Birthday Celebration in the Lap of Luxury

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 and house

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.

DeHoek house

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.

cars

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.

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.

purple flowers

Pretty flowers by the fish pond.

cosmos

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.

canapes and cutlery

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.

calamari

Course #2. Starter: “Squid ink basmati rice with calamari in a fragrant spicy Thai style coconut sauce”.

cheese souffle

Another starter: “Twice baked Gorgonzola soufflé with micro greens and Continental leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar reduction and olive oil”.  

sorbet

 Course #3. Mango sorbet (to cleanse the palette, of course).

lamb chops

Course #4. Main: “Roast herb rubbed rack of lamb served with ratatouille, new potato sauté and rosemary sauce”.

duck breast

Another main: “Sauteed five spice duck served with stir fry vegetables and noodles with sweet and sour sauce”.

molten chocolate

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

“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.

Dad birthday cake

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.

DeHoek shoes

I’m classy like that.

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19 Comments

  • Reply Fiver March 18, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Wow. Must take Stuart there for his birthday. Don’t tell him 🙂

  • Reply eremophila March 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I’m really glad you got a chance to be pampered Heather, and wow, yes that food is making me hungry! I agree, there’s something very special about fresh towels all the time 🙂

    • Reply 2summers March 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Yeah. I felt a little guilty about it but was hard-pressed to complain.

  • Reply Jeroen March 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Ooh, forgot all about that place, I visited for lunch one afternoon after visiting Sterkfontein, had a great time.

    • Reply 2summers March 19, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Yes, it’s a perfect lunch stop after a visit to the Cradle.

  • Reply Justcallmegertie March 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Looks lovely! Good one to put on the Sunday drive-out lunch list!

    • Reply 2summers March 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      Definitely. I heard the Sunday lunch is great.

  • Reply Eugenia Parrish March 19, 2013 at 1:16 am

    That food looks spectacular, and yes, I love the view. Maybe I’ll put this place on my bucket list, although time is getting short and the list is already too long!

    • Reply 2summers March 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      I know what you mean. I find the concept of a bucket list very frustrating, for exactly that reason.

  • Reply Meruschka March 20, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Sounds amazing! You deserve to be spoilt sometimes 🙂

    • Reply 2summers March 20, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Thanks. You’re absolutely right!

  • Reply Rebecca March 23, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Gorgeous – and delicious! What a lovely way for your dad to spend his bday.

  • Reply tomorrowslices March 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

    De Hoek is fantastic – I wholeheartedly agree with you about the food – it is amazing.

    • Reply 2summers March 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      That’s cool that you’ve been there too!

  • Reply rustic decorating ideas March 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

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  • Reply Tereza Botha April 6, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Hey, my favourite pic; the food looks delicious…but the best for me is the parking lot…i love it…
    It doesn’t matter what car we drive, it’s the passion for life that should take us places, no what we drive…. 🙂

    • Reply 2summers April 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Right on! Glad you like it Thereza.

    • Reply 2summers April 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Sorry, Tereza!

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