Echoes, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

A few weeks ago it was our wedding anniversary and the plan was to go away for a couple of nights.  However, with having to squeeze the celebration in between a number of other events, we had to scale back our intentions and instead head away for a 24-hour escape.

Megalong Valley

Megalong Valley in the Blue Mountains

That meant we also didn’t have time for anything long distance so we booked a night at Lilianfels in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.  The Blue Mountains are just a 90-minute drive from Sydney but with the vastly different scenery, landscape and climate, you really do feel very removed from Sydney.

Megalong Valley

Megalong Valley, Katoomba

When you book a room at Lilianfels you can purchase a package that includes dinner at Darleys, the in-house restaurant, or at Echoes, the restaurant in the boutique hotel that’s located directly across the road and yes, both resorts are owned by the same company.  We’ve been to Darleys on a few occasions so we decided to book Echoes.

Side entrance to Echoes

Side entrance to Echoes

I made the booking on-line and for our accommodation you could choose a valley-view room or a resort-view room.  I selected ‘resort-view’.  Then there was a comment section so I advised we were coming up for our wedding anniversary and if at all possible, could we have a room with a lovely outlook.

Garden at the entrance

Entrance to Echoes Boutique Resort

Now Drew calls me ‘Charlie the Champion Complainer’, but it’s not without just cause.  Here’s the view from the ‘resort view room’.

A resort-view room

A resort-view room

It was like a scene from my favourite Merchant Ivory film, A Room With a View.  The room itself was beautiful.  It was large and spacious with comfy lounge chairs and a king-sized bed and a magnificent bathroom, and there was even a letter congratulating us on our wedding anniversary with some complimentary chocolates.  But the room was dark, there was no mobile reception, you felt the curtains needed to be drawn because of all the windows looking in, and there was no view.

Complimentary chocolates

Complimentary chocolates

So I picked up the phone to get straight on to the Complaints Department and Drew, who had already unpacked, just rolled his eyes.  ‘Standard’, was what he muttered.  We were swiftly upgraded to a valley view room on the top floor where there were two sets of windows overlooking the Megalong Valley with the sunshine streaming in, mobile reception and a bottle of champagne on ice ordered by our children as a surprise.  I was feeling better.

Champagne on ice

Champagne on ice

Our room at Lilianfels

Our room at Lilianfels

The view from our room

The view from our room

A valley view room

A valley view room

Our booking at Echoes was at 7pm.  Echoes has a lovely history.  In the 1920’s a large homestead was built by Florence Young who was a missionary who travelled extensively through the Far East and Papua New Guinea introducing Christianity.  From the 40’s until the mid-80’s the historic homestead was a retreat for the Australian Christian Nurses movement.  By the late 80’s it was in such a poor state of repair it had become a fire hazard and the building was torn down.

Entrance

Entrance

In its place a three-storey contemporary guest house was built as a retreat for Australian author, Thomas Keneally (Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Shindler’s Arc/List) and his television mates.  Today it is a boutique resort with rooms overlooking the world heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park.

Bar area

Bar area

The restaurant was informed by Lilianfels we were celebrating a special occasion and had consequently reserved a prime table for us on the edge of the view.  The view of the Megalong Valley is stunning and as it’s constantly changing, you can sit transfixed in front of it for hours.  We were fortunate to witness a stunning sunset where as the sun disappeared behind the escarpment, it looked as though the hills themselves were on fire.

Lounge

Lounge seating around the fireplace

The dinner menu has individual prices or you can order two or three courses for a set price.  We ordered three courses for $135/pp.  Reading through the menu, great care is taken to, as much as possible, only use locally sourced ingredients.

A restaurant situated in an incredible position

A restaurant situated in an incredible position

Complimentary bread was brought to the table and accompanied with olive oil and balsamic vinegar as well as unsalted butter.  I enjoyed the very fresh bread that had been warmed.

Warm bread with olive oil and balsamic or unsalted butter

Warm bread with olive oil and balsamic or unsalted butter

The amuse bouche was a warm and creamy tomato soup.  Sometimes I find tomato soup too acidic but this had none of those tones yet was still rich in tomato flavour.

Creamy tomato soup

Creamy tomato soup

For an entree, Drew ordered the crispy soft-shell crab and pan-fried Australian scallops with Som Tam salad.  He said this dish was outstanding.  The crab was definitely crispy and the scallops perfectly cooked with the Thai green papaya salad making the dish extremely refreshing.

Crispy soft- shell crab and pan-fried Australian scallops with Som Tam salad

Crispy soft- shell crab and pan-fried Australian scallops with Som Tam salad

I ordered the Galston Heights pan-fried quail, kale, Shimeji mushroom, tamarind & honey glaze.  Sadly, I was very disappointed with this dish.  It was certainly a very generously proportioned entree however it was terribly under-seasoned and I had to ask for salt and pepper to be brought to the table.  I found the sauce quite watery and tasteless.  Because Drew thinks I’m a champion complainer I asked him to taste it and he agreed, it was lacking in seasoning and flavour.

Pan-fried quail, kale, Shimeji mushroom, tamarind & honey glaze

Pan-fried quail, kale, Shimeji mushroom, tamarind & honey glaze

Drew’s main course was pan-fried Cone Bay barramundi fillet, Thai sour curry broth with fresh Parklands vegetables finished with lime leaves.  Drew picked another winner and thoroughly enjoyed the barramundi that was well presented, tender and juicy.  The sour Thai curry broth cut through the richness of the fish and gave wonderful contrasting flavours of heat, salty and sour.

Pan- fried Cone Bay Barramundi fillet, Thai sour curry broth with fresh Parklands vegetables finished with lime leaves

Pan- fried Cone Bay Barramundi fillet, Thai sour curry broth with fresh Parklands vegetables finished with lime leaves

I ordered the cashew nut crumbed grass fed Riverina lamb racks with parsnip Skordalia, Swiss chard, pencil leek and lemon thyme jus.  The dish was beautifully presented and also popular as I noticed a rack of lamb being brought to every other table.  The lamb was pink and tender and the Skordalia, a Greek dish of thickly pureed vegetables that includes garlic, was wonderful.  I do think lamb and parsnips work very well together.

Cashew nut crumbed grass fed Riverina lamb racks with parsnip Skordalia, Swiss chard, pencil leek and lemon thyme jus

Cashew nut crumbed grass fed Riverina lamb racks with parsnip Skordalia, Swiss chard, pencil leek and lemon thyme jus

Sides can be ordered but we found the servings generous enough in proportion to not require any additional dishes.

Twilight

Twilight

I think Drew chose the best dessert on the menu.  It was lemon crème brulee, coconut sorbet with fig and pistachio wafers.  Sometimes I find creme brulee quite sweet but with lemon flavouring this brulee, the sweetness was reduced.  It was a beautifully creamy brulee that was well contrasted with the coconut sorbet.

Lemon crème brulee, coconut sorbet with fig and pistachio wafers

Lemon crème brulee, coconut sorbet with fig and pistachio wafers

I ordered the cheese platter that was described as a selection of premium international and Australian cheese, crackers, apple chutney and quince paste.  This was very generous and probably should be ordered between two.  I was surprised to see the layered walnut cheese on the plate as I don’t consider that a premium cheese, however, the platter had a contrast of cheeses and I enjoyed the apple chutney.

A selection of premium international and Australian cheese, crackers, apple chutney, quince paste

A selection of premium international and Australian cheese, crackers, apple chutney, quince paste

Our waitress then brought us a complimentary platter of chocolates for our wedding anniversary which was a lovely gesture.

Complimentary chocolates

Complimentary chocolates

Love how the flowers match my dress

Love how the flowers match my dress

The service at Echoes restaurant is professional, attentive and discreet.  The view is uninterrupted, outstanding and unique; it’s an absolute privilege to be situated in such a prime position.  I did find the menu a little lacking in interest.  While the menu certainly reads well, and while they are trying to use ingredients locally sourced, it’s a little pedestrian in that there are no surprises and the choices are typically chicken, beef, lamb or fish with a vegetarian offering.  You can’t however, fault the service, view or setting.

Sunset

Sunset

If choosing between Darleys or Echoes, I’d say Darleys has superior food but Echoes has the superior view.

Descending the stairs

Descending the stairs

Verdict:  Uniquely positioned

Echoes:  3 Lilianfels Avenue Katoomba, NSW 2780

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Comments

  1. What a lovely place to escape to. Glad they upgraded you to a better room, for the second view is spectacular. 🙂

  2. Happy Anniversary. Lovely place to go and celebrate.

  3. Totes worth that cheeky complaint, holy wow that view from your room is outstanding, actually… everything about this experience looks wonderful. 🙂 I went to school with a girl whos parents owned a B&B in that area, this place reminds me very much of it. Anyways, lovely place to getaway, even better that all that awesome is just down the road, for both of us. 🙂 Have a super week Charlie. xx

  4. That meal looks amazing! The mountains and the falls are beautiful also.

  5. Happy anniversary Charlie! How sweet! I haven’t had “get-away” for our wedding anniversary since the kids were born! I love that you two had a nice time together (even though it was shorter than original plan). And I love that you always bring out your camera and take beautiful pictures and share with us! The view is amazing!!!

  6. Apart from the first room, what a wonderful anniversary celebration!
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 xo

  7. Happy anniversary! I am glad you asked to change rooms as the view from your second room (and the room itself) looks stunning. Ditto the restaurant location – a good choice when celebrating. I’m glad you fit the break in and enjoyed it 🙂

  8. I suspect I might be told I am a champion complainer too but I just say I am discerning! (Though I am not as good as complaining to the management as some people I know). Glad you got a beautiful room and a nice meal with a stunning view. Belated happy anniversary

  9. Happy anniversary! What a beautiful setting and room. And the view from the restaurant is spectacular.

    P.S. There’s nothing wrong with complaining when necessary.

  10. Happy Anniversary! I think calling the Complaint Department was a good call. Your room looks wonderful…the second one, that is.

  11. Just love your hair in that last photo! [Mine is also straight of same length but has streaks: those ‘natural’ ones of the colour you may not have preferred!]. A very happy year to follow that rather successful anniversary after making a ‘certain’ phone call 🙂 !

  12. I agree with BetsyB, you made a good call to complain. But why were you not given the better room to begin with?
    Happy Anniversary, what a lovely celebration and so thoughtful of your kids. Your dress is just gorgeous.

  13. The old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” is very true and I don’t think we should expect second best when we are paying for best. Good for you for speaking up, Charlie.

  14. Oh dear, what a title but as many readers have commented, if you don’t let them know how they’ve disappointed, how will they ever improve? We recently had a two night stay at a hotel in our wine region where we’ve stayed before and had exceptional service, but this last time, not so much so JT wrote to them this time and we received a $75 gift certificate for our next visit! Totally uncalled for but much appreciated. The anniversary platter was lovely, Happy Anniversary to you both, I wish you all the best. XOXO

  15. Happy Anniversary Charlie! Looks like a magical place.

  16. I’m so glad that it went well! I kept almost expecting something disastrous to happen but it looks like it was smooth apart from the initial room issue!

  17. So pretty, Charlie… I have not been to the Blue Mtns for years!

  18. Your children have good taste in champagne! Pol Roger is one of our favorites. Anyway, always worth complaining when you don’t get what you expect. Happy Anniversary!

  19. Such a nice resort. What a lovely getaway!!! Happy anniversary!

  20. Happy Anniversary! I have never been to the Blue Mountains but it certainly looks a fun escape with great food. Soft shell crab oh my that sounds so good. To many more years of marital bliss.

  21. It’s great that there is such a scenic place just 90 minutes away! It’s a perfect getaway! Happy Anniversary!

  22. Such a stunning view – for dinner and from your room! Sounds like Drew scored a hat trick with dinner – I hate it when I lose the ordering game. lol.

  23. Happy Happy Anniversary, Charlie! I hope you and Drew have many many more years of happiness together. Now – I think being a champion complainer is something to be admired – I mean look at the upgrade in the view from y’alls room! Simply fantastic! As was that complimentary platter of chocolates – indeed a very sweet gesture!

  24. Wow! That gorgeous room with a view. And happy anniversary!

  25. Happy Anniversary xx
    We were hoping to get back to the Blue Mountains over the New Year period but didn’t quite make it. Seeing your pics and meal I know we will have to make more of an effort. Such a beautiful place.
    Julie
    xx

  26. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Fabulous views — from your room and the restaurant. We just rewatched “Room with a View” not long ago. Good for you to get upgraded and you didn’t have to swap with any odd people!

  27. You had me at “Room With a View.” What a romantic place to spend an anniversary–and what gorgeous food. I wish you and Drew many, many more.

  28. What a wonderful get-away! What a lovely way to spend your anniversary. I’m amused at Drew’s observation about your “complaints,” and it makes me think of myself. I don’t want to be the one to complain, and I probably grumble more to myself than take a stand and ask for better, but I sure do enjoy it when someone else complains and I reap the benefits. LOL! Your upgrade was terrific. You know how to get it done. 🙂

  29. What a wonderful get-away! What a lovely way to spend your anniversary. I’m amused at Drew’s observation about your “complaints,” and it makes me think of myself. I don’t want to be the one to complain, and I probably grumble more to myself than take a stand and ask for better, but I sure do enjoy it when someone else complains and I reap the benefits. LOL! Your upgrade was terrific. You know how to get it done. 🙂

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