For years we have heard that Parramatta is set to be the “second city” of Sydney, growing to be a serious precinct with all the mod-cons a typical city requires. We’ve seen the stadium fall for rebuild and the restaurant scene bring in serious names, now we see the first of many 5 star hotels in the west.

Skye Hotel Suites is a mega hotel owned by the Crown Group featuring 72 apartment style suites ready for your check-in. While part of the building is for permanent residents, you’ll find more than enough variations of room to suit your next trip. The hotel also features a pool, spa, sauna, gym and meeting spaces aplenty.

The hotel is the first of many from Crown Group as they now seek to launch their Sydney CBD hotel and later in LA and across Asia. The premises in Parramatta sets a real theme once you enter the building. Wooden panels and gold sheets adorn the hotel lobby and this theme continues to the bedroom. There is no second guessing that this hotel was built with the overseas traveller in mind. A train ride from the Sydney International Airport will land you here in a short period of time and the experience will have you wondering if you actually did get off at the CBD train stations.

This hotel is one of the first to feature an automated, mobile check-in process which by-passes the hotel reception desk and allows you to walk from the aeroplane to your room. Your phone will receive the digital room key and room number so that you can progress up the elevator and to the suite without stopping. Bluetooth technology is used to securely enter your suite and the technology experience doesn’t end there. No in-room dining menu will be found and no ugly hotel paperwork. The in-room iPad however will be ready and waiting for you, make reservations, book a massage or read the news from this single device and enjoy the simplicity. Prior to arrival you will also be asked about bedding, not just whether you want a double or twin, but what your mattress preference is to ensure that you get the feel you want, before you arrive. Trevor Long spoke to Wayne Taranto on Talking Lifestyle to find out more.

Each suite is also very equipped with many featuring a full size fridge, oven, stove, dishwasher, dryer and even pots and pans. If we wanted to stay in and cook we wouldn’t be scarce of a single utensil with everything provided and ready for use, including a fully equipped Nespresso machine.

Instead, we head downstairs to Husk & Vine, possibly the best restaurant the west has ever seen.

A short back-story… The land here was purchased over seven years ago. A hotel on this site wouldn’t normally take that long to build, an archaeological discovery was made during the process. The remains of an 1840 convict residence was discovered and had to be preserved in the process. This knocked the timelines way out but it also provided an amazing space for guests to the hotel or restaurant to discover. The well, the rooms and even the cellar has all been unearthed and prepared for display in an amazing way that helps tie the old with the new.

Sitting down for dinner at Husk & Vine is an interesting experience. You are in Parramatta, you know so because of the commute. However, if you forgot what is outside and simply looked around the room, you would swear this was high class dining in the CBD. The beautiful decorations, the warmth and intimacy of Husk & Vine will have you comfortable and curious about what is in store for your meal.

The menu at Husk & Vine is very wholesome, expect amazing beef, chicken and seafood dishes. Modern Australian is how we have defined it yet the flavours seem to come from all over the world, really symbolising what Parramatta is. The menu is representative of the cultures in the area and what Sydney, well – Australia is. A multicultural society, the most diverse continent on the planet. Husk & Vine take all of that in, from the seasoned flat breads to the bombe alaska.

We dined on a variety of entrees from the breads, to the swordfish and the fried chicken. We enjoyed the beef cheeks for mains but loved the typical steak too. The wines are all boutique and unlikely to be found outside of the restaurant. We enjoyed a lovely Syrah from McLaren Vale and a Pinot Noir from Tasmania (yes, we love our reds). For dessert we enjoyed a Pavlova and also tried a chocolate mouse. Both of which we would have again and again, if space allowed!

The restaurant is not exclusive to hotel guests which makes it a great addition to the competition in the area. The restaurant stands strong on its own and will undoubtedly be a recipient of many awards. The chef has been previously working in the successful Flying Fish in the city and the regular staff have mostly come from prior experience in high class restaurants. For those living west of the CBD we couldn’t emphasise how important it is to see how Parramatta has evolved and this restaurant is exactly why.

After dinner the trip to the room is a handy benefit, with parking onsite included we’ll have a simple drive home in the morning. Breakfast is also served back in Husk & Vine, no buffet to be found which is actually a pleasant surprise. Instead you’ll be able to order a fancy smashed avocado, or french toast or even some eggs benedict. The dining experience doesn’t waiver from the prior nights dinner.

The Skye Hotel Suites in Parramatta is a lovely change for the area, one that has been sorely missing. For an area to grow, it needs excuses. An excuse of first class accomodation and a high quality restaurant start to twist the arm of modern society to believe in the change that is coming. We have no doubt that Parramatta will grow to be the next big city, we finally have evidence of that.