While there are many, many things that Australia does well – its beaches, its bookshops, its smashed avocado – one thing that it doesn’t do anywhere near as well as other countries is its hotel scene. Unlike places such as London, Paris, LA, and Vienna – cities which have an endless array of discerning hotels –much of Australia’s accommodation offering has the same cookie-cutter décor of drab and unoriginal rooms that really are nothing to write home about.
And so it was with utter delight that I came across Chalets at Blackheath – one of only three hotels in Australia to have been hand-picked as a Small Luxury Hotel – a accolade which is said to guarantee an intimate space in an usual place.
We visited one unseasonably hot weekend in September, and arrived by train into nearby Blackheath Station, which was a short drive from the hotel. And as we edged away from the centre of the village, down the pretty suburban streets before turning onto the tree-flanked road – back from which the chalets are perched – it felt like a world away from Sydney.
A unique retreat surrounded by almost 7 hectares of Australian bush, the chalets offer an idyllic setting from which to explore some of Australia’s most picturesque walks, without sacrificing on style – or comfort. Each chalet is achingly elegant – crisp lines, granite bench tops, woods, and white linens; and they also have a wood burning fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows, an oversized deck complete with Weber barbeque and a stand-alone bath with a leafy view of eucalyptus trees that glow different shades of green throughout the day.
We settled in immediately by tucking into the complimentary mini bar and – while it was too hot to partake in any sort of walking, we made the most of the chalet by grilling some food on the barbeque and staying mercifully cool inside. As night fell across the mountains, so too did the temperature, and a bottle of red wine and smouldering fire made for the perfect way to spend our first evening.
The next day was equally balmy, so we started early with a sunrise visit to one of the nearby look-out spots on the e-bikes that are available for guests to use throughout their stay. We then cycled back to the library, where an excellent breakfast of fruit, warm pastries, yogurts, smoothies, and coffee is served each morning. After fuelling up on croissants and iced coffee, we ventured out for a 10km hike, before calling it quits and spent the rest of the day lounging under the searing sun on our deck, before repeating the wine and fire pairing for the second night running.
A picturesque, exceptionally pretty hideaway that is precisely the kind of place that Australia needs more of, Chalets at Blackheath is the perfect spot for a rural retreat that shows off Australia at her most beautiful.
Chalets Blackheath Literary Links
While there are many, many things to love about Chalets at Blackheath, one of its front runners was – without a doubt its gorgeous on-site library, where breakfast is served, and guests are also welcomes with a chilled glass of champagne. With a selection of coffee table tomes, novels, and board games, it’s also an excellent spot to while away an afternoon should you wish to rest your legs after a morning spent hiking the ample nearby trails.
What to read at Chalets at Blackheath
One of Australia’s most famous literary classics – Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – makes for the perfect reading companion during a stay at Chalets at Black Heath. An eerie masterpiece that weaves an enthralling tapestry of mystery and haunting beauty, Picnic at Hanging Rock is set in 1900, at a girls’ boarding school in Australia, and the story unfolds during a fateful Valentine’s Day picnic to the enigmatic Hanging Rock. The disappearance of three students and a teacher sends shockwaves through the community, but Lindsay’s narrative leaves many questions unanswered. The novel’s unnerving and dreamlike atmosphere, combined with its exploration of repressed desires and the unknown, will linger long after you’ve turned the final page, and it truly is a timeless and enigmatic exploration of both the Australian landscape and the human psyche.
Sydney-siders may recognise the nearby Gleebooks, which is an extension of the much-loved independent bookshop in Sydney’s Glebe, a neighbourhood beloved for its laid-back, intellectual feel and atmospheric heritage buildings. Gleebooks in Blackheath is a beloved independent bookstore that’s been a literary hub since 2012. Nestled in the picturesque Blue Mountains, it offers a carefully curated selection of books, cozy reading nooks, and a welcoming community atmosphere. The store boasts an eclectic collection of books across various genres, all handpicked by passionate and knowledgeable staff. Its cozy atmosphere, complete with inviting reading nooks, and is the perfect spot for perusing, should you need a book of two for your stay at Chalets at Blackheath.