Discover Lilianfels: A Luxurious Blue Mountains Retreat for Seniors

by LukeAdmin

Words by Dorian Mode Photography by Lydia Thorpe Historical Photos Lilianfels

Yesterday we walked to “Look out Point” near which Sir Frederick Darley has built his Norwegian like villa Lilianfels. This is perhaps, one of the most beautiful mountain homes in the world, certainly the most beautiful in Australia. A magnificent view of bold mountain scenery is obtained from the verandah, which closely resembles that of Norway. The mountains are thickly wooded to their summits, and the great valleys which separate them look like immense undulating carpets worked in many shades of green. The roar of the Katoomba Falls is distinctly heard. – Sydney Social columnist 1894

Last week, a familiar figure from my past, an industry insider with a deep love for travel, made an appearance on ABC. He shared a revelation that the Blue Mountains is more than just a quick visit to the Three Sisters or a stay at Lilianfels. And, quite rightly, he’s spot on. There’s a treasure trove of experiences awaiting you. Yet, there’s something irresistible about Lilianfels. It’s as though, by some enchantment, Lilianfels encapsulates all your Blue Mountains dreams in one place.

First a pocket history. Sir Frederick Darley, Chief Justice of New South Wales, oversaw the construction of a homestead in 1889, christening it “Lilianfels” in honour of his daughter, Lilian, who tragically succumbed to typhoid at the age of 22. This grand estate passed into the hands of the Vickery family, notable industrialists, farmers, merchants, and philanthropists. Today, Lilianfels has been transformed, serving as the site for ‘Darley’s’ restaurant, while the hotel opened 85 guest rooms in 1992.

As you make your way up Lilianfels’ pristine white gravel driveway, your gaze is immediately drawn to the meticulously manicured gardens. The reception area, adorned with cascades of lavender wisteria, exudes an air of grandeur and hospitality. However, the fragrance that envelops Lilianfels is nothing short of pure luxury. It’s a scent that lingers in the senses, a fragrant ode to opulence.

Upon stepping into our room at Lilianfels, I’m struck by the meticulous attention to detail that characterises this place. It’s the little touches that make all the difference. The vintage counterpane, harmoniously matched with the curtains that gracefully drape the brass bed, creates a sense of timeless charm. There’s even the delicate rose seal gracing the bog roll! It’s these subtle nuances that speak volumes, especially to the discerning eye. And it’s these nuances that elevate Lilianfels to its well–deserved status as the epitome of posh romantic retreats in the enchanting Blue Mountains.

Savouring a jolly decent brew in the lounge downstairs is delightful. The ambiance is a fusion of two distinct worlds—a touch of old–world English club charm intertwined with the cosy, inviting atmosphere of a Laura Ashley–inspired living room. Soft furnishings envelop you as you sink into leather club lounges, creating a unique blend of comfort and sophistication that makes for a memorable and relaxed coffee break.

Location Location Location. An allure of Lilianfels lies in its prime location, as foreshadowed in the words of the 19th–century social columnist I quoted who once graced the grand house. Nestled smack bang at Echo Point, you find yourself at the iconic lookout in a mere matter of seconds. And, in this breathtaking spot, Mother Nature scores a goal. The panoramic vista is nothing short of awe–inspiring. Amidst this scenic wonder, our gaze falls upon a solitary artist, perched with an easel and paint, fervently crafting a mediocre watercolour – is it the Three Sisters or Uluru?

Later, we tackle the uphill trek to town by bus to a local eatery, and the journey back becomes a pleasant downhill saunter, leading us on a winding path of discovery. Back at our digs, with the allure of two inviting pools, one indoors and the other under the open sky, we meander from the bar in thick terry–towelling dressing gowns, G&Ts in hand, to surrender ourselves to the warm embrace of the water indoors. We float lazily on pool noodles, talking nonsense, basking in tranquil luxury until at 9pm we’re gently ushered away by the ever–friendly concierge–cum–pool attendant, folding striped towels in this chlorine–scented glasshouse.

The next morning unveils a breakfast experience that surpasses most (I’ve reviewed a lot of hotels over the years). The secret? The staff–to–customer ratios are nothing short of astonishing. It’s as if they have an uncanny ability to anticipate your every move – no sooner do you finish a plate, and it’s spirited away. Dirty egg plates accumulating on tables during breakfast? Not here. They’ve got that covered.

And let’s not forget the coffee etiquette. As you walk in, they ask for your coffee preference. Really, has anyone ever said, “I’ll take a cup of bogan dust from the coffee machine, please”? Plus, no need to worry about any hidden costs; your morning brew is included in the breakfast package. No upselling here. It’s little touches like these that make this breakfast a home run.

After savouring eggs cooked to perfection according to my exact specifications (Psst! Don’t forget with hotels you can order your eggs from the kitchen), we drive to Govett’s Leap in Blackheath, a place steeped in history and yet strangely uncharted in our past explorations. Named after colonial surveyor William Romaine Govett, the name of the location is derived from the fact that he made a significant and daring traverse near the cliff during his surveying expedition in 1831.

We then drive to Leura’s Gordon Falls, offering a teasing view of the Jamison Valley and an interesting side–eye to the Three Sisters. And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk is the Blue Mountains’ version of a Tinder date, swiping left or right, offering scenic surprises at every turn.

We then scoot over to Wentworth Falls – the superstar of the show. Named after William Charles Wentworth, one of the explorers who conquered the Blue Mountains (Aboriginal folk notwithstanding!) back in 1813, these falls are a bit like a grand finale. They have all the grace and drama of an opera diva, embraced by the lush Australian bush.

At Wentworth Falls, the options are as diverse as the landscape itself. You can savour the breathtaking vistas from the lookout, or if you’re feeling adventurous, make your way down the track to get up close and personal with the falls. And for those who prefer a different kind of workout, there’s always the option to break a sweat by lifting a G&T at the lap of luxury that is Lilianfels. After all, there are many paths to bliss, and for me, they are paved with juniper and Fever–Tree tonic.

That evening, with Darley’s (Lilianfels’ five–star restaurant) closed on Monday night, we slum it at Echoes, its neighbour. Here, we were treated to what I can only describe as the widest view of the Jameson Valley you’ll ever get from a dining table. The view needs its own seat. Echoes not only astounds with its meals but serves also as a reminder that when Darley’s closes, Echoes opens its panorama – because life in the Blue Mountains is all about balance.

Inside this charming establishment, a grand piano graces the room, and I can’t resist the temptation to play a tune. I lean in and confide in the bartender, “I think this is middle C, right?” to which he nods in silent horror, his eyes darting toward the impeccably dressed patrons. As my fingers dance across the keys, I dive into the timeless melodies of Rodgers and Hart, followed by some Gershwin and a dash of Cole Porter. I notice the bartender’s shoulders relax, a hint of a smile playing at the corners of his lips.

After the final notes fade into the ambiance of the room, he kindly extends an offer for me to stay and play. But alas, I have a cocktail and a five–star dinner to enjoy!

In closing, Lilianfels may embody the quintessential Blue Mountains experience, but it does so with a finesse that’s hard to match. It’s like taking all your desires for a Blue Mountains getaway, shaking them up with ice, and pouring out a glass of pure, majestic escape. For me, Lilianfels is a classic for all the right reasons.

: Two Swimming Pools, Billiards Room, Tennis Court
Accommodation Options: Deluxe Resort rooms start from $399 room only or $469 inc breakfast for two Ground floor rooms available upon request for seniors with mobility issues
Pet–Friendly: The location is now dog–friendly, ensuring that your four–legged companion can join in on the fun too. Call the hotel for details.

Three Sisters Lookout
: Offers a stunning view of the iconic Three Sisters. Named after an Aboriginal legend, the Three Sisters are a symbol of the Blue Mountains.
Gordon Falls Lookout: Located near Leura, it provides a picturesque view of the Jamison Valley. Named after colonial surveyor William Romaine Govett.
Wentworth Falls Lookout: Named after William Charles Wentworth, one of the explorers who crossed the Blue Mountains in 1813. Offers panoramic views of Wentworth Falls, lush rainforest, and the Wentworth Falls Track.
Govetts Leap Lookout: Named after surveyor William Romaine Govett, who ventured into the Blue Mountains in 1831. It provides an exquisite view of the Grose Valley, surrounded by sandstone cliffs.
Lincoln’s Rock: Offers a unique, less–crowded viewpoint with breathtaking vistas of the Jamison Valley. Named after American President Abraham Lincoln due to its resemblance to his profile when viewed from a certain angle – esp after a few G&Ts.

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