Lilianfels Resort and Spa

Katoomba, Blue Mountains, Australia Book from AU$224

Classic heritage-style retreat for lovers of fine dining and relaxation, set in the World Heritage Listed Blue Mountains 90 minutes west of Sydney
Old world chic perched on the edge of the National Park, Lilianfels combines traditional accommodation with a relaxed atmosphere that spells 'leave your worries at the door'. Lilianfels started as the Victorian home of then Chief Justice of New South Wales, Sir Frederick Darley, and continues its grand country house tradition today as a Luxury Collection Resort. It's all picnics on clifftops and high tea at three for cashed up weekenders escaping urban Sydney, and international guests doing their Australian 'tour'.

Enter via a gravelled driveway past the swanky pool begging for a cocktail. There's a Great Gatsby feel to the open plan salon with grand piano, fireplaces, French doors, terrace and Victorian couches to lose yourself in. A distinctly retro indoor swimming pool with traditional wide striped towels and glass conservatory, plus a full-sized billiard table and a tennis court, complete the historical picture. But don't overlook the award-winning cuisine at Darley’s restaurant, nor the seriously seductive spa tucked away in the basement of pampering.

Highs

  • Vast bathrooms with deep vanity sinks in every gracious bedroom
  • Service, service, service - friendly, impeccable and discreet
  • Two acres of landscaped gardens
  • Proximity to the Three Sisters rock formations and a plethora of bush walking tracks
  • Darley’s restaurant has won a "chef's hat" - Sydney's equivalent of a Michelin star - 2 years running
  • The four handed poultice massage treatment in the spa
  • Spa and gourmet packages from one to seven nights

Lows

  • Lavish is never cheap
  • You will need to make dinner and spa reservations well in advance
  • The very old-fashioned country house décor is not for everybody
  • The road that divides the national park from the resort prevents it from being absolute clifftop, you have to walk to the public viewpoint to see the view
  • Daytrippers break the spell when showing up for high tea and a look-see
  • It's larger and better known than most of the hidden gems selected by i-escape, but it's quite simply the best hotel in the Blue Mountains, and you can't argue with that

Best time to go

The Blue Mountains are cooler and wetter than Sydney - typically 5-10 celsius in winter (June-August) and around 20 celsius in summer (December-February). Winter is actually the most popular time, for cosy fireside escapes with the (small) chance of snow - there might be 4 or 5 snowfalls per year, and predominantly on the mountaintops around 1000 metres. In summer it is a welcome relief from Sydney's sticky heat, and poolside loungers are in high demand. Spring and autumn can have wonderful clear days which suit outdoor pursuits; September is excellent for wild flowers.

Our top tips

Pack sunscreen and insect repellent, and walking shoes are a must. It’s sacrilege not to take the walk down to the valley floor - but be warned the walk back up is a killer.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 85
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

All rooms are decked out in elegant Victorian style (think canopied beds and pretty florals), combined with five-star comforts like crisp sheets, feather down duvets, thick fluffy towels and wonderfully spacious marble bathrooms. They're arranged across the ground floor and over the top two floors - all have been recently refurbished.

Most Deluxe Rooms overlook the English style gardens. These have rich, sumptuous fabrics and wall coverings. The marble ensuite bathrooms have deep bathtubs.

Return guests usually request the more expensive Deluxe King Valley View Rooms for the breath-taking vistas across Jamison Valley. These are individually decorated with marble bathrooms and plush towelling bathrobes.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Iron
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv

Eating

Lilianfels is known for the fine cuisine at upscale Darley’s Restaurant with Sydneysiders regularly making the 1½ hour trek for Sunday lunch. Overnight guests can take their time over a degustation dinner or go a la carte in the original homestead of Sir Frederick Darley, that now overlooks the rose garden and outdoor swimming pool.

The cuisine - modern Australian with a French influence - is in the award-winning hands of executive chef Hugh Whitehouse, who earned a "chef's hat" in the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide two years in a row (2006 and 2007), and for five consecutive years before that at his restaurant Milsons in Sydney’s Kirribilli. The seasonal menu offers a variety of choices, but may include delights such as premium rock oysters with champagne vinegar sorbet, followed by mandagery creek venison - rare roasted, celeriac cream, salsify, horseradish jus.

It’s all very olde worlde with stained glass, open fires and superb balcony views over the Blue Mountains. Ingredients are organic where possible and dishes are traditionally slow cooked. Fresh seafood and Australian beef and lamb feature on the menu, with locally produced cheeses and an impressive international wine list. Book at least a week ahead.

More casual dining is available at Tre Sorelle (Three Sisters in Italian after the neighbouring rock formations, but soon to be relaunched as The Grill), where the surroundings are Italian bistro in style: ceramic floor tiles, textured wooden chairs and colourful red and blue clothed table tops. Think gnocchi, think olive oil, think fresh herbs and hearty country comfort food.

The lounge area offers high tea daily; there's also a mahogany bar serving cocktails and other alcoholic drinks. House guests have access to 24-hour room service.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the wonderful Blue Mountains - named for the blue haze caused by the fine droplets of oil which rise from the eucalyptus covering the area. This is real Jurassic Park landscape, older then the Grand Canyon, and criss-crossed by bush-walking and mountain-biking trails (there are complimentary bikes at the hotel). Don't miss the Katoomba Falls, the sandstone crevice of Devils Hole, and the endless vistas of the Jamison Valley

  • Gawp at the spectacular Three Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, a short walk away. Abseiling and rock climbing can be arranged locally; the amazing limestone formations of the Jenolan Caves are an hour’s drive away

  • The World Heritage Listed bushland boasts excellent birdlife; the hotel can arrange guided walks

  • Golf - there are four 18-hole courses in the area

  • The nearby Scenic World has 4 fun rides for the family: the 'cableway' (an aerial gondola above the jungle), a railway (the steepest incline in the world) which takes you down to a lush valley, a wooden walkway which links the two, passing through ancient rainforest, and a new glass-floored 'Skyway' which soars 250m above ravines and waterfalls

  • If that's too tame, try a 4WD safari, or take a back seat on a Harley Davidson mountain cruise

  • Give your body a break at the highly-rated spa, with its indoor pool and 4 treatment rooms; there are all-day pampering packages, super stress-buster massages, four-handed poultice massages, even mens' grooming treatments - but do book at least a week before arrival

  • There are several local art galleries nearby

  • Keep fit in the health club, play tennis on the hotel's court set in the pine forest, relax by the outdoor pool, or book a yoga lesson

  • If you're interested in themed team building events, there are opportunities for abseiling, rock climbing, horse riding, golf and canyoning

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Tennis
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, though it's really more suited for older, well-behaved kids. Besides the hotel pool and billiard table, they will love the mountains and their family-orientated attractions (including Scenic World).

Family friendly accommodation:

There are no family rooms as such, but families of 4 can request two interconnecting Deluxe rooms (one double and one twin).

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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