Lilianfels Resort and Spa

New South Wales’ Most Desirable Pet Friendly Escape

By Si Si Penaloza


Perched on a dramatic ridge in Australia’s Blue Mountains National Park, Lilianfels Resort and Spa is housed in a rather resplendent 19th-century manor. One of the region’s most desirable getaways, the hotel is reminiscent of an old-world Victorian, apart from the fact that it’s triple the size and with a panoramic view of one of the new world’s most iconic natural monuments. In fact, Lilianfels is a mere five-minute walk from the landmark sandstone peaks of Three Sisters.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

Lilianfels also happens to be one of the most pet-friendly hotels in all of Australia, so you never have to leave your furry friend at home again – that’s something we can all shake a paw on. The award-winning retreat offers ‘Bring Your Own Dog’ packages, so you can enjoy the luxurious surrounds and explore the Australian wilderness with your best friend. This stylish stay has been doggie-approved by many a discerning daschund, so you can live it up without having to feel guilty about leaving a legit family member behind. You and your four-legged wee beast will have the time of your lives in the land down under.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

It’s not just companionship that drives people to go on a pet friendly holiday. Did you know that there are more pets in Australian than people? Seriously, it’s a thing. So why not go through a few extra steps to bring your pet on the Instagram trip of a lifetime? Cats and dogs can be imported to Australia under strict conditions designed to manage biosecurity risks.

Virgin Australia launched its frequent flyer program for pets in 2013. The airline’s Velocity members earn 300 points (or more, depending on membership status) each time their dog or cat flies on the domestic network. Talk about progressive pet policies! We love it and wish other airlines (looking at you Air Canada) would follow suit.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

The first thing you’ll notice about Lilianfels is the air. It’s the faint aroma of eucalyptus bark and bell frogs, of clear pools and ancient rocks and silence. Breathe young pug, like you’ve never breathed before. Katoomba is a total bucket-list worthy experience, the hub of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. For thrill seekers, head out to nearby Scenic World, where a cable car shuttles between cliffs and a railway plunges down an incline reputed to be the world’s steepest.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

Lilianfels is the epitome of old-world charm, a history-steeped Blue Mountains escape where even the roses adorning the gardens are vintage. Each of the hotel’s 85 rooms and suites features ornate beds with draped headboards, wood panelling, wing-backed chairs and a marbled ensuite. A wrap-around terrace offers plenty of alfresco dining opportunities; there are also sumptuous lounging areas to choose from inside. The decor is a stylish mix of antiques, conversation pieces and cozy sofas that suggests pampering without pretension. Overlooking the operatic drama of the Jamison Valley, you and your dog are only a short walk from Echo Point.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

With a heated indoor pool and extensive spa menu, we remained happily cosseted within the Lilianfels bubble for days. A true destination spa, guests idle for days in little more than a fluffy robe – a living brochure for the blissed out. Friendly, confident staff cater to eccentricities rather than scoffing (the last thing you want in a spa is a hassle).

The Spa’s calling card is volcanic thermotherapy; myriad ways to bake, sweat and stew. Ready for a sweet kiss of heaven? It’s in the bag. The rising popularity of ancient poultice rituals is a revival of healing in the raw. Poultices – muslin bags filled with a therapeutic blend of lavender, rose, chamomile and jasmine – are dipped in warm macadamia oil and applied with rhythmic strokes. First, the therapist released my computer-induced kinks by pressing softened aromatic compresses into strategic pressure points. She then massaged in a synchronized sequence, soothing stiffness with the bundle’s steaming heat.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

Virtually unchanged from its beginnings in ancient India, the humble herbal poultice effectively treats pain and inflammation by bringing a medicinal heat to overworked muscles. Steam releases active ingredients and essential oils in the fragrant pouches, and induces sweat to flush toxins, increase blood circulation and calm the nervous system.

At sundown, guests cozy up in plush armchairs beside toasty fireplaces. A pianist accompanies cocktail service, while high tea here is an absolute must. After all, you are a guest at what was once the estate and summer residence of Sir Frederick Darley, the sixth Chief Justice of New South Wales. The original house, built in 1889, has endured extensive restorations to become Darley’s Restaurant, a beacon to gourmands craving modern Australian fare.


Photo: Lilianfels Resort and Spa

Visit Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa on Lilianfels Avenue, New South Wales, Australia; 61 (02) 4780 1200;