lady startup

One of the few female publicans runs a hotel, restaurant and the China Diner brand.

Natasha Smith is the owner of The London Hotel in Paddington, New South Wales.

She is also the co-owner of East London Restaurant (located atop of The London Hotel) and the China Diner brand.

So, you know, she’s beyond kickarse.

Read her interview with Mamamia below…

What is The London Hotel?

The London Hotel is the quintessential neighbourhood pub offering a vibrant destination to socialise, savour a great bite to eat, unwind and enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

East London Restaurant is a sophisticated venue in its own right. Diversifying the classic offering of The London Hotel, it delivers contemporary Asian cuisine with traditional Sichuan and Shanghainese flavours.


Natasha Smith. Image: supplied.

China Diner combines fresh flavourful dishes, playful cocktails and a relaxed dining experience to deliver a whole take on the 'Chinese restaurant'. Catering to young couples and families, it is sophisticated dining without the formality and utilises the playful diner concept to create a fun and energetic venue.

What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?

I actually wanted to be a journalist. I did a cadetship at News Limited where I worked in each sector of the company and wrote numerous articles for newspapers such as The Australian.

After I worked as a journalist, I set up my own child care business, Bambini's in Centennial Park, at the age of 24, which was one of the first high quality day care centres in the country in 1994.

What made you want to start your own business?

I love the challenge of watching an idea grow into a unique product. I also wanted independence so I could balance my family and home life with work.


Describe the staff/ownership structure of your business.

The London Hotel is solely owned by me. I co-own the China Diner brand and East London Restaurant with my husband, Kingsley.

Did you require investment to start your business?


What kind of advice did you get before you started and from who?

I got a lot of advice from my Dad who stressed the importance of listening to people and always staying in touch with the world and what is going on.

What's the single best piece of advice you got?

Trust your instincts and have a go.

Scroll through to see some of the delicious food and drinks offered at The London Hotel. (Post continues after gallery.)


What's the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?

Be patient.

At Mamamia we have an expression "flearning" - failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?

I don't believe anything is a real mistake. Everything happens for a reason and everything is a learning experience. If you turn a mistake into a lesson learnt then it hasn't actually been a mistake. You definitely learn so much along the way.


What's the smartest thing you've done since starting your business?

Keeping both businesses relevant and modern. Listening to what our customers want and not what we think they want. Offering a variety of healthy options on the menu and ensuring that everyone feels welcome.

Are there any pieces of technology or software, apps or systems that have made it easier to do what you do?

Definitely Uber, navigation apps and Instagram.

LISTEN: Women are notoriously terrible at self-promotion, and that needs to change. The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss. 

What do you do when you're feeling like you're in a hole emotionally (or financially)?

I go out and have a laugh and debrief with my girlfriends or my husband and kids. They always tell me to get over myself and keep going.

How many hours a day do you work on your business? Has this changed?

As many as it needs. It's always different. However, my children always come first.

What are your non-negotiables?

Having at least one laugh a day. If we are at home, it is also non-negotiable that we all sit and have a family dinner together with no devices.


What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?

That everyone around me would be as loyal to me as I am to them.

Tell us about your proudest moment. 

Every time I watch people laughing, relaxing and enjoying our venues.


The London Hotel. Image: supplied.


What does your personal life look like?

Amazing! I have my husband and my four beautiful children. They are my whole world.

How much sleep do you get every night?

I try to get eight hours otherwise I am grumpy and hungry the next day.

What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?

Plan ahead. Do your homework and then go back and do more. Know your product inside out and who your market is. Don't compromise or wait until the right location, opportunity or situation comes your way. Be prepared and leave no stone unturned before you commit a single cent.

Do you have a mentor?

Definitely my Dad.

Since we're in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Start Ups do you recommend?

Barb De Corti is a female entrepreneur whose sheer passion and exceptionally hard work has seen her company, ENJO, become one of Australia's most recognisable cleaning brands. Barb is an inspiration to women and demonstrates that hard work and dedication pays off.

You can see more from The London Hotel at their website, Facebook and Instagram. If you have a #LadyStartUp or want to recommend one for us to cover, drop us an email: