Beautiful Brahmans, warm beds and spa spoils were what made a winter weekend unforgettable in the Midlands

What strikes you most strongly about Brahman Hills is the stillness of the surrounding environment even though it is situated close to the busy N3 highway to Durban.

It’s a stone’s throw from the Nottingham Road turn-off from the N3, so I expected to hear the busy roar of the heavy trucks driving towards the port of Durban, but instead there was nothing but blissful country quiet.

We stayed in one of their self-catering units – Eland cottage – for a few days of relaxing and pampering. Rising early one morning to catch the sunrise I heard only the gentle chirp of birdlife and the crunch as I crossed the crisp white frosty grass.

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I sat quietly focusing my camera on the pink sunrise but I was not the only one awake

I accidentally disturbed a pair of hadedas eating their breakfast. They were digging deeply into a fresh pile of cow dung looking for a snack. Alarmed by my intrusion, they flapped away with their loud honking. But even as the silence was shattered it was a blissful scene.

On one side a peaceful winter landscape interrupted by small farm dams and on the other side a forest – typical of the area. Dotted over the hills are the Brahman cattle gently grazing. Their distinctive humped necks and dappled hides are a wonderful sight for city folks. You may also see the zebra family that wanders around the estate or spot a few of the duikers or eland.

People tend to think winter is the time for hibernating at home but it would be a pity to miss out on the serenity and great accommodation rates available to those who are prepared to wander away for a winter breakaway.

Brahman Hills offers thirty standard hotel rooms and they also have a few self-catering cottages for families or friends who wish to enjoy the space and freedom. These cottages are favourites for the guests who come to attend weddings at the stylish chapel overlooking the fields and dam.

Self-catering cottages

The self-catering cottages, named after the local wildlife, are warm, comfortable and have been created using the original farm cottages that were part of the cattle farm. Ours was a retro house with wooden floors, corrugated iron roof and wooden paneled walls.

The overall aesthetic of Brahman Hills is to blend the traditional appeal of a rustic farm setting with cutting edge modern contrasts. Rusty corrugated sheets from sheds have been repurposed as fences and old wagon wheels are strategically placed to add to the décor.

The interior of the cottages is modern and comfortable and there is no hint of the winter chill as a warm fire was lit in the evening and the luxury beds are topped with warm duvets and electric blankets.

A group of us piled into the jacuzzi on the wooden deck for sundowners on the first evening and it felt decadently delicious to sip champagne as we watched the sun go down. Girl talk and chitchat is so much better when the bubbles are flowing and the warm air rising. It was a tough decision to get out of the tub and wander to the main hotel for a delicious three-course meal .

They offer to deliver restaurant meals to the cottages for those who are too lazy to cook, but we wanted to explore the hotel. Previously known as The Windmills, the hotel was revamped and re-launched in 2016 – it has been upgraded and renovated in style.

It is a perfect option for couples wanting a country wedding with style

Offering accommodation, style and all the trimmings, this is a great venue. The food is delicious and served with elegant panache.

I tucked into a tasty meal of lamb chops basted with harissa marinade and served with tempura veg. It was delicious. They grow many of their vegetables in the hotel garden, where you can see the roosters parading around their turf.

 

 

Wedding Decor Porn

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In the foyer of the hotel you may spot a few of the unofficial hotel residents – cats – who are under the illusion that the hotel belongs to them. They stretch and curl up on the chairs in the cappuccino café enjoying the warmth of the fires and they often get tickles from cat-loving guests.

The Brahman Hills Spa is perfect for a few hours of pampering. You could go for a few hours of walking in the Blue Crane Nature Reserve to spot the wildlife and build up a sweat and then relax in total luxury. The spa has been designed with the views in mind. Porthole windows offer amazing views of the countryside and the entrance to the spa is surrounded by perfumed lavender and pretty flowers.

If you book the spa for a group or want to pamper your bridal party then you get the whole shebang – champagne and delicious healthy snacks served in the separate bridal suite, as they explain the treatments on offer.

Aromatherapy smells waft through the air, enticing you

Soft hands and voices are the signature of the professional beauty team that works there. For a few delicious hours you can escape from the world and cocoon yourself in body pampering.

You can choose from a range of beauty treatments and they have eight treatment rooms for friends or a bridal retinue who can be pampered and enjoy the experience together.

Once you feel beautified and relaxed you can choose to eat dinner in one of three restaurants at the hotel. My favourite is 89 on Copper. Situated underneath the foyer in the basement, the designer has used shiny copper pipes as accents against the rustic stone and wooden textures. It feels like a secret, tucked away under the hub of the hotel.

Intimate eating space

It is an intimate space that oozes luxury and style, the perfect spot to have a birthday celebration, or even a great backdrop for a romantic proposal. It is also open to non-resident guests. Pairing their top wines with a three- or five-course meal is a treat. A simple mushroom soup starter was unforgettable, followed by a vegetarian lentil and chickpea cougette, and a tender  lamb shank. We ended our sumptuous supper with a chocolate brownie and meringue combo. After this veritable feast our tummies were full and the beds called.

Midlands Meander

If you feel like wandering around the Midlands Meander – the popular tourist route in the KZN Midlands Brahaman Hills is a perfect spot to use as a base. The Midlands Meander offers five different tourist routes to explore, each with its own unique attractions.

Some of the top spots are the Mandela Capture Site with its unique structure, and historic Fort Nottingham where the British troops squared off against the raiding Bushman who were excellent at stealing the farmers cattle.

Thirsty? Try the famous artisanal beer tasting at Rawdons, and shoppers must visit Piggly Wiggly or Tweedie Junction where some of the local artists sell their wares.  There are more than fifty local arts and crafts attractions in this country area and they are well worth discovering.

Brahman Hills is a classy addition to the attractions in the Midlands area and well worth a visit. Visit their website for rates and specials. www.brahmanhills.co.za

 

Fact file:

  • Brahman Hills offers accommodation in hotel rooms, B&Bs and self-catering cottages
  • Weddings are hosted in a waterside chapel and there are facilities for 180 guests at the reception
  • There is also a top-class spa venue for pampering, perfect for guests and also for bridal parties needing some spoiling
  • Guests can enjoy fine dining at the three restaurants on site
  • Conferences can be held at the hotel or in the Activity Hub
  • Guests in the self-catering cottages can order meals from the hotel or they can get takeaways from the nearby Midlands Kitchen complex which offers 16 different types of cuisine, at the Windmills Petrol Station
  • Brahman Hills is situated near Nottingham Road in the KZN Midlands