With so many different styles of accommodation available here in the Blue Mountains it can be a real challenge finding the one that's just right for you.
Our local tourism authority, Blue Mountains Tourism, typically categorises accommodation in the Blue Mountains into 7 different sectors so you certainly have a lot to choose from.
If you're comparing us to another style or category and aren't quite sure what differences may be we've put together the following "insiders" overview - together with some of the things to look out for when considering your special getaway. If you have any questions please just let us know!
You won't find this one listed as a separate category in the local tourist guide because there are really only two properties that meet the criteria for the serviced apartment category. Us and one other.
We'll be a little cheeky here and say you shouldn't have any problems finding the competition - they're very centrally located (right between the mountains main railway line and a 4 lane highway).
If you're after tranquility and a real sense of 'getting away from it all' this is probably what you've got your eye on. It is accommodation that is designed with our magnificent natural environment foremost in mind and offers guests a real experience of this very special area. There aren't a huge range to choose from although you'll find both budget and luxury options available. The majority of these are totally self contained although you may find some that do simple meals.
The positives include absolute seclusion, peacefulness and usually quite unique accommodation. The only negative is when you want the seclusion but don't want to be a long drive from 'civilisation' (town, restaurants, attractions etc).
Be sure to ask as there are certainly places that offer the best of both worlds - us for example!
This can be a bit of a tricky one as some 'Guesthouses' are really just larger b&bs. The exact definition is a little fuzzy around the edges, you can make up your own mind by asking about their facilities.
A true Hotel is your classic, professional hospitality operation - it should encompass the spirit of complete service in an environment that is specifically designed to fulfill the desires of all guests. Bedrooms should be clean, spacious, well equipped and offer all amenities appropriate to their Star rating. Here in the mountains the experience is all about roaring open fires, comfy lounge rooms, a great restaurant and bar and if you pick the right place, extensive recreational facilities.
The upside here should be good facilities, friendly and helpful service all provided in a fantastic atmosphere. This is what hotels build their reputation on. It should be very difficult to pick a downside but some that we've heard from guests include less than impressive guest room sizes or facilities, noise from events happening in the hotel or worst of all, over-formal or impersonal service.
Look for hotels that have won awards (particularly Industry Association or service awards) and have a high 'Hotel' Star rating and you should be on the right track. We recommend the Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa Retreat in Katoomba if you're looking for something with great rooms and views.
If quality is important to you don't forget to check a properties advertised star rating (click here to visit the AAA Tourism website for STAR rating validation) Remember that ratings for certain styles of accommodation (notably b&b's and guesthouses) are more lenient so not all STARs are equal - a 4½ Star hotel will be radically different to a 4½ Star guesthouse.
It probably goes without saying, but whatever you do - don't trust 'self rated' properties!
Upsides are very similar to what we've just mentioned for hotels except usually all in a much larger property, with many more people roaming around and lots more recreational facilities onsite. The possible downside is that since these properties tend to be much larger and usually run by corporate concerns it's possible to get the feeling you're just another face in the crowd.
These have sprung up like nothing else over the past 10 years as the barriers to marketplace entry are very low. Pretty much anyone can acquire such a property - house, cottage, cabin, lodge, chalet, villa etc. and rent it as short term holiday accommodation. Given that in the local tourism guide these properties account for 8 pages of advertising (over 33% of the 7 total competing accommodation types) it gives some idea as to the many and varied options available.
On the plus side the sheer volume of properties available affords a great deal of choice. There's something for everyone in this category, if you have the time and inclination to research the myriad options and are lucky enough to find a property that lives up to its marketing. A lot of these properties are simply suburban houses on suburban streets given over to the short term holiday market rather than normal residential rental - something you may not realise when looking at their advertising.
On the down side, the very diversity and unregulated 'anyone can play' nature of this sector means there are huge variations in quality and picking something that balances quality & price can be challenging. Self catering also means different things to different people so be sure to ask just what is included and what you'll need to bring yourself.
If you're trying to find something a little different in cottage style accommodation for your Blue Mountains Retreat you'll find several great options at www.thebluemountains.net and www.yestergrange.com.au
A warm welcome, a cosy homely atmosphere and a lovely generous breakfast should be the order of the day. Depending on the property you may stay in a family home with a few rooms given over to short-stay accommodation - or if you're lucky an entirely separate cottage to yourself. As with self contained accommodation there is a huge variety of standards and options.
The positive bed & breakfast experience is one where all those pieces we just mentioned fall perfectly into place - the welcome, the cosy environment and a great breakie.
The potential downsides from our experience tend to revolve around guest privacy (or the lack thereof) and the host themselves. Do they have the personality and interest to host guests in their house night and day, season after season? Being outgoing, friendly and obliging is a critical part of the job and the job is a 24/7 commitment.
We get more disappointed 'refugees' from cottages and b&b style accommodation than any other, which is why we recommend you find out exactly what you're booking. It is often hard to judge from a basic website or a couple of pictures. There are some fantastic properties & hosts locally - just make sure you're getting one of them if this is the type of accommodation you're considering.
If you're looking for accommodation on the tightest of budgets and don't need anything flash these are an obvious choice. You won't find many options in this category in the Blue Mountains, but since this style of accommodation doesn't pretend to be something it's not you can usually be sure of your expectations being met.
Another budget option is the trusty old motor inn which offers basic accommodation, usually in a central location to town. On the plus side you should get a reasonably cheap nights sleep, usually with the option of breakfast (or maybe even a basic restaurant onsite). The downside can be that often "centrally located" translates into something less than a peaceful stay.
Depending on the time of year you're visiting it's worth weighing up the cost, as you may be able to find higher standard accommodation for not a great deal more dollars.
The Avenue (Off Falls Road) Wentworth
Reservations: (02) 4757 8801