We love to travel as a family to all our local gems, it is something we find great value in. Instead of jumping on a plane I feel like there are great options we have on our doorstep. We’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of KZN’s most beautiful resorts and hotels through my career as a journalist and more recently through my career as a blogger.
We were recently asked to visit Brahman Hills situated in Curry’s Post in the heart of the Midlands – one of my absolute favourite places to visit. I think it’s the culture that surrounds the Midlands Meander that I love so much. We always know we are in for a treat when we pack up and head to the Midlands for a little family weekend away.
I have to admit, I had seen Brahman Hills on a few of our meander visits and I never really gave it much thought. So, when we got invited I had no idea what to expect. Let’s just say my husband and I were blown out of the water!
Having evolved from the old Windmills hotel (prior to 2015) and having undergone an extensive renovation, Brahman Hills is truly an authentic country escape. It is a short 140km drive from Umhlanga and is literally a kilometre from the Nottingham Road offramp, next door to another one of our favourite Midlands stops, The Midlands Kitchen.
When driving through the gates of Brahman Hills, the culture around cattle is evident in the iron laser cutouts of the brahman cow surrounding the drive way into the property and the gates entering the 1000 hectare piece of land that is Brahman Hills in the Blue Crane Nature Reserve.
We parked our car and checked in at reception where we were not only greeted by the very friendly staff at the hotel and cottages but also their various feral cats who mingle around the entrance doors for warmth and love. They are all loved and part of the family so no longer feral. Needless to say Maddie was in her element and Brahman Hills had already made a good impression on her.
We were then given the keys to our self catering cottage as well as a map to navigate our way through the Blue Crane Nature Reserve. One thing that impressed me driving through the property was the magnitude of the establishment. There is a hotel or self-catering accommodation available, along with a range of destination venues including two restaurants; 89 on Copper and Brahman Hills Cafe, coffee bar, eventing venues for weddings and conferences which can seat up to 400 people, a cellar and underground bar. My appetite was wet to experience all that this gem of a destination had to offer.
Pulling up to our cottage, the Oribi Cottage, a one sleeper with the most spectacular views on the Blue Crane Nature Reserve home to abundant wildlife including zebra and various buck. Talk about wildlife literally on our doorstep! Who would have thought!
Feeling right at home the moment we walked through the door, with a parking bay right at our door (which really helps when travelling with a toddler and all the goodies they require) we felt like we had our own little country home in the most tranquil surroundings, far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city!
The perfect mix of modern comfort with rustic charm, the rooms are truly designed to be a home away from home. The cottage is comfortably appointed with a fully kitted kitchen with everything you need to cook a meal, a lounge and dining area, full DSTV and a cozy fireplace to cuddle up in front of on cold winter nights (which we did even though it is Summer here in Durban) and for the the warmer summer months, cool off in the outdoor jacuzzi (which we also did and LOVED) on own private deck fully-equipped with a braai and al fresco dining area. Best part is the room is serviced every day and they take care of everything from making the beds to washing the dishes… bliss!
Needless to say it didn’t take us long to unpack the car, get into our cozzies and make ourselves at home in the jacuzzi! Even Maddie enjoyed the view and seeing the animals in the far distance! Maddie and I took a walk around our cottage and found some really gorgeous flowers and scenery around the property.
We lit up a casual braai at around 5pm on our private deck and enjoyed a meal in the dining area before bathing Maddie and putting her into the cot that the hotel had set up in our room. After she went down my husband, Brett and I put our feet up, had a glass of wine and took advantage of quietness and of course our private jacuzzi.
Falling asleep was an ease on our super comfortable king size bed equipped with an electric blanket (cause the temp dropped that night) and we got to use our room heater too.
Maddie funny enough slept in and only woke up at 7am the next morning. Probably because of the block out curtains and the quietness of the reserve. Then we were up and made breakfast in our pajamas (cause why not) and enjoyed it as a family in our dining room before getting ready to hit the Midlands Meander.
I admittedly packed very lightly as when I packed our bags it was a good 30 plus degrees in Durban and I really didn’t expect it to be so cold (which we actually enjoyed for a change) so we tried to stay indoors as much as possible for Maddie’s sake so we did a few stop offs on the Meander at the Junction and Brett’s favourite coffee roasters, Terbodore Coffee to enjoy a cuppa and slice of cake.
THE MIDLANDS KITCHEN
We then stopped off to have lunch at our ‘must stop off at’ stops, The Midlands Kitchen for some flavoursome food! For those who haven’t heard of The Midlands Kitchen before, it is off the N3 Nottingham Road off ramp and is truly a one stop dinning experience. You get to watch expert chefs working in 15 kitchens, including Mexican, mediterranean, burgers, chicken, pizza, Indian and vegan to name a few all delivering over 135 tastes. If artisan fresh meals are your thing then you are in for a treat! It is both a kid and pet-friendly dining destination, ideal for the stop off motorists or as a destination visit.
There is so much to love about The Midlands Kitchen, from the variety and flavours of the food to the child friendliness of the venue. There are several play areas with jungle gyms for the kids to play on and various high chair options for the babies to choose from. Plus there is a cute colouring page on the menu for them to enjoy.
You have an option of walking around the various stations and ordering as you go or you can sit in the waitron service area where you are given a menu to choose from, from the various sections. Since we weren’t passing through we decided to sit down and enjoy a meal as a family.
I ordered myself a delicious freshly squeezed juice from Juice Brew. The juices are made to order and are made from fresh fruit and vegetables that are sourced locally from organic farms. You can either select one from the menu or build your own juice with various options to add into the mix. I decided to try their ‘decalcifying’ juice called the Kamberg which had pineapple, celery, apple and lime which is said to be rich in vitamin C. It was really refreshing!
Brett being the coffee lover he is, decided to order an Americano coffee and we ordered Maddie a gelato milkshake from Wild Child Gelato. To say it is the creamiest, smoothest and most silky milkshake I have tried, is an understatement. Made from real Italian gelato… let’s just say Maddie won this round and was not prepared to share her winning drink!
We then ordered Maddie a pizza from the authentic artisan wood fire pizza kitchen, Mama Stellino. The girl loves her pizza! With so many delicious options to choose from, we chose The Turin which was filled with yummy toppings including; steak, peppers, onion marmalade, shredded beef and coriander. The thin crust pizza was packed with flavour and Maddie enjoyed it.
I couldn’t decide whether to to try the falafel salad bowl or a shawarma from the shawarma bar at the Falafel and mediterranean kitchen. The few times we have visited The Midlands Kitchen I have so often wanted to try the falafel salad but haven’t so this time I decided to order both and whatever I didn’t finish – Maddie would eat it for dinner.
I am a huge fan of salads and boy the falafel salad didn’t disappoint! The healthy bowl consisted of freshly made falafels, chickpeas, quinoa, hummus, cucumber, tomatoes, locally sourced feta cheese (YUM), lettuce and barley. Believe it or not – this only costs R65! A steal for the size of the portion. Full of flavour and so fulling!
My shawarma was also delicious filled with mediterranean flavour with the marinated chicken and vegetables in the homemade hollow pitta bread, how did it compare to the salad? The salad wowed me more than the shawarma did – but that is probably because I am a salad queen!
Brett went for a burger from The Burger & Butcher authentic organic burger kitchen. If you enjoy a good burger – this is a must try. Their variety of burgers on the menu is super impressive! Brett went for The Giant’s Burger which was a 200g burger patty with red onion marmalade served with sweet potato fries. Let’s just say he licked his fingers clean!
As much as we wanted to squeeze in dessert, we didn’t have the space and left feeling super impressed by our visit to The Midlands Kitchen. The service is excellent, the food is so full of flavour and the ingredients are fresh – just an all round great visit!
BRAHMAN HILLS SPA
By the time we had got back to our cottage it was time for me to have some much deserved and needed ‘me time’ at the Brahman Hills onsite spa.
WOWZERS! Let me just start by saying – I have been fortunate enough to visit quite a few spas in my life time and it isn’t often I am totally left in awe of a spa. I had an inkling when we drove into the property and saw the gorgeous spa from the road. The exterior and interior are just drop dead gorgeous!
The spa is fairly large and is made up of eight treatment rooms, a dedicated manicure and pedicure room, a tranquility lounge and a champagne, coffee and chocolate bar all perfectly complimented by a wonderful team of highly skilled therapists.
I decided I needed a 60 minute full body hot stone massage (seeing as if it was cold and rainy outside). With a large focus around massage with products that are sourced locally as well as being biodegradable, my treatment was heavenly. It was hard not to fall asleep on the table – which I couldn’t help but do, a couple of times. I honestly felt like a new woman when walking out of the treatment room and sat in the tranquility lounge waiting for my cup of tea. Large pull out chairs line several round window which look out to a wall of corrugated iron roof which a steam of water trickles down around a garden of lavender and flowers.
By the time I had got back to our cottage which was just a short walk away, Brett already had Maddie in the bath so I decided to jump in with her – I really couldn’t miss an opportunity to bath with my daughter in the most beautiful bath overlooking the most beautiful landscape. Talk about a dream bathroom!
89 on Copper
She was exhausted and went down with ease before Brett and I got ready to go to Brahman Hill’s onsite restaurant, 89 on Copper. They had organised a babysitter to come to our room to make sure Maddie stayed soundly asleep while we enjoyed some quality time together as husband and wife. Something that is so important to do!
We drove ourselves to reception where we were then lead to the restaurant 89 on Copper, in the wine cellar in the Barn situated at the hotel. Again we were in awe (this trip has honestly been filled with these wow moments), we have never seen such a beautiful unique dinning establishment of this sort. Seating a maximum of 26 people, the restaurant honestly gives you a feel of exclusivity and intimacy. Even though their were other people in the room, Brett and I felt like the only two people being served. The highlight for us was the chef’s selection menu (which is designed by their chefs and changes every night) a three course set menu with two options per serving. We were super impressed with the selection we had to choose from.
We had either a chicken caesar salad or butternut soup to choose from for starters. I of course went for the salad which had poached egg, croutons, parmesan and caesar dressing. The use of their in house vegetable gardens and range of organic and locally sourced produce was evident in my salad and both Brett’s choice of homemade butternut soup with crispy bacon and a freshly baked hot roll.
For mains we could choose between a thai green chicken and prawn curry or a beef fillet. We’d typically always choose a beef fillet over any other choice but we love a good curry so both decided to try the curry which was so flavoursome and perfectly paired with mango salsa, basmati rice and poppadum.
And to end off our meal on a sweet note, I had the Brahman Hills Malva with Bar One sauce and Brett chose the Strawberry Cheese cake with mango gel and wild berry coulis-compote. It honestly left us wanting more!
A truly amazing experience and we were shocked to see that the three course menu costs just R250 a person! It was honestly a five star dining experience! The food is rustic, real and beautifully presented.
Waking up on our last day we were sad to leave this piece of paradise but we knew their was light at the end of the task of packing up and packing the car. We were being treated to breakfast at the Brahman Hills Cafe. A family friendly restaurant in the main barn situated at the hotel.
The cafe is home to breakfast (both a la carte and buffet), lunch (a la carte) and dinner (a la carte) with a kiddies menu to cater to all needs. They also cater for different requirements including: vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.
We chose to have choose something off the a la carte menu and were impressed by the selection we had to choose from. From homemade yoghurts and full breakfasts to sweeter options like pancakes there is something to suit everyones tastes.
Brett chose to have the Brahman Hills Breakfast which consisted of bacon, pork sausage, fresh potato hash browns, sautéed wild mushroom, confit cherry tomatoes and his choice of eggs served with toast. A classic and all round winner of the traditional take on breakfast.
I chose the Brahman French toast. Two slices of French toast made from homemade bread served with crispy oak smoked bacon and drizzled with maple syrup. So delicious!
Maddie had homemade berry pancakes served with fresh berries and a warm berry compote and creme fraiche which she throughly enjoyed. The average cost of a breakfast off the a la carte menu was around R60-R65 which is a steal for the quality and taste you are being served.
After we sat and enjoyed breakfast in front of the fire at the cafe we sadly checked out and promised we’d be back again! What a gem of a spot! We are so glad we discovered the establishment and got to experience all that it has to offer. It definitely comes highly recommended!
There are various different options to choose including a standard hotel room at R1,895 per room per night to a one bedroom for R1,117 per person per night sharing, ranging to a four bedroom at R750 per person sharing per night.
Disclaimer: Although my family and I were treated to the weekend at Brahman Hills all opinion and views on the establishment is my own and is in no way influenced.
All images are my own and were taken on our weekend at Brahman Hills.
http://www.brahmanhills.co.za | 033 266 6965 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Midlands Kitchen | 033 266 7046 | email@example.com | http://www.themidlandskitchen.co.za | N3 Exit 132, Nottingham Road
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