Step back in time in the Blue Mountains at this regal hotel

The Carrington Hotel, the grand old lady of hospitality, turns 140 years old, cementing its title as the only 19th Century luxurious resort hotel still in New South Wales.

The Three Sisters may date back 200 million years, but about two and a half kilometres up the hill from the famous rock formation is a much younger Blue Mountains attraction deserving equal special attention this year. 

Sitting in prime position on a rise overlooking what was once the mining town of Katoomba, this holiday retreat – initially known as the Great Western Hotel – opened its doors for the first time on 15 August 1883. On that day, most guests were dressed to the nines, arriving by rail from Sydney to make the short walk from the station. 

This holiday retreat was initially known as the Great Western Hotel

Echo Point to view the Three Sisters

For sightseeing, the clip-clop of horse’s hooves could be heard along the escarpment as the visitors made their way down the dusty trail leading to Echo Point to view the Three Sisters, the region’s most photographed piece of landscape, and the Jamison Valley renowned for its blue tinge. Katoomba, and much of the Blue Mountains and its sprinkling of villages and towns, has come of age since those early tourism days.

The Carrington Hotel and its historic charm continue to be a magnet, not only for guests from Sydney and interstate but from overseas, judging by the different accents overheard in the hotel foyer, the bar, and the dining areas. And most arrive today by car, Sydney, a mere 90-minute drive away to the east.

From the moment guests take their initial steps up the curved-shaped stairs to The Carrington Hotel reception, they have a sense of stepping back in time, with a few mod cons to remind them they are holidaying in the 21st Century.

Stepping back in time at The Carrington Hotel

A four-storey architectural marvel

With Numerous additions and upgrades over the decades, the facade of the hotel remains richly decorated. Its undulating Italianate balcony set on columns over a paved piazza. A wall of stained glass – an excellent example of Art Nouveau glazing – encases the former veranda.

Inside, guests can’t help but marvel over the impressive, carpeted staircases with their polished timber railings. The appealing bar – affectionately branded Champagne Charlie’s Cocktail Bar – and the stained-glass dome, another example of Art Nouveau glazing. All was designed for a royal visit, which adds light to the bar area leading to the Grand Dining Room.

Excellent examples of Art Nouveau glazing are evrywhere

Each morning guests converge in the dining room for breakfast

From Wednesday to Sunday, the space opens its doors for lunch and dinner. With the courses not only enticing for their taste but generous in size. The same can be said about the sizes of the meals served at lunch at the bar. My suggestion: the ploughman’s lunch. Best eaten in the adjoining lounge with its inviting open fireplace. 

Adjoining the hotel at the rear is the old power station building with its familiar chimney. This was a source of electricity for the hotel and for much of the Blue Mountains in the early 1900s. Today, the building serves as a cellar door, delicatessen and micro-brewery, Katoomba Brewing.

Despite retaining much of its original fabric, where it hosted royalty, The Carrington Hotel has moved with the times. It’s reflected in the amenities, the upgraded bathrooms, and various other mod cons such as TVs and the internet.

The hotel boasts 65 guest rooms and suites, all configured similarly. At the top end are three suites – The Joynton Smith, The Tomah and Lord Carrington. All boast distinctive characteristics, comfortable lounges, and access to the main balcony to view the scarred distant cliffs.

The hotel boasts 65 guest rooms and suites

Home-away-from-home to explore the Blue Mountains

The marked walking trails that cut through the national park. With the cafes and art galleries, novelty stores and the wonders of Scenic World with its world’s steepest railway and rooftop cable car, are just at your doorstep.

For art lovers, it’s an easy short stroll from the hotel to the Street Art Walk. This community-driven initiative aims for locals to paint large colourful murals on the walls of buildings backing onto what was previously a hidden Beverly Place. 

Fortunately, in winter, the hotel is heated throughout while guest rooms in the “new” area. The Colonial Wing (new in the fact it opened later than the original building but still dates to the 1920s), are air-conditioned.

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