The welcome letter at The Nest Hotel hinted that we may return home with a few kilograms to shed. They weren't kidding. One of the few resort hotels in South Africa that still serve sumptuous cuisine a la table d'hote , the food is a big draw card here. Hearty breakfasts, three-course lunches and six- course dinners are included in the room rate. So are morning and afternoon tea and treats. Not having to worry about meals – especially when you are accompanied by children - is a huge bonus. That the country-style food was delicious was another bonus. There were always vegetarian options, and usually fish too. Many of the ingredients are from the hotel’s own gardens. After our first meal there, we began looking forward to mealtimes. Even my picky children enjoyed the food.
The family-friendly Nest Hotel is set in sprawling gardens in the majestic Champagne Valley region of Central Drakensberg. It is approximately four hours away from Johannesburg and only two hours from Durban. The hotel dates back to 1933, and the current building was built in 1943 by Italian prisoners of war. As one of the original hotels in the Berg, it oozes old world charm and hospitality, and is a popular conference and wedding venue too.
There are different types of rooms to suit different tastes and family sizes, including rondavels, garden rooms and mountain-view rooms. Our cosy mountain view room consisted of a bedroom and a bathroom on the lower level. A winding staircase led to a loft with three beds which my kids claimed as their bedroom. There was a television with a wide selection of channels and a radio built into the wall. Electric blankets, underfloor heating and air-conditioning were provided to combat the unpredictable weather elements. Our room overlooked the beautiful mountains, part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site.
Meals are often served on the colonial verandah. It is also the perfect place to witness the spectacular African sunsets over the mighty Drakensberg. On my first evening there, I spent over twenty minutes photographing the many vibrant shades of sunset.
There are several things to do around the resort. We went for a scenic walk to the “Hippo Pools”. Although there were no hippos there, it was a pleasant walk amid picturesque surroundings and fresh air. Later, we tried our hand at amateur bowls on the championship bowling green. The hotel is renowned for its world class bowls led by Theuns Fraser, the resident head coach of the South African bowls team.
We also enjoyed playing pool and darts with the kids. There is an on-site spa, a kiddies playground, a swimming pool and tennis courts. I picked up a captivating book from the reception library which I enjoyed during my stay too. Wifi is available in the public areas.
There are many activities in the surrounding areas too. The Drakensberg Canopy Tour, Falcon Ridge Bird of Prey Centre, and the iconic Drakensberg Boys Choir concerts are within close proximity. There are golf courses, hiking trails, rock art sites, battlefield tours, helicopter flights and hot air ballooning in the vicinity too.
The Nest Hotel attracts many repeat visitors who love returning to the warm hospitality, the exquisite scenery, the tasty country food, and the ambiance of the good old days. Did I mention that it also offers great value for money?
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Things you must do in South Africa
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