November 17, 2020

Local Landmark: The Hydro Majestic

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We’re taking a look at the history of the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel, the ultimate retreat in the Blue Mountains.

Medlow Bath is a town in the mountains that is often a drive-by; however, the Hydro Majestic Hotel is impossible to miss. Sitting upon the clifftop, the historic building offers panoramic views of the heritage-listed Megalong Valley.

The hotel in its hay-day attracted guests from across the globe. Some famous icons included Australian Opera single Dame Nellie Melba, Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and actor Russell Crowe. Australia’s first Prime Minister Edmund Barton also paid a retirement visit which turned fatal when he suffered a heart attack and passed.

After recent restorations and developments, the Hydro Majestic highlights its elegance through its proud history.

A brief history

Initially located in the town of Medlow, Australian retailer Mark Foy successfully changed the township name to ‘Medlow Bath’. While it is still unsure as to why he petitioned to alter the name, it has stayed the same since 1904.

Foy drew inspiration from British and European spas and decided to take his share of the family retails business to open Australia’s first significant health resort in the Blue Mountains. While natural springs may have been in the area, they had dried up by the time the hotel officially opened. Foy then decided to rebrand the Hydro as a luxury retreat and only allowed health treatments upon request.

Guests relaxing by the pool at the Hydro. Credit: The Hydro Majestic.

He marketed the residence towards the wealthy, highlighting the hotel’s splendour of fine food, recreational activities and entertainment. The Hydro also became the talk of the town for their opulent balls which were often fancy dress.

The hotel was beyond its time with its own electricity plant, boiler, water supply, freezing houses, and sewage plant. The Hydro actually had electricity working four days before the entire city of Sydney.

During World War II, the hotel transformed into a hospital to tend to American soldiers who got injured in battles in the Pacific.

An architectural puzzle

The Hydro is iconic in its structure and interior. The five buildings all feature different architectural styles which make this landmark unique and unusual in their own way. From Art Deco and other European influences, the Hydro is a real eye-catcher that stretches across the cliff face.

The famous dome on top of the Casino building was purchased in Chicago. Once shipped to Australia, it had to be reconstructed to its original shape on the property. The Casino building is unlike its name with no gambling in sight. The building is wedding cake-shaped, which takes inspiration from the late Victorian style. Inside is the Wintergarden ballroom and lounges, decorated with grandeur furniture and impressive lighting.

 

The iconic Hydro Majestic dome. Credit: Trip Advisor

Edwardian and Victorian architectural influences are recognised in both the structure and decor of the buildings. The rooms welcome light with large windows to showcase the natural beauty that surrounds the Hydro’s walls.

The jigsaw of styles is what makes the Hydro Majestic the most intriguing establishment in the Blue Mountains.

The Hydro Majestic of today

The Hydro Majestic today is revived as one of the prized attractions of the Blue Mountains. After closing its doors in 2008 for a major restoration, the eight-year wait was well and truly worth it.

The Escarpment Group took the reins of the Hydro Majestic and has provided world-class hospitality and tourism to the area. They also look after accompanying establishments like Lilianfels and Echoes in Katoomba. While the Hydro still functions as a hotel, there are many facilities that entertain those who are passing by, stopping for a feed or celebrating an event.

The Hydro is now a popular dining venue with sublime views that never disappoint. The Wintergarden offers High Teas of petit fours and savoury treats as well 3-course dining in the evening. The Boiler House is a popular lunch spot with delicious food all across the menu.

The Wintergarden. Credit: The Fork.

Live shows and functions are marquee events at the Hydro Majestic. The hotel also welcomes weddings, conferences and other big life events.

The Hydro Majestic Pavilion celebrates the past and present of the hotel. Walking through this store is like a Blue Mountains history lesson with artefacts from the early days of the Hydro on display. The shop also sells some of the best food and products from the area and neighbouring regions.

To visit and learn more about the Hydro Majestic, click here.

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Article by Rowan Stubbs

Managing director and founder of Stubbs and Co, Rowan Stubbs, is well known in the Blue Mountains for his expertise in property. Rowan has over 11 years of experience selling real estate throughout the Blue Mountains, negotiating some of the top sales of tightly held family homes. Rowan has negot…