A wellness guide to the Blue Mountains

On the edge of the city, retreat into the tranquil surrounds of the Blue Mountains and discover an indulgent range of wellness experiences to recharge your body and soul.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Mar 2024 -
min read

Check into a wellness hotel 

When the Hydro Majestic Hotel opened in 1904, it was Australia’s pioneering health retreat, attracting fashionable Sydneysiders and local celebrities alike. Early hydropathic treatments included things like needle baths and bowel kneading, though it soon transitioned to more traditional wellness offerings. Today, guests at the grand hotel have access to the day spa at sister property Lilianfels Resort & Spa. 

 Woman enjoying hot stone massage at Lilianfels Day Spa, Katoomba

Lilianfels Day Spa, Katoomba - Credit: Lilianfels Day Spa

Lilianfels is a little slice of Blue Mountains’ history itself, set inside a historic home from 1890. Now an elegant five-star hotel, it’s home to a stylish day spa that promises a refreshing sanctuary in the midst of World Heritage wilderness. Enjoy massages and facials, as well as interesting treatments like volcanic stone therapy. There’s also two swimming pools (one indoor, one outdoor), a tennis court and bikes available to explore the area. 

Indoor pool at Lilianfels Day Spa, Katoomba

Lilianfels Day Spa, Katoomba - Credit: Lilianfels Day Spa

The sprawling Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains is set on the edge of the Jamison Valley and surrounded by peaceful swathes of bushland. Breathe in that fresh mountain air by the pool, on the golf course, on the tennis court, with an outdoor yoga class or on the bushwalking trails that lead straight from the back of the resort. Book in for a treatment at the plush Ubika Day Spa, where rooms look over the leafy valley below. 

Morning yoga class at Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Blue Mountains

Morning yoga class at Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains, Blue Mountains

The word ‘sangoma’ means ‘healer’ in the Zulu language, so that’s exactly what you can expect at Spicers Sangoma Retreat. Tucked away at the foothills of the Blue Mountains overlooking the Nepean River, this South African-inspired property has just eight spacious suites and an atmosphere of tranquil bush luxury. Spa Anise is inside a chic safari tent and the restaurant focuses on seasonal, organic produce with vegetables taking centre stage. Pure bliss. 

Enjoy some downtime Downton Abbey-style at Parklands Country Gardens and Lodges, a secluded retreat that’s reminiscent of an English country estate. The stylish rooms all have fireplaces, rain showers and views of the gardens, which come complete with a private lake. The cosy spa offers classic treatments as well as mineral baths and a sauna. 

Massage room at Parklands Day Spa, Katoomba

Parklands Day Spa, Katoomba - Credit: Parklands Day Spa

Indulge at a day spa 

Wherever you’re staying, or if you’re just making a day trip to the mountains, there’s still time for a wellness break. Many of the hotel spas will accept day visitors, but there are also a handful of dedicated day spas dotted around the villages. Set inside a beautiful heritage building in Katoomba, Spa Sublime specialises in treatments for couples and small groups. The twin treatment rooms, twin hydrotherapy spa and all-Australian products make for a soothing retreat. 

If you’re looking for a more private experience, Apsara Day Spa creates a relaxing spa experience for one guest or one couple at a time. Set in a quiet cottage in Katoomba, they offer traditional treatments as well as medi-spa options like micro needling, laser therapy and microdermabrasion. Nearby in Leura, Hamilton Spa is another boutique operator that promises rest and relaxation. 

Inside the treatment room at Apsara Day Spa, Katoomba

Apsara Day Spa, Katoomba - Credit: G Koch

Soak your cares away 

Embrace the traditional Japanese art of ritual bathing at the Japanese Bath House Blue Mountains, the only authentic onsen in NSW. Soaking in these hot, mineral-rich waters is believed to restore both body and mind, surrounded by the beauty of nature. With multiple indoor and outdoor baths, private rooms, spa treatments and tea rooms, this whole experience promotes ikigai – ‘finding happiness through the pursuit of your reason for being’. 

Private pool at the Japanese Bath House, Lithgow

Japanese Bath House, Lithgow - Credit: Japanese Bath House

Another Japanese tradition that has made its way to the mountains is forest bathing. The practice of shinrin-yoku or ‘immersion in the forest’ is backed by science, which has shown that a mindful walk in nature can decrease stress and boost wellbeing. Join Forest Minds for a forest bathing retreat in the beautiful Blue Mountains, where you’ll learn how to tap into that healing connection with the environment. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah also runs regular forest bathing walks or you can simply set out on your own to see, feel, smell and touch.  

Hopping across the globe (and just down the road), the Blue Mountains Sauna offers a European-style group sauna experience. In many European nations, the sauna is a part of daily life, somewhere people go to soothe their body and clear their mind in the 90-degree heat. Saunas raise the heart rate, which widens blood vessels and increases circulation. It also reduces inflammation, promotes muscle recovery and joint movement, and improves sleep. Afterwards, jump into an icy cold plunge bath for a natural high. 

Finnish style sauna at Blue Mountains Sauna, Blue Mountains

Finnish-style sauna at Blue Mountains Sauna, Blue Mountains - Credit: Declan Blackall Photography

Find your inner zen 

Dedicate a whole weekend (or longer) to wellness at a holistic retreat in the Blue Mountains. Running over multiple days, these retreats generally include accommodation, nourishing meals, yoga, meditation, gentle exercise and spa treatments. Happy Buddha Retreats is in Wentworth Falls, just 90 minutes from Sydney in the foothills of the mountains, and has a weekly retreat program covering everything from inner joy and silent meditation to African drumming. 

The Brahma Kumaris is a global spiritual movement founded in India that now operates in more than 110 countries. Their retreat centre in Leura is set on 132 acres of untouched bushland and hosts multiple retreats every weekend, themed around yoga, positive thinking, meditation for healing and more. As a volunteer organisation, retreats are free of charge but you are encouraged to make a donation. 

People enjoying a yoga class at Happy Buddha Retreats, Wentworth Falls

Happy Buddha Retreats, Wentworth Falls - Credit: Happy Buddha Retreats

Go off-grid 

Sometimes, the best way to relax is just to switch off from the world. And with more than 260,000 hectares of wilderness, the Blue Mountains National Park is the ideal place to go off grid. Sleep (almost) under the stars at Bubbletent in the remote Capertee Valley. With three futuristic see-through bubbles perched on the edge of the world’s second largest canyon, it’s the perfect blend of isolation and luxury. 

Woman enjoying Bubbletent Australia's outdoor bathtub with scenic views, Capertee Valley

Bubbletent, Capertee Valley

Unyoked specialises in tiny cabins in remote locations, giving you all the comforts you need in the most unexpected of places. They operate a handful in the Blue Mountains, popping up on isolated farms or pockets of bushland. The cabins come with human names (like Tibor, Emillie, Vera and Nev) and features like wood fires, outdoor firepits, hot showers, yoga mats and huge windows for admiring the view. 

Set beside a crystal-clear trout stream, Turon Gates Mountain Eco Retreat is a tranquil collection of off-grid cottages, rustic cabins and glamping tents. There’s no Wi-Fi or mobile phone reception, so you won’t be tempted to log on. Wake instead to a calming symphony of native birdsong before heading out to spot wildlife, including wombats, kangaroos and platypus, in the serene bush landscape, try fly-fishing or go horse riding. 

View from Adults Only Luxury Glamping Tent at Turon Gates Mountain Eco-Retreat, Capertee

Turon Gates Mountain Eco-Retreat, Capertee - Credit: Turon Gates

Feast on paddock-to-plate produce 

Be nourished by exceptional fresh produce grown in and around the Blue Mountains. Megalong Restaurant is the region’s most famous paddock-to-plate offering – a fine dining restaurant set on a working farm, where organic produce is plucked from the ground right outside the window. Everything from vegetables, fruit and herbs to cattle and sheep are raised on the Lot 101 farm, and you can walk through the impressive gardens after your meal. 

Chef Colin Barker dish at Megalong Restaurant, Megalong Valley

Megalong Restaurant, Megalong Valley - Credit: Megalong Restaurant

The two-hat Arrana in Springwood fuses native ingredients with delectable fine dining for its two degustation menus. Think dishes like kingfish, finger lime and green ants or kangaroo, leek, quandong and black garlic. There are excellent options for pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans, as well as a local wine pairing or non-alcoholic cocktail pairing. 

Amuse dish at Arrana, Springwood

Arrana, Springwood - Credit: Food Frenzy

Blaq is inside the retro-chic Kyah Hotel and follows a hyperlocal philosophy. The chefs focus on provenance and work with local farmers and producers to get the best seasonal flavours on every plate. In Blackheath, Ates (from the Ottoman Turkish word for fire) uses a 150-year-old wood oven to turn out smoky Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours using local, sustainable ingredients and paired with Megalong Valley wines. 

Interior of Blaq at the Kyah Hotel restaurant, Blackheath

Blaq at Kyah Hotel, Blackheath - Credit: Steven Woodburn

Focus on your fitness 

For a more active take on wellness, there are plenty of physical challenges to be found in the Blue Mountains. The national park is threaded with hundreds of kilometres of walking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging multi-day hikes. The Grand Canyon Track is popular, a 6km loop through stunning scenery. Experts should try the Six Foot Track. Stretching for 46km between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves, this is a difficult Grade 4 hike that takes around three days with camping along the way. 

Friends on a hike at Olympian Rock Lookout, Blue Mountains National Park

Olympian Rock Lookout, Blue Mountains National Park

Explore the mountains’ spectacular canyons, gorges and waterways with an expert guide. The Blue Mountains Adventure Company and High and Wild Australian Adventures both specialise in abseiling, rock climbing, canyoning and bush survival. Abseil down a waterfall, swim through a river at the bottom of a gorge, then climb back up a challenging cliff face – a true test of your physical and mental strength. 

Abseiling_credit Dale Martin

Abseiling, Blue Mountains

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