Hillier House, Blackheath review: Bubbles and a good lie down

Read our writer's views on this property below

With a spa to soak in and chaise longue to fall asleep on, Natalie O'Brien and family find their perfect match.

IT IS the huge outdoor spa that really attracts my attention. It is a luxury I crave in any weekend getaway. I became an aficionado of the outdoor spa after installing one in the backyard of my former house in Perth.

So when I saw photos of the spa on the website for Hillier House, I immediately chose the property and told the family to pack swimmers.

I wasn't disappointed. The spa, which can easily fit six adults, is the first thing we see as we drive up to the house - apart from the pretty rows of iceberg roses and lavender bushes.

Opening the cover, I find it has already been warmed up. The owners have thoughtfully kept it on a timer so it is constantly warm during our stay.

We had decided to escape to the Blue Mountains for a quick but much-needed getaway and the house in the hilltop hamlet of Blackheath is a comfy, and easily reached bolt-hole.

The house itself is so big we encourage the grown-up kids to drag themselves away from their usual weekend pursuits and join us.

With four double bedrooms, five bathrooms, a rumpus room with bunks, two large TVs, a music system and cable TV, there is plenty to do and heaps of space.

But while I am so enamoured of the spa, they don't even take a dip. The main attraction for them is the enormous DVD collection, which encompasses children's films, dramas and musicals.

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The unusual decor in the two-storey house grabs the attention of our up-and-coming event and entertainment designer.

She is transfixed by the over-the-top zebra-patterned and silver dining setting reflected in the Venetian mirrors in the foyer.

Just inside, there is an equally elaborate and apparently comfortable gold chaise longue, where my husband dutifully falls asleep reading the papers.

Following the trail of birdcage motifs on the walls leading up the stairs, we discover the double master bedrooms, which all have their own en suites (ours with an indoor spa), four-poster beds and huge dangling Moroccan-style lamps.

We have arrived late and after exploring the house we decide to eat in and enjoy our surroundings. The kids want pizza for dinner, but the only place we know about is closed this weekend, so they traipse down to the fish and chip and hamburger shop on the highway.

They return with huge serves of chips and some tasty hamburgers, and we settle into the massive leather lounge suites, light the gas fire and watch movies.

In the morning, after I start the day with a quick spa, we eat a big cooked breakfast at one of the two dining tables that can seat about 16 people.

We are joined by two magpies outside the dining room windows, eyeing off our sausages with intent.

They have clearly done this routine before, and quite successfully, I imagine. I succumb to their beady-eyed demands and take the cut-up leftovers outside to appease them.

We had planned to spend part of the day at Scenic World in Katoomba. But it is drizzling and the wind is whipping the trees, so we wimp out and instead explore the warm and sheltered shops along the pretty Govetts Leap Road shopping strip.

The quaint village of Blackheath has retained some of the glamorous art deco architecture that swept the Blue Mountains in the 1930s. It is still evident in some of the homes and shops that include a number of interesting fashion boutiques.

Blackheath also has a choice of homeware shops where I dreamily pick through the pretty household accessories. The bookshop is popular with everyone in the family and, several purchases later, we proceed to lose each other in the antique centre, which is stuffed full of bric-a-brac and collectables.

In the late afternoon the kids return to Sydney, leaving us to spend another relaxed night alone.

We toss up how we will spend it. Will it be at one of the fabulous restaurants Blackheath is known for? Or we could drive the short distance to Katoomba and eat at one of its quirky restaurants. But the mountain air has relaxed us so much we can't be bothered dressing up or going far, so we look for a casual eatery nearby. We slip into the St Mounts Trattoria.

It is a slow Sunday night and we almost have the place to ourselves. Our table overlooks the gardens and a pretty birdbath and we enjoy the peace and quiet and the ample Italian dishes.

After dinner we head back to the house for a late-night dip in the spa. It is unseasonably cold but, despite my husband's initial, futile protest about the freezing night air, we leap in, lie back and enjoy a long steamy soak.

The writer was a guest of Hillier House and Destination NSW.

Trip notes

Where 1 Hillier Road, Blackheath.

Getting there About 1½ hours from Sydney. Take the M4 motorway, continue on the Great Western High through the mountains to Blackheath and turn right at Govetts Leap Road.

How much From $200 a night Sunday to Thursday. From $900 for Friday and Saturday night.

Perfect for Everyone from couples to large groups.

Don't forget Swimmers for the spa and shoes for a walk to Govetts Leap Lookout.

Shame about No salt or pepper in the house, nor are there any brochures for the many restaurants in the area.

Kudos For the bowl of lollies that disappeared in seconds.

Take the kids For sure. There is plenty to keep them amused.