My husband and I were so lucky to enjoy a night away from the city at the gorgeous De Hoek Country hotel in Magaliesburg this weekend. We were invited by Land Rover as this would be the first of many excursions around Gauteng in an effort to find all the wonderful spots hidden in the province. South Africans are well-aware that Cape Town is the food-mecca but Gauteng has some hidden gems as well and with Land Rover, I’m going to be digging them all out and sharing them with you.
De Hoek was built 18 years ago but it feels like it’s been there for a hundred years. The beautiful sandstone and huge trees make it seem like you’re in a different country, never mind only 1 hour out of Johannesburg. The moment we pulled our Freelander up to the hotel, I started relaxing. Knowing my kids were safely booked into their own hotel (aka my aunt’s house) allowed me to stop worrying and start enjoying. We were warmly greeted by staff who came to the car to assist us with our luggage and taken into the foyer of the beautiful hotel, after-which we were shown to our room.
I am an absolute hotel-nut and I just love the beautiful rooms and little luxuries they usually offer. Thank goodness I wasn’t disappointed. The rooms are generous and beautifully decorated with solid Mahogany furniture and inviting fabrics. The bathroom is any woman’s dream with a huge bathtub, big shower and double vanity. And the best of all? Charlotte Rhys toiletries!
After settling in for a bit, we decided to return to the main building to have high tea. A modest, yet beautiful spread of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits with cheese were laid out on the table. As it was freezing cold in Gauteng this weekend we were desperate for hot coffee and we were in heaven when they brought us the best cappuccinos I’ve ever tasted. After high tea, we settled into the lounge in front of one of many fireplaces and stayed there for almost 3 hours! The couches were so comfortable and the room so cosy and warm, who would want to leave?
One thing we all noted was that the service at De Hoek is definitely worthy the 5 stars the hotel holds. Our glasses were topped up constantly but yet we never felt smothered by the staff’s presence.
Dinner was served at 19h30 and even though it was hard to leave the comfort of the lounge, the thought of a 5-course gourmet meal was enough to get us all to the dining room. And once again, we were not disappointed. The menu was simple but oh-so-impressive and I just could not decide what to have. Veal Risotto with butternut and parmesan, Seafood soup with a pastry top and caprese salad were our starter options. The Risotto was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. The veal was tender and flavourful and the butternut worked very well with the saltiness of the Parmesan. My fellow diners were all very quiet whilst eating which can only mean they enjoyed their starters as much as I did. We were served Rose Sorbet which they outsource to a local Magaliesburg resident. I never thought sorbet could be both light & fresh yet so incredibly moreish at the same time.
For main course I had the Beef fillet with a bone marrow crust served with potato rosti and a oxtail croquette. Quite a mouthful to say but so worth it. The fillet was perfect cooked and the bone marrow crust added both texture as well as succulence to the meat. And the oxtail croquette was pure perfection, not over-powering the fillet but complimenting it beautifully. Other dinner options were Confit of duck with an orange sauce and Sea bass with green-bean bundles served with a white wine sauce and capers.
Dessert options were Hazelnut parfait with orange custard and a trio of baked dessert. The Malva pudding, drenched with luscious syrup was out of this world and the orange custard accompanying the hazelnut parfait was so silky and smooth, I didn’t want it to end!
We were all quite happy to retire to our rooms after dinner and as we walked through the door we were surprised with a candle-lit bubble bath with rose petals lovingly scattered all around. I was in heaven. The only thing I needed before climbing into the king-sized bed was to soak in a bubble bath and I could do exactly that.
After being woken with a toddlers asking to watch Dora for the last year, it was quite amazing being woken by the sounds of birds for once. We took our time getting ready for breakfast (eating AGAIN) and made our way to the dining room. We ordered cappuccinos (again) and made our way lazily through the amazing breakfast spread.
By the time we left, I was so thoroughly relaxed (and well fed) and I had a renewed energy to take on the week ahead. I can really recommend a night at De Hoek for anyone needing some R&R away from the city. With being only an hour’s drive from both Pretoria and Johannesburg there really is no excuse. We were lucky enough to be driving the fabulous Land Rover Freelander for the weekend so our drive was made even more comfortable and luxurious. Michelle and Micheal Holenstein (owners of De Hoek) can be very proud of this beautiful country hotel and their staff. What an amazing experience it was.Alida Ryder