Steeped in history, the Hydro Majestic has moved through the ages. It has played host to glamorous parties counting the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Australia’s first Prime Minister among its clientele. The Hotel came roaring back from the ashes after a brutal fire in 1921, and later served as a hospital for American soldiers in WW11.
Built by retailing magnate Mark Foy and opened for the first time in the winter of 1904, The Hydro Majestic was intended as a ‘lavish Hydropathic establishment for the globally wealthy and influential of the period’.
His goal was to bring a hydropathic establishment, an indulgence he greatly enjoyed while travelling on business throughout Europe, to Australia. Guests could choose from an assortment of ‘interesting’ treatments as prescribed by the house Doctor: Who’s up for a bowel kneading or an ear douche? Mr. Foy decided on the Blue Mountains for his establishment, mere hours from Sydney, as it was known amongst the alternative medicine crowd of the time to have some of the ‘purest air in the world’.
Today, the Hydro Majestic stands tall and, yes, majestically (please forgive me, my daughter is going through a pun phase), after a multi-million dollar renovation that has restored one of Australia’s most iconic hotels to its former glory. While still wonderfully decadent, the family-friendly environment that was incorporated after the fire in 1921 remains.
It’s easy to lose yourself at the Hydro Majestic. In the Wintergarden room, rich furnishings and a grand décor compliment the floor to ceiling windows. Natural light floods in, and the views overlooking the Megalong Valley are nothing short of spectacular. Seated by the window, we sunk into the comfortable wing-backed chairs, mesmerized by the clouds which were ever -changing before us.
Throughout the afternoon, we sipped our way through pots of brewed tea, while relishing the delightful dishes on our high tea stands.
The Wintergarden High Tea offers a traditional selection finger sandwiches and petit fours. The scones with homemade jam were delightful. Almost as good as my grandmothers.
The Eastern High Tea, something I’d never tried before, surprised me. I liked it so much more than the traditional offering. The Eastern High Tea consisted of some marvelous steamed dumplings, an assortment of savory petit fours, and, of course, the usual sweet offerings. What surprised me most was the macaron. Since macaron’s are not a particular favorite of mine, I found them absolutely delicious, my favourite from the entire stand.
Throughout our visit, the service was impeccable. Our server, Ben, seemed to know what we wanted before we did. We did not lack for anything. When we got lost in conversation, the now cool scones were replaced with warm ones. I’m not sure if this is part of normal service or because we were guests of the hotel, but this level of service was extraordinary, exemplifying our overall experience.
When renovating the Hydro Majestic, every relic they found was captured and preserved. The things that could not be reutilized were placed on display in the Hydro Majestic Pavilion. The Pavilion is well presented, with the history of the Hydro Majestic showcased proudly.
After years of seeing the Hydro Majestic as a derelict eyesore, it’s so wonderful to see what the Escarpment Group have done with the renovation. Attention to detail is evident. From the unobstructed views overlooking the Megalong Valley to the attentive service during our Afternoon High Tea experience, we had a magical experience.
Definitely take the time to enjoy this spot in Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains. It’s an escape to remember and an opportunity to go back in time (but not lacking in comforts or modern conveniences!) and relive days gone by.