The role of cytarabine-based induction and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) in front-line treatment of younger patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is well established, however the utility of intensive approaches in older patients remains unclear. This retrospective study compared first line treatment outcomes in patients aged 60 years or more, treated at six tertiary centres between 2000–2015. 70 patients included had a median age of 69 (60–91) and most (94%) demonstrated advanced stage disease. Treatment regimens included: R-CHOP-like (n = 39), alternating R-CHOP/R-DHAC (n = 10), R-HyperCVAD/R-MA (n = 7), R-CHOP/Cytarabine (Nordic Protocol) (n = 10) and other (n = 4). 16 patients underwent an ASCT. The median follow-up for surviving patients was 37 months. Compared to R-CHOP-like therapies, cytarabine-based regimens were associated with an improved overall response rate (ORR) of 70% vs 33% (p < 0.001) and overall survival (OS) (HR 0.541, [0.292–1.001], p = 0.05). No difference in efficacy between different cytarabine-based regimens was detected, but R-HyperCVAD/R-MA was associated with increased hospitalisation and transfusion requirements. Patients undergoing ASCT demonstrated an improved median OS (HR 0.108 [0.015–0.796], p = 0.029) but were significantly younger. These results reaffirm the use of cytarabine in MCL for selected patients aged over 60. Such regimens should be strongly considered for this population in frontline therapy.