A glass of red wine, a comfortable armchair, a pianist singing lightly in the background and a staff that makes you feel like you’re a most welcome guest at a country house weekend. If this is your idea of a relaxing weekend, then you need to get in the car or on the train and head for the Blue Mountains…
This audio feature was made after a weekend at the Blue Mountains at Lilianfels in Katoomba, a hotel that truly makes its guests feel as if they’re part of a English country house weekend.
In terms of mood it reminded me of a trip I took to Blenheim Palace in 1992, boring my friends with the constant lament: “Why isn’t all this mine?”
Within minutes of stepping through the doors of Lilianfels, I was wondering how I could arrange to live there.
I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels but this is the one that has so far come closest to my ideal: relaxed, comfortable, utterly uncorporate and dripping in old world elegance.
It’s a hard balance to strike. I expect there are bed and breakfasts that come close but I don’t like B&Bs — I can never shake the fact that I’m staying in someone’s house and they’re going to be cleaning the sheets, the bathroom and judging me.
Lilianfels manages to combine the remove of a hotel with hospitality that makes you feel they know who you are. It comes from the top of course and it was easy to see that as Brian McHenry, the general maanger of Lilianfels, worked the cocktail party he holds for guests on a Friday evening.
In our case Brian really did know who we were because we were interviewing him for the feature, which is how we ended up in his Volvo heading down Katoomba Street towards the shops. We’d not realised we’d chosen the weekend of the Winter Magic Festival.
I was just asking Brian whether many people came up for it when we came in sight of the blocked off street and a river of about three thousand heads blocking Katoomba Street waiting for the parade.
The parade isn’t mentioned in the feature but it will be in the book of weekends away that we’re preparing to launch some time this year. As you can see from the pictures, it really is quite a magical affair; a complete celebration of the joy of the Blue Mountains.
This feature was made for the inflight entertainment of V Australia.