The Blue Mountains have long been a weekend getaway staple for Sydneysiders. But despite having a wealth of old-world hotels and retro motels, it’s been distinctly lacking in more luxurious options. Enter Chalets at Blackheath. The new retreat – which has four, very private, freestanding chalets – has sprouted up in 17 acres of bushland on the edge of the Unesco World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, within cooee’s distance of the charming alpine town of Blackheath.
When owners Angela and Tristan O’Connell took over the property, 80 per cent of the existing buildings and bush had been devastated by the bushfires that swept through the mountains at the end of 2019. They’ve worked with Garden Life landscaper Richard Unsworth and local ecologists to bring the burnt-out landscape back to life by rehabilitating seedlings rescued from the property and replanting them. For now, the blackened bushscape softened by green shoots offers a dramatic backdrop to the sleek chalets.
The experience begins after you park your car and are greeted by one of the property’s ambassadors, who will pour you a glass of Moet as you’re checked in, then lead you to your chalet.
Roomy and flooded with light, the freestanding self-contained chalets each sit on a small parcel of land, offering plenty of privacy. Generous king-sized beds are the centrepiece of each residence, clothed with sumptuous Frette linen. Well-stocked wine fridges in each room mean a late-night tipple isn’t a pipe dream, and everything in the snack drawer – chocolate, crisps and dried fruit – comes free. If you fancy cooking, there’s a kitchenette (with coffee and tea), and the minibar is filled with pre-batched cocktails and local craft beer.
An electrifyingly large limestone bathroom, kitted out with Leif skin and haircare products, takes up almost half the space. Huge twin rainfall showers with earth-toned tiles are a highlight. And an extra-deep bath with views into the nearby bush will melt the winter cold away.
The chalets have been designed to seamlessly blend into the surrounding natural environment, with its ancient sandstone escarpments and valleys of eucalyptus trees. They’ve been built using clay (best seen in the textural wall behind the beds; it’s inlaid with stones and pebbles, and helps maintain the room’s temperature, reducing the need for artificial heating and cooling); stone (a dramatic counterpoint to the black marble ledge the wood-burning fireplace sits on); and hemp, which has been used to create the exterior walls. Windows reach from the floor up to the high ceilings, visually drawing the outside in, and sliding doors open to a wide deck with an outdoor table, cushioned sun beds and a barbeque.
A daily continental breakfast is taken in the Library, a separate building with a roaring fire. Pastries from well-respected bakery Black Cockatoo are on offer, as well as fresh fruit (crisp apples from local orchards are a must), coffee, juices and cereals. On clear and cold evenings, a firepit is ignited to help guests keep warm as they stargaze.
Eco-consciousness is thoughtfully built into the complex. It can store up to 80,000 litres of rainwater, which is filtered for showers, baths and drinking water, but can also be funnelled into the Rural Fire Service’s pumps and hoses, should bushfires threaten the local area again. A Tesla charging station is installed on-site and the property has composting facilities.