I had heard much about the five-star De Hoek Country Hotel before I went there so, needless to say, my expectations were high.
After a beautiful drive through the bucolic Magaliesberg area, we crossed the stone bridge shaded by willow trees, over the Magalies River and into a serene valley. Picturesque buildings stood amid manicured gardens and bushes, with expansive views of the surrounding landscape. A friendly porter welcomed my husband and I , and led us to the reception area.
The foliage-lined steps leading to the main sandstone building teleported me to the English countryside. There was something about it that harkened back to the days of yore, when ladies and gentlemen arrived at banquets in shiny carriages for an evening of fine repast and repose.
After a quick check-in, we took a leisurely walk to our suite, through the gardens, where we became acquainted with the resident ducks and pampered felines.
We stayed in a deluxe bedroom in the new quarters. It had contemporary interiors, with calm grey walls, white wooden shutters and doors, and dark wooden furniture. A king-sized extra-length bed with Egyptian linen and goose-down duvets, was the main feature of the room. A huge plasma screen television graced the wall and a chrome chandelier dangled in the centre. A cosy little window seat nestled under the bay window shutters, perfectly positioned to relax with a book while enjoying the afternoon sunlight. Words of wisdom from the likes of Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw and plates by Carol Boyes graced the walls.
The spacious bathroom had heated towel rails, a stand-alone bathtub and a huge shower cubicle with a luxurious rain shower. In the foyer, there was a workstation with a Nespresso machine, a mini-bar and a selection of Twinings tea in silk tea bags.
The front door led to a small patio where we could relax and enjoy the sweeping views of the immaculate lawn and the surrounding mountains. At turndown, we were given bespoke De Hoek chocolates.
The honey-hued main building is furnished in Oregon pine, mahogany furniture and luxurious fabrics and has the perfect country house ambiance. It houses a cosy lounge with a fireplace, a library with a fine collection of books and the Conservatory Restaurant. Board games are available in the lounge.
Outside, garden pavilions and cast-iron tables and chairs flank the swimming pool area. Croquet, badminton, archery and boules are some of the other activities available.
Hot air balloon rides, game drives in private game reserves, horse-riding and mountain walks can also be arranged. However, we chose to relax in our private sanctuary and enjoy each other's company, a rare treat made possible by a weekend without the kids…until dinner.
Dinner at The Conservatory was a sumptuous five course feast consisting of canapes, starters, a palate cleansing sorbet, mains and dessert. The acclaimed restaurant at De Hoek is consistently rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in South Africa and has won many accolades. It was easy to see why. Some of the dishes we enjoyed included prawns in chilli tomato sauce, pan-fried monk fish, vegetable springrolls with stir-fried vegetables, and a homemade chocolate marquee. Just recalling the food now makes me salivate. For breakfast, we relished hot Salmon Eggs Benedict along with the cold continental buffet, fresh smoothies and speciality coffees.
Sadly, the time had come to say goodbye to this luxurious retreat. Suffice it to say, my high expectations were exceeded.
De Hoek is a delightful fusion of classic country bliss and contemporary luxury, with scenic surroundings and sumptuous cuisine, close to Johannesburg and Pretoria. It is a popular venue for romantic getaways and escapes from the city, corporate functions and conferences, weddings and even just some good R&R. The service is attentive, yet unintrusive. In keeping with the serenity of the sanctuary, only children over the age of 12 years are welcomed.
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