I researched and researched and came up with very few luxury getaway options close to JHB. I’ve already been to Kievits Kroon and Mount Grace, and Peebles in Dullstroom was fully booked. We were close to abandoning the idea, when finally all my Googling paid off and I found Wild Horses Mountain Lodge in Drakensberg, an easy 3.5 hours out of Jozi.
As soon as I saw the website I knew that was it. An exclusive hideaway (only 4 rooms), situated on the edge of a cliff. And it didn’t disappoint at all- it was absolutely magical. I left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
We left Jozi after 3pm so it was dark by the time we arrived and we immediately settled into our room and freshened up. The room was comfortable and spotless, with all the finishes you’d need. The linen was heavenly- so soft!
After enjoying some pre dinner drinks in the lounge, we were told that we’d be having a private dinner in the wine cellar. It was lovely- romantic and intimate, and I was
pleasantly surprised by the food. I’ve learnt to manage my expectations when eating at hotels- the food usually doesn’t compare to that of good restaurants and I guess it’s a bit unfair to expect it to. The food at Wild Horses was exceptional- and the creme brulee was the best I’ve ever had in my life.
|Gorgeous wine cellar|
Dinner is a set menu and you don’t have any options. We found it quite refreshing to not have to think about what we were going to eat, but if you enjoy having pages and pages of options to choose your meal from, this might not be for you. The chef believes that by creating a set menu, he can focus on the dish completely and make it the best it can be. I completely buy into this- each and every one of our meals was bursting with flavour.
|Starter: sesame seed salmon with tortilla chips and a corn salsa- SO GOOD|
|Starter: blue cheese and pear springrolls with a red onion marmalade- love|
|Main: portuguese chicken|
|Dessert: the best creme brulee I’ve ever had|
After dinner, we were given 2 options for breakfast and were asked to pick one (hot options in addition to the normal continental selection.) We also had to inform the chef what time we were planning to eat breakfast. Although I do understand the motivation for this, after a 3 course dinner I didn’t really want to think about breakfast options and commit to getting up at a certain time 😉 To be fair, if I were running the place, I’d probably request the same. Because catering is done on such a small scale, it makes sense to have everything ready so that you can prepare breakfast quickly at the agreed time.
The continental selection is small but fresh, offering a yummy fruit salad, cereal and yoghurt. There was as much thought put into our hot breakfast as there was with dinner. My flapjack stack had toppled over by the time I took the pic below, but it was absolutely delicious.
|A fallen flapjack stack|
|Poached eggs with bacon, on a potato rosti|
|Jams and maple syrup- pretty, right?
Because we didn’t arrived at night, we were treated to an amazing view when we woke up. Just the sheer abundance of land, mountains and openness around us was breathtaking. It makes you realise how small and insignificant you, (and your problems) are when compared to how much else there is out there…
We decided to take a walk around the dam after breakfast, and we came across a herd of wildebeest! Rishav wanted to follow them but I was hesitant. We carried on walking and found the lodge’s horses happily munching grass. I was happier to get close to these 🙂 I loved the walk- we chatted, sat down by the lake, and trekked up the mountains. After lunch, it was time to just chill.
Originally designed as a private holiday house, Wild Horses is very homely and comforting. People who enjoy their privacy might not like the fact that there are many communal areas that you may need to share with others. This wasn’t an issue for us as the owners/managers and the other guests were all very friendly and we enjoyed chatting to them. There is quite a bit to do in and around the area so the other guests will most likely not be “in your face” all day- we had the sundeck to ourselves all of Saturday afternoon.
|Sundeck overlooking the dam|
|Sunset- a backdrop to the mountains|
The chef at Wild Horses also sees to the maintenance of the place, horse rides and boat rides. His wife is the general manager, and the 2 of them are made for the hospitality industry. They’re very warm without being fake or overbearing- and they both appear to be passionate about their jobs. The owner happened to be there as well during our stay and he too is very “hands on”. He helped us with our bags, gave us recommendations on where to walk, and I even saw him cleaning the pool. His pride in the Lodge is clear to see.
|Chef van Heerden hard at work in the kitchen|
Would I recommend Wild Horses? Definitely. Completely. It is exactly what us Joburgers need- a sanctuary away from everything- in the middle of nowhere. The scenery is so stunning, you won’t even have to leave the Lodge. It isn’t cheap- R2700 per couple per night, but this does include dinner which could easily cost R350 a head elsewhere. The rate includes breakfast as well. They often have specials, so you may get lucky and manage to book at a much cheaper rate.
|View of the lodge from the bottom of the cliff|
Visit www.wildhorses.co.za for more information.