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Magaliesberg Escape

Joburgers often complain that there's nowhere within driving distance for a quick weekend getaway. One friend went so far as to say that the city is surrounded by a two-hour 'Ring of Ugly', that in order to get somewhere worthwhile you need to travel well past that barrier. I'm glad to say that a recent trip to De Hoek Country Hotel in Magaliesberg proved this notion wrong. Just an hour away from Johannesburg, De Hoek is hidden in the heart of the Magaliesberg Meander, and is a blissfully isolated retreat situated conveniently close to both Joburg and Pretoria. When you drive through the gates, a windy path at first hides the extent of the estate. But then you pass a bubbling creek and around the bend a vista of rolling lawns, which wouldn't look out of place beneath an English castle, opens up in front of you. It's at this point that you really shed the city. De Hoek is a remarkable city escape for several reasons. For the more active, there are a host of activities in the area, such as guided mountain and river walks, hot air ballooning, gliding, horse riding, game drives and more. But what I loved about it, is that you don't have to leave the estate at all. A gorgeous swimming pool, wellness spa, fine dining and the aforementioned rolling lawns combine to make outings seem something of a task. The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly chef Michael Holenstein's dinner. A five-course meal set with crystal and silver more than justified Michael's nomination as one of the top 10 chefs in South Africa last year. The Swiss-born chef has perfectly blended South African and European tastes, creating a menu that is inspired in both its conception and presentation. The duck with orange sauce was a marvel, managing to be incongruously light and fresh while bristling with flavour. And my sweet tooth was more than indulged with the trio of desserts, that included a champagne jelly I have sworn to go back for. If you're looking for a short weekend break, De Hoek is an ideal option. Close to the city, with a beautiful setting, great rooms and outstanding food, it offers the perfect escape to the countryside, coupled with just the right touch of luxury. De Hoek would like to extend a 10 per cent discount on their Bed & Breakfast rate per person to all House and Leisure readers. To book, call 014-577-9600 or email  Reservations@dehoek.com. For more info visit their website at dehoek.com Text: Roberta Coci, Images: Supplied