Lilianfels, in the Blue Mountains, was once the place to stay when you were wandering up the hill from Sydney for the weekend.
The estate, just up the hill from the iconic Three Sisters, was once one of the most luxurious hotels in the region, run by Orient Express Hotels, who sold it in 2009.
Growing up I remember my parents whipping up there for a night (which cost them a small fortune) and raving about it to their friends.
It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to experience and last month I managed to make it happen.
Driving up on a Saturday, we arrived right on check-in. There was a line of cars and people doing the same.
The estate is a long skinny block with a driveway running straight through the middle. It wasn’t the secluded Blue Mountains escape I had pictured.
The concierge processed our booking and told us our room was on the same floor and to the right.
Through the winding corridor we trekked. It felt like we were heading towards a service entry. Our room was tucked away at the back and looked out over the driveway.
Dinner at Darley’s restaurant at the hotel on a Saturday night is $125 per person, mimimum (two courses, other nights, is $95). Sides are $12 extra. We went out to dinner at a nearby Lebanese, Zest, instead.
I expected a big buffet of beautiful fresh food for breakfast the next morning, but it was more canned fruit and soggy bacon. My $5 coffee was cold.
We went out to breakfast after breakfast.
Our bill for one night was $505.
Here’s the run down.
Room number 8 was assigned to us. Walking down the dark corridor the carpet is cushiony and the walls were lined with framed prints of plants and birds.
Opening the door, it felt like we'd stepped back in time. The decor was old world. Think drapes, wallpaper, solid dark furniture and wing backed chairs.
They went a little bit overboard with the matching patterns. Even the tissue box matched the wall paper which matched the curtains.
The bathroom was a little tired. The hot tap fell off the wall when I was using it. But the black marble floor was very luxurious as were the Appelles products.
The room was a bit stuffy and not somewhere we really wanted to spend time so we decided to hit the private pool.
I had the salt and pepper squid. It was soggy and cold when it arrived almost an hour after we ordered. But for an extra $10 it was delivered by a man in a suit carrying a fancy tray and I didn't have to get up.
I managed to pry myself from the sun lounge to explore the grounds which are filled with big tall pine trees and vintage roses.
We also had a spot of tennis on the full size court. The resort gave us a new set of balls and two decent rackets. But there was a big hot, loud vent right beside the court which smokey warm air pours out of - It wasn't very pleasant.
Breakfast was included in our package. There was a buffet which I was really excited for. Unfortunately it wasn't that special. The juice wasn't fresh, the bacon was chewy and cold and proper coffee wasn't included! We had to pay extra for that...
Details – Address: 5-19 Lilianfels Avenue Katoomba, NSW 2780 Australia. Telephone: +612 4780 1200 Website: lilianfels.com.au
Cost – From $183 a night.
Food – Nothing surprising. Lunch was reasonably priced.
Accommodation – The decor is over the top but it was clean and in keeping with the theme of the resort.
Activities – Lilianfels is up the road from the Blue Mountains National Park so there are plenty of bush walks to go on. On the grounds there are indoor and outdoor pools, tennis court, a gym and spa.
Experience – The grounds are stunning but it didn’t feel like a resort you wanted to retreat to and never leave.
Was it a nice experience? Yes.
Should you try it once? Sure but don’t take out a second mortgage to do it.
Would I go again? Probably not. There are so many spectacular places to stay in the Blue Mountains now which are more private and have spaces which are both private and luxurious.
*The writer paid for her own accommodation.*
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