Jo’burg never ceases to amaze me. Just when you start feeling claustrophobic from the buildings, the traffic and the crowds, you discover that there are places in the city that will make you feel like you are in the bushveld, far away. Places like Idwala Boutique Hotel …
The 5-star rated Idwala Boutique Hotel is situated in the upmarket suburb of Darrenwood, near Cresta Shopping Centre. It was originally built as a farmhouse over 100 years ago. The name Idwala means “rock”, which is what the original farmhouse house was built from. The natural rock was restored by the new owners and the building was transformed into a luxurious boutique hotel oozing African elegance and charm, just over ten years ago.
We arrived at Idwala after a shopping session at Cresta. As we entered the gates, we felt as though we had left the city far behind. Within seconds, Jeanette, the friendly owner and manager, came out to welcome us and led us to the main lounge area, where we were offered drinks and checked in. The warm, earthy tones were reminiscent of safari lodges and relaxed us promptly. One could be forgiven for thinking that one was in the bush – sans the wildlife.
The hotel consists of a cluster of charming stone and thatch rondavels (round huts) nestled in lush gardens. There are twelve bedrooms in total. A huge main rondavel houses the public areas which include the open-plan lounge and dining room areas, the kitchen, a small library and three bedrooms. Oriental rugs, antique furniture and burgundy sofas grace the lounge area. The large bay windows are left open during the day for the garden views. At night, they are closed and a roaring log fire warms the public areas. Conference facilities are available too.
There is a small rock pool in the gardens and an outdoor boma area where one can enjoy the sun on warm days and relax around the fireplace on chilly evenings.
The gardens continue throughout the property with manicured lawns, creeping vines and potted plants, amid which the rooms are situated. All this lush vegetation attracts abundant birdlife.
We had two en-suite garden rooms, one for us and one for the kids. They were smaller thatched rondavels, also made of rock. The rooms featured extra-length king-size beds with percale linen, a workstation, a TV, a coffee station and a minibar. Some fresh fruit and a tin of home-made cookies awaited us.
A bunch of fresh roses graced the coffee table along with some current reading material. Underfloor heating and air-conditioning kept the rooms warm and cosy. I wasted no time in getting comfortable on the bed with a magazine, while the rest of my family each relaxed in their own way. Complimentary wi-fi was available, to the kids’ delight. In-room massages can be arranged on request.
The bathroom was spacious and continued the Africana theme. There was a huge bathtub, a large rain shower, heated towel rails and toiletries by L'Occitane en Provence. Comfy bathrobes and slippers were provided too.
Dinner was a gourmet 3 course-affair. All the dishes were creative and inspired, and Chef Paul ensured that we were happy.
We had a tangy beetroot, butternut and goat’s cheese starter, and spicy prawns and kingklip almondine (a decadent kingklip sprinkled with roasted almonds) for the main course. Then it was time for dessert. My husband and I opted for the chocolate mousse, my daughter had a strawberry delight mousse and my son chose his favourite - malva pudding. He’s still talking about it a week later and he’s a very picky eater! The food was wholesome and well-presented. Well-fed and contented from a hearty dinner, we returned to our comfortable rooms where we had a great night’s sleep.
Breakfast, the next morning, was just as good. My husband and I enjoyed a yoghurt parfait, and poached eggs with avocado, salmon and cream cheese served on sour dough bread and the kids relished their crumpets with berries and nuts. Non-resident guests are also welcomed for meals but pre-booking is essential.
Idwala Boutique Hotel offers a unique bucolic experience in Johannesburg. It is ideal for city slickers who want to feel as though they’re in the bush but can’t or don’t want to leave the city confines. If you are looking for a luxurious, intimate retreat with personalised service, then this is a great choice.
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