and squalid examples of a de-licensed hotel used for boarding-house accommodation. Built as superior hotel accommodation and described in the contemporary press as a splendid hotel and an ornament to the town, the building symbolises the rise and decline of a once grand hotel and demonstrates the fate of many de-licensed hotels.