De Hoek Country Hotel, MagaliesburgOn a rainy day, the imposing stone mansion De Hoek standing in misty isolation looks like a scene from Wuthering Heights.
Fortunately all eerie images are dispelled the moment you step through its heavy wooden doors. Warmth envelopes you, friendly staff materialise, and the only evil spirits are those waiting in the cosy bar.
De Hoek Country Hotel is in the Magaliesburg and its perfect for a weekend away from Joburg – or even just for a Sunday lunch in the country.
This 5-star hotel features several buildings that look tastefully old despite being deceptively new, so the olde worlde atmosphere is rich with modern comforts.
Above a central dining room is a minstrel’s gallery with a small library and a bedroom in each wing. Another dining room and a large lounge lead onto terraces, and there’s a swimming pool, two conference centres and 16 bedrooms.
Our bedroom had delicious under carpet heating, a desk and a large TV where I watched a DVD as the thunderous sky darkened completely. We prepared to dash through the rain from our room to dinner in the manor house, but an umbrella was thoughtfully waiting for us on the doormat.
The food is one of De Hoek’s main attractions, with lavish, leisurely five-course dinners that start with a trio of imaginative canapés while you peruse the menu.
A substantial starter of snails and mushrooms in red wine almost filled me even before the beautifully cooked main course of sea bass in an olive and coriander coating. With a sorbet in between I had to admit defeat, but still tested the trio of crème brûlées my partner chose for dessert.
Breakfast is equally lavish, with a generous buffet and interesting options like poached eggs on a bowl of spicy beans and chorizo.
You can also dine at The Bridge Bistro, with modern and masculine décor and a menu that has several tempting choices for each course, like confit of baby chicken with crispy onion and couscous or steak au poivre and fat chips.
De Hoek Country House, Bekker School Road, off the R24, Magaliesburg. Details from www.dehoek.com.