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Hotel Review: Kyah Boutique Hotel, Blue Mountains

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Hotel Review: Kyah Boutique Hotel, Blue Mountains

Kyah Boutique Hotel is a colourful, Californian-inspired hotel and leading farm-to-table restaurant housed in a reimagined motel in the Blue Mountains town of Blackheath

“We’re a small fish in a big pond – we’re not trying to be a five-star hotel, but we are determined to only ever offer five-star service,” says Mate Herceg, General Manager of Kyah: a playfully designed, sustainability-focused hotel in the bohemian town of Blackheath.

Crowned Chef of the Year by Tourism Accommodation Australia in 2016, and having held Executive Chef positions at some of the Blue Mountains’ leading venues, Herceg knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a hotel in this particular tourist hotspot work. That knowledge – along with his connection to and reverence for the natural environment of the area – is what inspired the owners of Kyah to work with him in bringing the space to life.

Owned by a group of brothers, Kyah Boutique Hotel is a contemporary, playfully designed hotel housed in a renovated 1970’s motel – a synergistic celebration of Blackheath’s creative heritage and high-end hospitality. Throughout the 46 guest rooms and vast, 170-seat restaurant space, retro design has been executed with a masterful degree of sophistication by one of the brothers (Carl) and his team from Sydney’s MKD Architects. And while the aesthetic is playful, the ethos of the hotel is considerate – committed to honouring the area through a minimal-footprint approach.

Kyah Boutique Hotel

“We think about sustainability in everything from our menu to our cleaning products,” says Herceg.

The accommodation offers – neatly appointed rooms fitted with hyper-comfortable feather-down beds, custom lighting and designer Caesarstone bathrooms – hold enough appeal to make Kyah a favourable Blue Mountains base, but it’s the restaurant that really sets the hotel apart.

Housed in a striking glass and marble space, Blaq is a farm–to–table restaurant that celebrates locally sourced, seasonal produce through creative, contemporary Australian cuisine. Honouring the flux of the seasons, the menu changes frequently – allowing Herceg and his team to showcase local ingredients when they’re in their prime.

Kyah Boutique Hotel
Hot tub

“We grow as much as we can in our hotel garden, and most of our other ingredients are sourced from within an 80k radius. We can’t be perfect, but there’s so much amazing produce in this area, we want to celebrate and elevate it whenever we can,” Herceg explains.

We arrived at Kyah on a Friday evening, and with the drive from Sydney under two hours (pending traffic), it’s the perfect distance for an easy night away. The mountain air struck us immediately – icy cold, oxygen-laden and laced with the scent of the eucalypts. 

After the sort of deeply restful sleep that can only really be found away from the city’s buzz, the morning brought with it the kind of perfect autumn day that attracted Herceg to the mountains back in 2014.

“There’s something about the mountains that reminds me of winters with my family in Croatia when I was a child – those cold, sunny days and the close connection to nature,” he reflects.

Kyah Boutique Hotel
Bikes are available to enjoy a scenic drive

Dappled light poured into the dining space through a glass wall occupying one side of the restaurant, and we chose a table by the log fire to settle in for breakfast. A continental breakfast – local cheese, pastries, fruit and homemade granola – is served on the natural marble bar that occupies the centre of the restaurant, with an a la carte menu that reflects Blaq’s expertly executed, sustainability-focused ethos. Savoury options include a spectacular gruyere croque monsieur and a mushroom bruschetta crowned with goat’s cheese from nearby Jannei Dairy. The most mountain-appropriate option though is the porridge – a steaming bowl packed with roasted fruits, Kyah mixed berry compote and a sweet granola crumble.

After breakfast, we took the e-bikes for a twenty-minute whizz into the town – along a winding road shaded by a canopy of caramel-coloured leaves. A satisfyingly motor-assisted ride on the hotel’s pastel-toned bikes is just one of the leisure activities on offer – with a tennis court, outdoor hot tub and sauna also available for guests to use throughout their stay.

“We want to provide the kind of escape that allows people to really enjoy the best of the mountains – whether that’s sitting around a fire, enjoying a hot tub under the stars or just having a really great meal made from locally sourced produce,” Herceg says.

Kyah Boutique Hotel
A cosy fire pit definitely raises the atmosphere in the evening

After checkout, we decided to leave Blackheath to explore more of what the area has to offer.

A thirty-minute drive from the hotel – through a valley that feels prehistoric in its scale and striking natural beauty – sits Dryridge Estate, a family-run vineyard and Cellar Door that makes for an absurdly idyllic daytime drinking destination.

On a ledge that overlooks a gently sloping vineyard, tables filled with groups of friends sampling carefully paired wine with abundant plates of cured meats, focaccia and locally made cheese (including vegan options from Blue Mountains Creamery). We spent the afternoon suspended in the uniquely still hum of the valley, sampling the vineyard’s seven vintages which range from a zesty Vermentino to a deep, peppery shiraz. 

What both Kyah and Dryridge have in common – along with their family-run approach – is a charming lack of pretension that facilitates fun. These are venues that have defied the Blue Mountains tourist-ready conventions – uncomplicated destinations whose simplicity spotlights what the Blue Mountains are all about.

In Herceg’s words: “It’s about looking after the environment and immersing ourselves in the place, so that we can enjoy it today, and our children can keep enjoying it tomorrow,”.

Rates start from $240 per room per night for a King Room. For more information or to make a reservation visit www.thekyah.com.au , or follow Kyah on Instagram @kyahhotel

ABOUT AUTHOR
Winnie Stubbs
Winnie Stubbs is an English-born writer, who focuses on shining a light on sustainable spaces and eco-luxe destinations. Alongside working as a freelance travel writer, Winnie has previously worked as editor of The Conscious Space: a platform that helps curious humans achieve a more mindful, low-impact existence. When she’s not writing, Winnie spends her time swimming in the ocean, practicing yoga, and eating and drinking her way around Sydney, where she’s lived for the past few years.

Instagram@luxnomade

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