The historic Hydro Majestic was the most glamorous hotel in the Blue Mountains in its heyday of the 1920s and ’30s. Opened in 1904 as the Medlow Bath Hydropathic Establishment by department store baron Mark Foy, it attracted the likes of opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and presidents and prime ministers in its heyday.
During World War II, it was taken over by the US Defence Department and turned into a hospital for soldiers.
In the 1950s it was a favourite haunt of honeymooners and other romantics, however, after Foy died in the 1950s it slipped into decline with various owners who could barely afford its upkeep.
Today’s Hydro is a restored gem thanks to a $30 million renovation that has returned the 54 room hotel, teetering on an escarpment overlooking the Megalong Valley, to its former glory.
The hotel is an eclectic array of fabulous buildings stretching for 1.1 km along a precipice. At one end are the art deco styled guest rooms and glamorous Hollywood-era private guest lounge and a lavish entrance foyer known as the ‘casino’ where entertainers performed back in Foy’s day.
At the other end is a new casual diner, the Boiler House, which true to its name takes over the space which contained the boiler that supplied electricity to the hotel even before Sydney had power.
And in between are a ballroom, a glorious light-filled dining room, the Wintergarden, and a pavilion displaying fascinating hotel memorabilia and doubling as a café serving food and wine of the region.
A favourite room is the dramatic Cats’ Alley, a hallway decorated with magenta walls, turquoise velvet sofas and drapes edged with peacock feathers, so named because women would sit in sofas by the walls and watch other women (and gossip) as they walked by on their way to dinner.
Another stylish venue is the Chinoiserie-chic Salon du Tea (Shanghai style tea house), which is a nod to Foy’s love of all things Oriental.