High Tea is a treat to be savoured — finger foods, scones, delicate desserts and copious tea — yet one I have not comfortably enjoyed since developing a dairy allergy. To treat my friend for her 30th, we decided dressing up for High Tea at The Hydro Majestic Hotel was a fabulous opportunity for a mid-week escape to the Blue Mountains. Two weeks from our desired mid-August date, I rang to enquire if allergies could be catered for. I was assured my dairy allergy could be and, even better, that my friend could still enjoy a dairy-filled High Tea. Our food would be delivered on separate, three-tiered stands.
My friend and I, enjoying our High Tea in the Wintergarden.
The Hydro Majestic Hotel, aptly named for its majestic views over the Megalong Valley, provides the perfect setting to indulge. High Tea is in held in the Wintergarden, an elegant dining room with a glass wall maximising the valley views.
On this particular trip, the weather alternated between snow and rain. Wearing our winter best, we arrived at The Hydro Majestic Hotel just as heavy rain set in. Instead of the glorious views extending over the Megalong Valley that I had promised my friend, we were greeted by a wall of white cloud. Thankfully, the charm and elegance of the building still remains, even in the absence of its breathtaking views.
Entrance to the Wintergarden is through automatic doors labelled Casino. Unfortunately, on this blustering winter's morning, the doors were locked, and no alternative entrance sign was provided. We entered an adjacent building, and informed staff we were there for High Tea. We were directed down the corridor to the lobby of the Casino where a large, socially distanced, group appeared to be getting a lecture. We later learnt the group were on a history tour of the Hydro Majestic, available daily at 11am and 3pm at $10 per person. The history of the hotel is fascinating, and the tour is one I would embark upon in future.
After signing in, we were taken to our window seat table and given menu's to decide which High Tea option to choose. Options include the Wintergarden High Tea, starting from $55 weekdays, Eastern High Tea from $60, Gluten-Free High Tea from $55 we and a Children's High Tea for $35. I informed the wait staff that I had requested a dairy-free High Tea, due to allergies, and my friend ordered the Wintergarden High Tea. Our tea selections were placed, and we were given glasses of water while we soaked in the ambience of the room.
Furnishings are plush, reminiscent of the hotel's glamorous history. The expansive dining hall is lusciously carpeted with a grey and black pattern. Pale gold, softly furnished chairs surround square tables draped in white tablecloths. Each table is adorned with a small vase of flowers which match the centrepiece display on a serving table. High ceilings with sophisticated, hanging light fixtures and a wall of oversized windows flood the room with light. Soft classical music plays while the dedicated wait staff attend to guests needs. It is easy to imagine the grand balls that took place in the early 20th Century when Mark Foy first opened the hotel. In fact, the hotel usually hosts an annual Roaring 20's Festival, nostalgic of times gone by.
Our High Tea was delivered in under 15 minutes of being seated and the waiter guided us through our tiered stands. Each stand had several mini desserts on the top tier including a chocolate pudding (yes, even a dairy-free option for me!). Tier two consisted of savoury foods, including petite sandwiches and sliders, and the bottom tier had two scones with jam (and cream for the dairy eaters). I cautiously sampled food as I always do when dining out, waiting for signs of any reaction, while sipping my English Breakfast tea. A few minutes in, no allergies flaring up, I relaxed and indulged in the decadent selection of foods. I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness of my dairy-free scones (this is no small feat, believe me). The variety and quality of the food was impressive for both dairy, and dairy-free options.
Our 11am reservation was timed to suffice as brunch. The quantity was plentiful, and it carried us right through until dinner. Wait staff were discreet yet attentive, refilling water, providing extra hot water for our teas and ready to respond to any request. I ordered one of the blossom teas, which cost an additional $5 for a pot large enough for 3 cups. I chose the green tea with jasmine, marigold and amaranth; a delicate, deliciously earthy flavour. The efficient service allowed us to linger over our food, utilising our 90-minute booking slot. The clouds even partially rolled away, offering tantalising glimpses of the spectacular mountains beyond and valleys below.
We left comfortably full, a little sleepy, and ready for our afternoon of pampering in nearby Katoomba. High Tea at the Wintergarden is a wonderful treat, and one my friend and I would come back for. Having lived in England, my friend still rates the Wintergarden as one of the best High Tea's she's ever had.
The only suggestion we had for improvement is to provide clear alternate entrance signage for when tours are running. The Casino Lobby is spectacular in its own right, and entry through the front, glass sliding doors is a breathtaking experience that shouldn't be sacrificed.
Casino Lobby featuring my little sister in March, 2020.
Thankfully we were able to linger, post High Tea, to savour the Casino Lobby with its grand circular sofa, oversized floral centrepiece, high dome-ceiling and grand chandelier. A piano, marble tiled vestibule, stained glass windows and ornate finishings magnify the allure of the lobby. Complete with views across the Wintergarden to the Megalong Valley, it is a grand entrance on another level.
The Hydro Majestic is around 1.5 hours comfortable drive from Sydney CBD, and also conveniently located directly opposite Medlow Bath train station. The Wintergarden serves High Tea daily, catering for any dietary requirements when notified in advance. Bookings are essential. Take your friends or loved ones there for an elegant affair and support a community still recovering from the recent devastating bushfires and more recent COVID-19 pandemic. We are already planning our return!