When you first set foot on Spicers Sangoma Retreat, it takes a lot of effort to reign in your excitement. Plus, the beautiful drive up to this Blue Mountains hideout doesn’t help. After winding your way through the native bushland of Bowen Mountain, you’re greeted with a beautifully breezy living room and glorious pool that overlooks the countryside, the city far off in the distance. This jaw-dropping view is framed by more bush, making it the sort of place you could basically spend forever (especially with a wine in hand!)
In true Spicers style, the food here somehow manages to exceed all your expectations. Spicers Sangoma Retreat is a little different to its Hunter Valley cousin, as here all the dining is exclusively for guests, making the experience that much more intimate - especially for couples.
Head Chef Sam Hardinge personally brings out each dish, adding little details on why the ingredients you’re about to eat are so mind-blowing. We were lucky enough to try the crispy skin barramundi that was sourced from the mouth of a river in NT, which makes the flavour especially clean and the texture meltingly tender. The “limited edition” tomatoes it’s served with taste sweeter and fresher than we ever thought possible (a result of some deliciously freak weather that week).
Much of the produce is sourced from nearby farms, courtesy of Sam’s connections with the local community (he grew up in Katoomba after all). Some of the herbs are even picked straight off the property. What shines most about the food, though, is that Sam is clearly as obsessed about food as we are.
Every dish is comforting and uncomplicated, but with enough of a surprise twist to make them really special. The Caroola duck san choy bow, for example, comes in crispy endive cups - a deliciously genius touch that we’re totally stealing (and you can’t stop us Sam!). For both lunch and dinner you can get multiple taster courses rather than suffer from indecision, and if you get peckish later, there’s always cheese in the fridge you can help yourself to. See why we want to stay here forever?
After dinner, the fire outside roars to life, ready for some marshmallow toasting under the stars. These can be accompanied by the cocktails you can have a go at making - if you haven’t had too much wine. And if you have, the awesome crew in the kitchen will sort you out just fine. All the treats and drinks are included as part of your getaway, which means no one’s counting how many you have had…
Of course if you’re in need of a little more privacy as you sip away, every room has its own fireplace and a two-person bath that overlooks a forested view. Our pick is the “tent” suite surrounded by lush forest canopy. Its cliff setting means there’s no chance of wanderers-by, and it’s a perfect spot for admiring the sun setting after an epic day’s eating and bush walking.
Once you’ve ticked Spicers Sangoma Retreat off your bucket list, you may have some trouble leaving - we certainly did! Your significant other might also get a little jealous about the way you talk about it. Just warning you.
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Image credit: Jackielyn Powell, Spicers Sangoma