Curling up by the fireplace with a blanket and a good book has to be one of life’s great simple pleasures. Now, all you need to do is find a fireplace.
Luckily, the Blue Mountains has an abundance of them.
The mountains you say? Yes, winter is here. It arrived with a vengeance. But now you have your coats, gloves, scarves and beanies out, it’s time to really embrace the cold weather. Rug up and head to the mountains for a weekend where the weather is just the icing on the cake.
Where to stay:
The Blue Mountains has character in spades, especially when it comes to hotels, B&Bs and lodges. Whether you want to stay in grand opulence or snuggle up surrounded by twee country charm, there’s plenty to choose from.
Spicers Sangoma has been on the lips of the who’s who list and off the radar for most. It’s the perfect hideaway boasting private wooden decks, 36 degree plunge pools and chandelier illuminated Philippe Stark baths.
The Parklands Country Gardens and Lodge should be your first stop if you want to sit by the fireplace with a bottle of wine. Tucked into the leafy suburb of Blackheath, the lodge’s grand driveway leads down to a manor house and self contained villas.
Make a beeline for the lodge spa, where treatment rooms have deep bath tubs and big windows looking straight out over the manicured lawns. Keep the curtains open during your afternoon massage so you can look out and watch dusk fall. The lodge’s mountain chic interiors will have you wanting to overhaul your own living room, install wingback arm chairs, a big fireplace and antler chandeliers. The large bedroom suites have long window seats, their own electric fireplaces, big beautiful beds and the same muted grey colour palettes. This is the home away from home you won’t ever want to leave.
Don’t go past the fluffy stack of pancakes served in the lodge breakfast room, which is also achingly well-decorated. Tables by the arched windows are hot property – watch the ducks go for a morning swim while you sip freshly brewed tea.
Parklands Country Gardens & Lodges, 132 Govetts Leap Rd, Blackheath www.parklands.com.au
If you’re keen to stay right in the centre of Katoomba, The Carrington Hotel is a good option that almost overdoses on old world glamour. The grand old dame dates back to 1880 and looks down on the town from the top of her hill. She’s filled with gilded ceilings, chandeliers, chesterfields, sculptures and heavily patterned carpets. Find time to duck around the back of the building, to the well-stocked Carrington Cellars and Deli. The space will also soon be home to the Katoomba Brewing Company.
The Carrington Hotel, 15-47 Katoomba St, Katoomba www.thecarrington.com.au
Where to eat:
You’ve probably seen the Three Sisters before (perhaps on a school trip) but a trip to Katoomba isn’t complete without at least sighting this landmark. At the same time, there’s a new reason to head over to their popular viewing spot at Echo Point. The team behind the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Bar and Dining Centennial Parklands and Queens Park Shed among others, are familiar with running restaurants in iconic locations. Located inside The Three Sisters Heritage Plaza at Echo Point.
The Lookout, Echo Point, 33 – 37 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba www.thelookoutechopoint.com.au
Up the road on Katoomba’s main street is a café that’s a sight to see in its own right. Stepping inside the Yellow Deli is like stepping inside a hollowed out tree or a fairy den. The small café is owned by members of the Twelve Tribes and they’ve created a little wooden escape from the world – from the ceiling beams and booths to the stairwell and seats, almost everything is carved out of wood. Order a cranberry cashew salad and a dandelion latte and get cosy.
The Yellow Deli, 214 Katoomba St, Katoomba yellowdeli.com/katoomba
There’s something about the mountains that brings out a little bit of magic and mystery. The Hydro Majestic Hotel, which had its grand reopening following a 30 million dollar restoration last year, is now offering Mystic High Teas. Yes, that’s right, you get to indulge in a decadent traditional high tea in the Wintergarden, before heading into the hotel’s Cat’s Alley for a tea leaf reading. If you’re not keen to hear what your future holds, the Wintergarden is a stunning setting, with windows looking straight over the Megalong Valley below. Macarons, tartlets, sandwiches and of course scones, with a steaming blossom tea, are just what you need on a crisp mountain afternoon.
The Hydro Majestic, 5288 Great Western Highway, Medlow Bath www.hydromajestic.com.au
And for dinner, splurge on a fireside table at Darley’s Restaurant. Eating at the award winning restaurant at luxury hotel Lilianfels is very Downton Abbey-esque, with gilded wallpaper, chandeliers and plenty of silver service.
Darley’s Restaurant, 5-19 Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba www.darleysrestaurant.com.au
What to do:
If you’re keen to go antiquing, head back over to Katoomba. Start at the Katoomba Vintage Emporium, and once you emerge from this enormous Aladdin’s Cave, wander down Katoomba Street into the little bookstores and knickknack shops.
Next, make a beeline for Leura Mall. Leura’s pretty shopping strip is where you’ll find charming homeware stores like The French Shoppe selling everything from Palm Beach candles to Bison ceramics. Josophan’s Chocolate shop should be your next stop, where you can stock up on truffles and hot chocolate mix. For an immediate hot chocolate fix, head over to where Josophan’s owner Jodie Van Der Velden has set up her Café Madeleine. A brownie and a hot chocolate will keep you going.
Cafe Madeleine, 187a Leura Mall, Leura
Stop by iKOU to stock up on organic skincare products – this local brand is used in luxury day spas around the world, including the Park Hyatt Sydney. iKOU, 175 Leura Mall, Leura
Fresh mountain air does marvels for the skin so put on your hiking shoes and head out into the great outdoors. You don’t need to get too adventurous, with plenty of short walking trails dotted around the region. If your car can handle a dirt track, head out to Pulpit Rock Lookout – this dramatic lookout perches on rock platforms and is a short drive from Blackheath.
Lisa was the guest of Destination NSW