The Bank Hotel

The long wait is finally over. For more than a year the Bank Hotel's heritage facade was covered by scaffolding and temporary hoardings for an almost $5 million overhaul.

Locals were down to only two drinking holes in the grubby golden triangle of pubs surrounding Newtown station, and the Bank's much-loved and rambling Sumalee Thai restaurant in the rear garden was temporarily closed.

More importantly for some, the Bank's unofficial weekly ladies' night was absent. Although few can remember when it started, for years any woman who likes the company of other women knew the Bank on Wednesday was the place to go.

Barely a week after the reopening, the Wednesday night crowd is back in droves. The restaurant is yet to reopen, as are two other bar areas out the back, but the flashly renovated ground-floor bar and Velvet Room on level one are heaving with happy punters.

Upstairs amid a sea of sveltely contoured velvet and padded leather couches and chairs, eyes flash across the room at new arrivals. The queue is three-deep at the bar; the mood and view recall a music festival crowd milling through a swanky city mansion.