Right around the time that my Dad booked his trip to South Africa, I was offered the chance to spend a weekend at DeHoek Country Hotel — a five-star hotel and restaurant outside Magaliesburg. Perfect timing, I thought. Dad’s birthday fell on the last weekend of his visit and this would be a good way to celebrate.
Sam, the head waiter at DeHoek, walks out of the hotel’s main building. DeHoek is about an hour northwest of Joburg, near the Cradle of Humankind.
Another view of DeHoek.
Spending a weekend at a place like DeHoek is not the kind of thing that my dad and I would normally do together. Neither of us are especially classy.
Even the DeHoek parking lot is classy. The parking spots are demarcated by trees. Can you guess which car is mine?
But a weekend at DeHoek turned out to be the perfect end to a hectic, action-packed two weeks of gallivanting around South Africa. Dad and I settled right into the routine at DeHoek. I guess we’re classier than we thought.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and were shown to our spacious, traditionally furnished suite. Dad was impressed by the bathroom, which was nearly as large as my bedroom at home. I was excited by the balcony.
Gourmet coffee and biscuits overlooking the countryside.
After unloading and relaxing, we took a stroll around the property. The DeHoek gardens are beautiful and immaculate. Apparently there are hiking trails too, although I never found them.
Pretty flowers by the fish pond.
Cosmos flowers in an open field, which I found the next morning while looking (unsuccessfully) for the hiking trails. I did encounter a skittish horse in the field, who acted as if he’d never seen a hotel guest in his territory before. I guess DeHoek is meant for relaxing, not hiking.
We walked past Poloko, the DeHoek security guard, near the hotel parking area.
“Are you protecting us from all the criminals?” I jokingly asked Poloko.
“No,” said Poloko without smiling. “From the monkeys.”
Dad and I headed back to the suite and spent some time trying (unsuccessfully) to photograph the local troupe of vervet monkeys as they scampered about in the twilight. Then Dad took a nap and I took a shower in the beautiful bathroom. I wasn’t really dirty but figured what the heck. The soap smelled like peppermint.
Soon it was time for dinner.
I hadn’t done much research on DeHoek beforehand so I didn’t realize we were about to eat at one of the best restaurants in South Africa. If I had known was what coming I would have fasted for a week before we came.
We ate two dinners and two breakfasts during our stay at Dehoek. We were supposed to have lunch too but I had no space in my stomach for lunch (which is saying something because I don’t really skip meals).
The five-course dinners took my breath away. Here are a few photos of the things we ate for dinner.
Course #1. Canapés: Mini vegetable rissoles and Waldorf salads. Take a look at the place setting — there ten pieces of silverware. I like a little pomp and circumstance but this was a bit ridiculous. At one point I shoved all the cutlery into a pile off to the side when arranging a photo, confounding the waiter who brought the next course. He wound up taking all the utensils away save one knife and fork, which was a relief.
Course #2. Starter: “Squid ink basmati rice with calamari in a fragrant spicy Thai style coconut sauce”.
Another starter: “Twice baked Gorgonzola soufflé with micro greens and Continental leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar reduction and olive oil”.
Course #3. Mango sorbet (to cleanse the palette, of course).
Course #4. Main: “Roast herb rubbed rack of lamb served with ratatouille, new potato sauté and rosemary sauce”.
Another main: “Sauteed five spice duck served with stir fry vegetables and noodles with sweet and sour sauce”.
Course #5. Dessert: “Chocolate fondant served with vanilla ice cream”.
The menu description of the above dessert does not do it justice. I pierced the delicate cake with my spoon and molten chocolate poured out, mixing with the edible cup of homemade ice cream. I devoured it all in less than five minutes even though I was already full. Dad and I agreed it was one of the most spectacular desserts we’ve ever eaten.
Breakfast was good too.
“Huevos rancheros: chili beans, chorizo, poached egg and tomato salsa.”
There were other good things about staying at DeHoek. We played croquet. We received candy on our pillows at night. I had a relaxing pedicure. Our bathroom was cleaned several times a day. (Or so it seemed. Every time I used a towel it was miraculously replaced with a fresh one within 30 minutes. Bad for the environment but strangely enjoyable.)
But in my mind our stay at DeHoek was about the food. The food — especially that molten chocolate dessert — is what I’ll remember.
Also, the DeHoek staff somehow knew it was Dad’s birthday and brought him a mini red velvet cake on Sunday morning. We really didn’t need more food, but it made Dad happy.
Happy birthday, Dad.
Thanks to the people at DeHoek for giving us a great stay. My stomach is still recovering.
DeHoek isn’t cheap but it’s a great place to go if you’re looking to splash out and escape the Jozi rat race for a couple of days. The lodging rates are here. The restaurant is open to the public for lunch and dinner. Dinner costs R380 (about $40) per person, which is totally worth it.
I’m classy like that.