The Midlands

The KZN Midlands is a short four hour drive from Joburg but as soon as one passes through Van Reenen you’ll immediately feel like you’re in another world. A world often shrouded in mist, green rolling hills…and more antique shops than your heart desires, or is it my heart that desires that? Either way The Midlands is the perfect escape for Joburgers, Durbanites and anyone close enough to make the drive worthwhile for the weekend.

While being in close proximity to Johannesburg is definitely a plus, the Midlands is perfect, because it’s always perfect! If you’re heading through in Winter what could be better than catching a little snowfall, moving from coffee shop to coffee shop as you explore The Meander, and of course spending your evenings curled up in front of a crackling fire. Similarly, if you’re planning a trip during the warmer months, chances are you’ll find yourself going on long hikes, sipping G&T’s at Blueberry Cafe and spending long evenings under the stars…possible still sipping on a G&T!

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Midlands fairly regularly over the past few years but on my last trip I discovered Brahman Hills. I’ll go into a little more detail about the property itself in a bit but the first thing that struck me about Brahman Hills was that it’s a place you want to share. While I’m sure going away for a romantic weekend would be really great Brahman Hills is the type of place you want to take seven of your good friends and spend the weekend laughing, hopping in and out of the jacuzzi and eating great food.

I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say that as soon as school is over you realise you actually have to make an effort to see your friends. Then when varsity is over and ‘real life’ kicks in it becomes even harder. Weekends away and stolen moments around the dinner table become that much more precious and you really learn to appreciate your friends.

Getting There

If you’re heading to Brahman Hills from Johannesburg the drive is relatively simple, if you’re travelling at night or in the early morning the roads can be a little sketchy and often misty so keep your eyes peeled.

Take the N3 and just keep going, it’s as simple as that! There are tolls along the way so if you’re on a budget don’t forget to factor those in.

Brahman Hills 

Brahman Hills is a couple minutes drive from the N3 but don’t worry you won’t know it as soon as you pass through the main gate, the property is incredibly tranquil and forces to you relax almost immediately. Brahman Hills is inside the Blue Crane Nature Reserve so don’t be surprised when you’re greeted by a herd of Zebra and of course the beautiful Brahman Cows.

The property is big enough to go hiking on and is split into three main sections, the hotel and venue, the cottages and the spa.

Brahman Hills has a hotel and self catering units/cottages. While the hotel itself is beautiful and well thought out, if you’re going with a group of friends for the weekend you’re going to want to book yourself into one of their self catering units.

Each cottage is incredibly beautiful design and decorated, with a full stocked kitchen, ensuite bathrooms, and most importantly a jacuzzi on the deck. What could be more beautiful than sitting in a jacuzzi, watching the sun go down over the Drakensburg while Brahman Cattle graze on your doorstep? Nothing that’s what!

The Food

I’m not usually swayed by ‘hotel food’ I’m not sure what happens in hotel kitchen but so often it all tastes the same and a little like it’s made from plastic. Can someone please explain to me how you mess up scrambled eggs? Conversely, Brahman Hills offers nothing like your run of the mill hotel restaurant food. It’s Gourmet, considered and beautifully presented.

I’d definitely recommend visiting the Meander, but if you were to decided to not leave Brahman for the entire weekend you wouldn’t have slim pickings. In total Brahman Hills has restaurants and bars

89 On Copper: 89 On Copper is Brahman’s premium dining option and is situated underneath the hotel in an old wine cellar. There’s a bar, dining area and even the option of an intimate private dining experience. 89 ON Copper offers a la carte menu and a Chef’s Selection menu (go with the Chef’s selection, trust me) , they also have an incredible wine list.

Brahman Cafe: The Cafe is where you’ll find yourself eating breakfast and lunch while staying at Brahman Hills. While it’s not exclusively Gourmet the menu is still vast and after trying almost anything on it it’s still the type of place where you’ll have a memorable meal.

The Stables Restaurant: The Stables Restaurant probably has the best view of all the restaurants and cafes on the property and is in the same building as the Brahman Hills Conference Centre. It’s only open by arrangement but perfect if you’re celebrating something special and you want your own space to do it in!

The Midlands Kitchen: The Midlands Kitchen was still in the finishing stages when I visited but has since opened. While I didn’t get to experience it the Midlands Kitchen was built to offer travellers a better alternative to the usual fast food options while on the road. Using a market-style concept, The Kitchen offers Mexican, Mediterranean and Indian food, burgers, pies, vegan treats, baked goods, a harvest table, wood-fired pizzas, gelato and much more. To read more about it click here.

The Spa

It’s torture writing about the spa at Brahman Hills from the confines of my study, but my current setting just makes me want to go back even more. The Spa is one of the defining features of the property and offers massages, relaxing body scrubs and the usual manis, pedis and wxing. Even if you’re not saying at Brahman Hills I’d really recommend booking yourself a treatment at the spa. Check out the full spa menu here.

Activities in and around Brahman Hills

As I mentioned Brahman Hills is in the Blue Crane Reserve, the reserve is massive and has recently mapped out a series of hiking and running trails. I’d really recommend taking a few hours to explore the surrounds and just take in the sheer beauty of the area.

A visit to the Midlands would be wasted without a little Meander and exploring. Meander maps are available at reception but there are a number of online guides that are relatively easy to follow too.

Some of my favourite stops along the Meander are the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Blueberry Cafe, Cafe Bloom and the Vintage Trading Co.

Love The Midlands as much as I do? What would you recommend I do next time I visit? 

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