some interesting Background notes
The Robertson Hotel is steeped in history, with much of it documented in history books and newspapers, but also coming to life by way of locals dropping by with fondly remembered anecdotes and warm nostalgic tales.
Being one of the first properties in the area, the location of the building itself was chosen for its height, sitting in a majestic position on the escarpment with incredible views out to the entire area.
There is not one part of the building and its grounds that hasn’t been touched by skilled local hands, with everything from the plumbing to the plastering painstakingly constructed by long-trusted local businesses.
Even the ornate ceilings were the handiwork of GR. LUMB & SONS, which employed 10 people using the traditional lath and plaster method of genuine horsehair and mortar. It took a painstaking and methodical six months to complete and it not only gives incredible strength to the building, but it lends it a beautifully antiquated character.
The actual builder of the Manor, local icon Alf Stephens from Alf Stephens & Sons, employed the expert craftsman to create this incredible manor.
A little known fact was that Stephens was best mates with Sir. Donald Bradman, through his position as Captain of the Bowral Cricket Club. It was Stephens who originally cut down a bat to suit Bradman’s shorter stature, which then propelled the batsman to the legendary status he enjoyed throughout his career, and to this day and beyond.
In an interview with the Sunday Sun in January 1930, George Bradman, Don’s father, stated: “Mr. Alf Stephens, a prominent member of the Bowral Club, brought Don’s name before the big men of cricket … I am very, very thankful for the interest taken in my lad.”
Indeed, if our walls could talk, we’re sure they could spill plenty of raucous tales of Bradman and Stephens enjoying a laugh and a friendly game around the manor and its grounds.
The link with great sporting icons doesn’t stop there. In one of the staff change rooms, there is etched on the wall the odds on several horse races of the day, with the name Phar Lap coming up more than once!
The Hotel has always had a deep connection with healing. Following World War II the healing properties of the building and its grounds were evident, with many veterans enjoying lengthy stays in order to rest and recover.
This healing ambiance is still evident today, with clean, crisp air, lush garden surrounds, rolling mists and a pristine silence that will ensure you will sleep more soundly than you have ever before.
Likewise, the Hotel has always had a strong connection to animals and their welfare. In 1947, the building briefly became a Franciscan Friary and seminary, which is when the beautiful stained glass windows, rock walls and fountains were installed. Known as protectors of animals, the Franciscan monks kept peacocks and all manner of animals on the grounds.
Then, in the 1980s, it was a haven to injured wildlife, with its owners at the time taking in all manner of injured native marsupials. You will still notice signage around the grounds, warning drivers to heed their speed to protect the natives. What’s more, the much-loved 1995 film, Babe, was actually filmed on the Grounds of the Robertson Hotel, and you can glimpse the Hotel in the background in quite a few scenes. It is with this in mind that we intend on opening a petting zoo, for children of all ages to enjoy the beauty of many native and exotic species.
We will be offering historical tours of the hotel, so you can experience this personally during your stay and see for yourself why it was named the “Most Luxurious Hotel in the Commonwealth”, back in 1925.
The hotel was originally built to draw some of the Sydney-siders who retreated to the cool Southern Highlands to escape the heat of the summer and enjoy the beauty of the country side, and in 1930 the hotel was marketed as an exclusive country club and renamed Ranelagh Country Club after the Ranelagh Gardens in London.
The Robertson Hotel – Southern Highlands as it was originally established in 1924, was once considered the most luxurious hotel in the Commonwealth. Formerly known as Ranelagh Hotel and Fountaindale Grand Manor. Hotel accommodation is now available and we are taking bookings for weddings, conferences or any private events. The hotel boasts 50 rooms and 4 seductive oversized penthouse suites.
The Robertson Hotel gardens are the gateway to the Southern Highlands and the border to tranquil Kangaroo Valley. The estate and its gardens have been lovingly maintained and retain its period charm, providing just the right mix of past and present to ensure a comfortable and memorable stay. The 14 acres of landscaped gardens could be the perfect setting for a wedding or romantic picnic and provide a distraction-free environment, only one hour and 45 minutes from Sydney CBD, one and a half hours from the capital Canberra. And only 12 minutes from the much sought after Bowral.
The Robertson Hotel, was built in 1924 and opened it’s doors as Hotel Robertson. Originally it boasted a nine hole golf course, two tennis courts, croquet, lawn bowls, billiards, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, and an onsite mechanic who tended to guest’s cars during their stay.
It was in 1925 when it was voted the ‘Most luxurious hotel in the Commonwealth’ and was the first hotel in Australia to have phone lines to every room. I