Tuesday, 27 November 2018

BRAHMAN HILLS - COUNTRY ESCAPE IN THE KZN MIDLANDS

When people think of KwaZulu-Natal they don't usually think of a holiday in the countryside. This often means they miss out on one of the best destinations in the province - the Midlands Meander. Nestled among the green, lush rolling hills of the Midlands is where you'll find Brahman Hills.



Where?

Previously the Windmills Hotel (But with a major facelift!), Brahman Hills is located in Nottingham Road (Between Mooi River and Howick), about 4.5 hours from Joburg and an hour and a half from Durban. Since it's just off the N3 you're able to easily get back on the road after your stay and to explore the rest of what the Midlands Meander has to offer. 






Facilities?

Brahman Hills isn't just any plain accommodation, the resort is located on a massive nature reserve, called the Blue Crane Nature Reserve (Which I explored only a part of on a 3 hour hike) and is filled with animals like eland, buck and even zebra. There are fine dining and casual dining options, a spa and wedding and conference venues. You also have the option between hotel rooms or self-catering cottages. 


The beautiful water feature outside reception



The chill area at the reception


Accomodation?

The hotel has 30 rooms and 12 self catering cottages that have either 3 or 4 rooms and can accommodate the whole family (Extended family too!). The hotel rooms are cozy and perfect for a short stopover especially if you need to get back on the road soon. However if you are in a big group, family or staying for a couple days, I would definitely recommend the self-catering cottages. 

Brahman Hills finds the balance between luxury and an authentic country experience and this is clearly evident in the luxurious yet homely self catering accommodation. I stayed in a self catering cottage called the Wildebeest. Each self-catering cottage is slightly different, and fully equipped with every single possible thing you need (Literally!) - WiFi, DSTV and has a luxurious outdoor area AND jacuzzi. Above all, one of my favourite things about Brahman Hills has to be the fireplace in the cottages - much needed on cold midlands days.


My Bedroom in the Wildebeest cottage

Chill time in my room
Bath time
The bathroom was seriously bathroom goals
Jacuzzi time

Food? 

My number one criteria to judge a place by - the food! Let's face it, we're all foodies nowadays. Who doesn't live to eat?! This is where Brahman Hills stole my heart. You have such different dining options. 

Firstly if you're staying in the cottages, you can cook your own food. The cottages are fully equipped with all the possible kitchen utensils and appliances you could possibly need - plates, cups, wine glasses, pots, toaster, kettle, fridges (Yes, plural!), microwave and more. But who really wants to cook their own food on holiday? You also have the option to get your own private chef to cook right there in your cottage. Now if that's not EXTRA, I don't know what is. If you want to keep it very South African, you can also have a braai. While these make for amazing experiences, you can also just order in room service from the hotel for a more casual meal at the dinner table in your cottage. 


My eggs benedict breakfast at the Agility Hub


Those are just the options you have if you want to dine in the comfort of your room. You also have other dining options in the hotel - namely 89 on Copper and Brahman Cafè. 

Brahman Cafè is the more casual option where you can enjoy breakfast (Buffet or a la carte), lunch and dinner (Only a la carte). I would consider Brahman Cafè as a mid-range restaurant that has amazing value for money meals. It's perfect for when you don't feel like cooking in the cottages or just want to have a chatty dinner with the girls (Or family meal). 


The Brahman Cafe
My dinner at the Brahman Cafe - Thai Duck curry


89 on Copper can best be described as luxurious and upmarket (And pretty darn fancy!). It's located in an underground wine cellar so of course it suited me perfectly. It has an intimate atmosphere with it's dark walls, enchanting music and stunning lighting. We did the food and wine pairing which was a chef's choice set menu, of which every single bite was an experience on its own. I would highly recommend 89 on Copper as a anniversary or birthday venue. It is open to both guests and visitors and can seat up to 26 (Bridal shower, maybe?).


The table setup at 89 on Copper

All the way down in the wine cellar

5 Courses to indulge in
It all began with this decadent starter
And constant rounds of champagne/wine
As if those options we're enough, you also have the option of The Midlands Kitchen, located right next to Brahman Hills (Read my The Midlands Kitchen review). Midlands kitchen consists of 15 different "kitchens" where you can order everything from authentic Italian pizzas to Durban "bunny chows". It is truly an immersive experience and suits every taste and palette. If you don't fancy the short walk or drive, you can also have your food from the Midlands Kitchen delivered to your Brahman Hill's cottage.


You can't go wrong with the midlands kitchen



Weddings?

Most people in KwaZulu-Natal know of Brahman Hills as a premier wedding destination. Everyone knows somebody who got married (Or will be getting married) in Brahman Hills. I've always wondered why it got this reputation - until the moment I saw the main chapel.

A breathtaking glass chapel overlooking a panoramic view of the lake and rolling hills, a feeling of serenity and awe inundates you. I honestly can't think of a better venue to say I do. As one of the few woman who haven't given much thought to their future big day, I can say it finally crossed my mind. The Glass House just behind the chapel can seat up to 380 meaning you can be the talk of the town and invite every body who's anybody or have a more intimate affair with 100 guests.


The Lake House chapel




This just in, a new wedding chapel is being built and will form part of the Agility Hub Conference and Wedding venue. This will mainly be used for smaller weddings. Take my word for it, the view from the new chapel of the winding hills is remarkable. 


Spa?

There's a profound saying I like to live by - TREAT YO' SELF. No wonder the Spa at Brahman Hills was the ultimate highlight for me! Personally I can be a bit reluctant of Hotel Spas as I generally find them to be simply an overpriced, "add on" facility that the property doesn't put much effort into (Okay, that's a lil savage but true).

But with the Brahman Hills spa, it was completely different. The spa has a phenomenal aesthetic - the rich blues and whites as well as elements of flowing water relax you and make you feel so at ease from the moment you enter.

We started off with a light lunch platter (Which you can book in advance). It's perfect if you're with a group of friends for an afternoon of relaxing treatments. I love that the platter included biltong - it doesn't get more South African than that.


Food! The light lunch platter at the Brahman Hills Spa


Next, we went downstairs to the treatment rooms. You can choose the essential oil infused salts and have a choice between rose geranium, tea tree and eucalyptus among others.  I started off with a full body massage and then a full body scrub. The masseurs is meticulous and pay so much attention to detail and give you a personalized experience that targets your problem areas. I was tense after a stressful week and the massage allowed my body to finally relax and ease up.

After the massage, was the sugar scrub and then 15 minute bath. I generally enjoy going for body scrubs because they leave my skin feeling soft and smooth afterwards. This is another way the Brahman Hill's spa attention to detail was evident - the attention to detail was amazing and left me feeling right at home. I ended off with a Gellish pedi.








Things to do in the Midlands?

I will do a Midlands Meander travel guide in future. For now, here are the highlights:



  • Visit Howick Falls, the 3rd highest waterfall in South Africa
  • Visit the Mandela Capture Site
  • Go shopping at Piggly Wiggly
  • Wine-tasting at Highgate Wine Estate
  • Experience the midlands coffee culture at the many coffee shops and cafès in the area
  • Visit Ardmore Ceramic Art shop


Brahman Hills is a truly magical country escape amidst the winding roads and green pastures of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. 



Disclaimer: I was hosted by Brahman Hills and Midlands Kitchen but all opinions expressed are my own.




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