The Hydro Majestic Hotel is one of those places where I have always thought “one day I will check in and enjoy a little luxury”. Today wasn’t that day.
Part of me is reluctant to book in in case it doesn’t live up to my very high expectations and part of me simply doesn’t want to fork over the cash. However, it doesn’t cost anything to look.
Join me for a slow (and free) stroll around the Hydro Majestic Hotel in the NSW Blue Mountains.
The Hydro Majestic opened its doors in 1904 as Australia’s first dedicated health spa or hydropathic establishment. Originally designed to attract the ailing and stressed city folk from Sydney to take the mountain air, the business only really flourished when it added alcohol to the menu and allowed guests to stay up later than 10pm. Yes, it became Party Central in the Blue Mountains and the destination for celebrations and romantic assignations. If only those walls could talk.
Over the years, the Hotel has had a number of owners and various lives including as a rehabilitation hospital for injured American WWII soldiers. After years of neglect and busy vandals, the hotel fell into disrepair before being rescued by The Escarpment Group in 2008 and carefully restored to its former glory, but with a whole range of modern enhancements.
The Hotel is decorated in a highly colourful and elegant Art Deco style. I love the vibrant colours used in many sections of the building and the flowing scrolls and curlicues of the timberwork. As the Hydro stretches 1.1km along the ridgeline, that is a whole lotta style.
What is There to See/Do?
- Views: The Hotel is perched on a ridge top with panoramic views over the Megalong and Kanimbla Valleys. The main dining areas make the most of those views with huge plate glass windows. Just perfect for enjoying the Great Outdoors without having to actually be out in it.
- Tours: Guided tours of this historic hotel operate twice a day and cost $10.00pp. I wish I had timed my visit better as I would have loved to learn more about this wonderful old building.
Eat and Drink: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating and drinking at the Hydro.
- Wintergarden Restaurant: Decorated in vibrant golden yellows, enjoy high tea or dinner in this expansive restaurant with equally expansive views. It’s not cheap though with set, two-course menus starting from $89.00 and a simple High Tea starts from $60.00 per person. No doubt the picturesque views make the price tag worthwhile.
- Belgravia Wing: This is the most recent accommodation addition to the Hotel after the original wing burnt down in 1922. Finally re-opening in 1936, the new design was criticised as being ‘far too modern’ and clashing with the overall look of the rest of the Hotel. As I strolled through the main reception area of this wing, a breakfast buffet was in full swing with many happy and replete guests dining in style.
- Salon du Thé and the Cat’s Alley: I did not get the impression that this section was actually open for tea or anything else really and I had the whole area to myself. It would be a lovely place to sit awhile and just absorb the atmosphere.
- The Pavilion: This modern building at the far eastern end of the Hotel is its retail cum café arm. While both the coffee (very good) and food (OK) are on the expensive side, it is worth visiting to see all the original hotel memorabilia and audio-visual presentations. You can buy all sorts of souvenirs here too, including books covering the history of the Hotel.
- The Boiler House Restaurant: The fully-refurbished Boiler House is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday. I didn’t get to sticky beak inside this one.
- My imagination runs riot in these old buildings. The walls seem to speak to me of past luxuries and an element of decadence. What a treat it would have been to arrive by steam train or Model T Ford and be enveloped in the most modern luxuries of the day?
- The Pavilion is worth a visit to see all the old photographs including women in long dresses and men in three-piece suits setting out for a bushwalk. Or flappers in twin sets and pearls about to serve an ace on the grass tennis courts. Needless to say, there are also plenty of photos showing various dinners, fiestas and parties with everyone decked out in their best hats and gloves.
- In another life, and if money was no object, I would have loved to buy, restore and run a hotel like this. I have no delusions about what that would cost (the heating and cooling costs alone would be nightmarish), but there would be joy and satisfaction knowing that you were preserving a piece of history and celebrating a time of class and elegance. Yes, I will keep dreaming…
Am I the only one? Or do you have dream destinations/hotels etc that set your imagination on fire?
What: Rooms start from $339.00 per night for a courtyard view (read = street/road view) room midweek and $499.00 per night on the weekend. Ouch.
Where: 52-88 Great Western Highway, Medlow Bath, NSW 2780. Medlow Bath is approximately 125km West of Sydney, NSW.
When: For a more relaxed experience, try to visit the Blue Mountains mid-week. Even after all these years, this area is still a favourite weekend escape for city folk.
Why: For history, fresh mountain air, relaxation, wining and dining, and a whole range of beautiful bushwalks if you have the time and energy.
How: If you are traveling by car, the Hotel is located right next to the main road crossing the Blue Mountains – the Great Western Highway (highway is a very generous description). There is plenty of parking – both on and off street – although even this is at a premium during peak periods such as weekends. If you prefer train travel, the station is located directly opposite the Hotel. Too easy.
Who: It’s an old cliché, but the Hydro Majestic has something for everyone. I suspect that this place will appeal to adults more than children, but there are some grassed areas for kids to run. Other than that, there is little to amuse children.
Related Posts: For a hotel with an equally rich and colourful history, how about a visit to the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill? Check it out here.
Related Blogs: For a more hands-on experience, check out what The Where To think of their stay at the Hydro.
Read About It: If you feel like a bit of escapism, grab a copy of Palace of Tears by Julian Leatherdale. Apparently, he set the book in the Hydro Majestic and includes some of the original owner’s history and stories. Go straight to Book Depository.
#hydromajestic #travelinspo #artdeco #livingthehighlife #medlowbath #dayout #bluemountains #healthretreat #wheretostayinthebluemountains #hightea #salonduthe