At first the idea of a weekend away in Blacktown might sound somewhat counter-intuitive, but bear with me...
As you come off the barren M4 Western Motorway just before the Light Horse Interchange - incidentally the largest collection of flyovers in the Southern Hemisphere – you’ll drive along the scrubby edges of Prospect Reservoir… but ready yourself for a shock! Nestled behind the Royal Cricketers Arms - a glorious 1880s pub - you will transcend into a piece of super-modernity.
Atura Blacktown cuts an impressive, angular visage against a backdrop of clear blue sky.
The gleaming white box celebrates beams and sharp angles, with glowing yellow signage that looks even better by night.
This retro-futuristic vision is the work of architect Peter Israel, with a nod to Jørn Utzon – the man who made smooth concrete and exposed fittings so chic at Sydney Opera House.
Interior designer Nic Graham, who made a name for himself on the cool interiors of QT Sydney and QT Gold Coast, adds some hipster credibility to the hard-edged, uncompromising space, creating a high-quality playground for the common people.
The architecture echoes the beams and screens from the neighbouring Skyline Drive-In, enticing you to consider what film you’ll choose as your nightly entertainment...
...as you sip on a poolside Atura Sour ($16).
The Timewarp Package (from $179/couple) combines a funky room-for-two with a drive-in movie and morning-after breakfast, with about 250-metres of driving in-between.
This will allow you plenty of time to wander the halls taking in Martin Mischkulnig’s beautiful images of suburban folk and their collections, that echo...
...the pieces of retro-kitsch you’ll find dotted across the rooms and large communal space.
Housed in Danish-style plywood cabinetry, the selection of handpicked Grab and Go items include splashes of sheer brilliance - like underwater cameras for use at the neighbouring Wet’nWild.
If you’re on a budget you’ll find heat-and-eat meals you can prepare in your fully-equipped kitchenette or let them do the work for you at the Roadhouse Bar and Grill.
Breakfast shows off Atura’s attention to detail, with enameled cast-iron Le Chasseur pots resting on subtly incorporated cook-tops, dispensing with the need for an ugly bain-marie.
They make buttery mushrooms finally work on a hotel buffet.
High quality produce, from Lurpak butter to T2 teas, help the small range outperform buffets of bigger size.
This eye-for-detail also extends to the rooms, where fancy Malin+Goetz products ensure you can forget your (salon) shampoo.
Atura Blacktown really ups the ante on four-star, delivering what is basically a five-star experience without any fluff or pretension. You won’t find white tablecloths, but you will find an eager, young crew - handpicked from surrounding suburbs - who seem rather chuffed to watch you marvel over finding this hotel in their ‘hood. They’ll fill you in on where to find local restaurants and attractions; and even if the caged bar mimics the slick QT Sydney look, they won’t bat an eyelid if you forgo upmarket spirits for a Bundy’n’Coke.
Finally, if staying jacked-in is critical, complimentary hotel-wide wifi, cloud printing, and large-screen Apple iMacs should help you Instagram your friends into a frenzy of envy.
Yes, this is totes how the West was… win!