But a recent Saturday morning event in the west presented me with a unique opportunity to go west the night before - to the rather new Atura Blacktown hotel by the AHL group that also owns Sydney's boutique QT Hotel, and the adjacent Skyline Drive In cinema.
|Atura Blacktown, Cricketers Arms Road, Blacktown|
You're (probably) on the right track to reach the beacon-like, white-and-yellow-lit Atura Blacktown on Cricketers Arms Road. Opened in late 2013 as a newly-built three-storey structure, Atura Blacktown is the first of a new chain of design hotels by AHL aiming to bring some style and quirk to city fringe, suburban or regional areas where there's still demand for accommodation.
|Pool table and seating on the ground floor lobby|
The hotel's philosophy is based around "high connectivity" and "low guest maintenance" which means free WiFi and a huge shared space lobby incorporating reception, entertainment, the Roadhouse Bar & Restaurant, and a Grab & Go pantry where quick snacks, microwaveable meals and other necessities are there for guests' grabbing and purchasing convenience.
Then, there was the full mini bar with drinks, including booze, snacks and even microwave popcorn for drive in cinema or in-room consumption - the latter a rather tempting offer with the on-swivel flat screen television and free movies on offer - yes, free movies.
|Artwork and sofa|
|Roadhouse Bar & Grill dining area|
(Image courtesy of AHL)
|The open kitchen at Roadhouse Bar & Grill, Atura Blacktown|
|Aperol Spritz (left) and Dark and Stormy (right) cocktails|
I opted for a weather-inappropriate pre-dinner Aperol Spritz, while the Dark and Stormy was also served classically: tall with Goslings Black Seal rum and topped with ginger beer and lime.
Served considerately atop a leafy salad with pickled carrots, the not-small golden-surfaced prawn pieces were deliciously easy to enjoy, especially with a sweet chilli lime mayonnaise drizzled over.
|Baked beetroot and goat's cheese salad|
|300g free range Kurobuta pork chop, potato gratin and beans|
The huge, well-grilled pork chop came with a glossy, tasty gravy but even that couldn't get me all the way through the quite lean chop, while the potato gratin was irresistibly filling.
|200g eye fillet steak, Grassland, NSW|
Cooked to medium-rare as requested, the petite but thickly cut steak was a tender affair that was best with the rich pepper sauce.
|Eye fillet steak served with fat chips and sauces|
|Queue at Skyline Drive In, Cricketers Arms Road, Blacktown|
I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks of Grease at the sound of a drive in and it's all the fun you imagine and more. Drive in, queue up in your car, pay per person at the entry then park in one of the many designated spots.
|Watching a movie at the drive in!|
|Grab and Go pantry at Atura Blacktown|
|Roadhouse Bar, by day|
|Cereals, milk, yoghurt and fruit at the breakfast buffet|
|Yoghurt, fruit and juices|
Next to the breads is the conveyor belt toaster machine which warmed my English muffin though I wouldn't have called it toasted. I think I need more practice with those machines.
|Buffet breakfast plate|
|The pool at Atura Blacktown|
|Chairs by the pool|
|Atura Blacktown exterior by day|
(Image courtesy of AHL)