At the end of May, we embarked on a sneaky weekend getaway to Misty Hills Country Hotel, Conference Centre & Spa in the Cradle of Humankind, just 40 minutes out of Johannesburg in Muldersdrift. In South Africa, we refer to short getaways in close proximity or around our country as i-Sho’t Left. “Sho’t left” is the term used by commuters in taxis to signal to the driver that they will be disembarking almost immediately on the left side of the road.
Life has been so hectic lately and I needed a break to re-strategize and gather myself. I also needed to sleep. It’s weird how much we crave to rest and relax, but seldom do so in the comfort of our homes.
We left for Muldersdrift on Friday evening after a hectic afternoon of dealing with issue after issue in our work. We had hoped to leave Sandton around 3pm, but we had some damage control to do first. We arrived there around 19:30, checked in and then had to trawl our luggage all the way from the communal car park to our rooms (NOT IDEAL). My bag was heavy, and so was everything else we had to carry between the two of us. Argh. By the way, at the realization of this, my partner and I were quite irritated but in a “let’s just take what we need for tonight” manner because it was dark and not well lit as we walked in the garden path. Lesson of the day: don’t arrive late. I knew immediately that the gardens would fascinate me the next day, but as we got into our African-safari inspired and decorated room, we got into bed and settled for a movie and an early night. The decor was very minimalist, but I liked it either way. It had a rustic, not old, feel to it. I found the spear and shield lighting features quite creative and they sparked a project idea.
As the morning light crept into our room, I was up: ready to take on the day and spend it exploring our surroundings. I’m a sucker for a resort or hotel that doesn’t make its guests leave to explore the area, but rather allows one to spend a weekend tucked away comfortably in its confines with all we need. Also, how cute is my little blue dress?
Where luxury, tranquility and hospitality meet
Accommodation at Misty Hills is the last word in comfort and elegance. Each of our 195 stone-built thatched rooms and suites is furnished to complement the indigenous surroundings and lavishly decorated with brightly coloured African fabrics, artworks and handmade furniture. Our Royal and Presidential suites each have enclosed walled-in gardens and plunge pools, offering the discerning guest total privacy, luxury and exclusivity. (Recreation Africa)
First up, breakfast, more like brunch: the most important meal of the day. We pigged out. A plethora of various foods from American to Thai to Indian styles of breakfast options available. Nonetheless, I settled for a bowl of fruit; an omelette and some sides; pancakes; and coffee. By the way, I’m one of those people who is undeservingly confident in my ability to finish a full plate of food. I think I love food so much, that it often overwhelms me and I end up tasting everything, but eating only 3/4. Or maybe the problem is the massive servings we have become accustomed to in the 21st century. The service was good and the guest liaison, Nicole, was there and paid ample personal attention to each guest.
Next up, a photo opp in the gardens and exploration of the hotel. They have points of interest all across the hotel, and we made sure to see some of them. We began to take a walk to the spa to have a look, but then we decided it was driving distance and gave up soon after. We familiarized ourselves with the beautiful lush gardens with lots of ivy ponds. And then by some unlucky turn, we ended up at the bar. We spent the afternoon overlooking the splash pond with some delicious cocktails and lots of moments taking pictures, laughing and sharing stories.
And then a late afternoon nap ensued. We had made dinner reservations at Carnivore Restaurant so we decided to skip lunch, although we were quite full from breakfast.
The property boasts the world-famous Carnivore Restaurant, where diners can feast on up to 10 different types of game meats. (Recreation Africa)
At 19:30, we were ready to tear up the place. We arrived ready to demolish that game. It was like a crescendo of the full orchestra classical rendition of the Pink Panther theme song into a whiff of smoke of a vacuum of nothingness. It sounds a little dramatic, but the service was awful.
My partner is often chilled in restaurant settings and does not take my complaining very seriously, but in this circumstance, even he was irritated. They took long to seat us as if they were not expecting us to honour our reservation; there were hundreds of patrons (read: tourists) being housed; the board menu (there aren’t singular menus) was not explained to us; we did not know the order process; our pap was not brought to us after asking twice; we had numerous waiters and long breaks in being attended to for drinks and in the end we did not know who to call on when we required assistance. The service there is a mess. Know and accept this before going there. It’s like a night time food market in Bangkok – everyone is super busy or disinterested or confused or all of the above.
They started us off with a tasty soup and brought a serving tray with salads and meat sauces to complement the main. Pap was also meant to be served (refer to the rant above for the juicy details). Apparently we were also meant to have baked potato… but alas. The game, however was lovely. Most of it. Carvers walk around and offer the patrons a variety of meats from their piping hot spears. It’s all you can eat and boy did we get full really fast. I didn’t take to the zebra, it was dry and crusty and tough. It had no fat. It was boring to the tongue. What a waste. The gemsbok was by far the most delicious of the options – really succulent and tasty. The crocodile tasted like chicken, but was also very fatty and succulent; and it fell off the fleshy bones. The beef was absolutely delicious, as beef should be. The ostrich was also lovely; the kudu meatballs were okay. There were about ten different kinds of meat. In the end we began to get confused – all the options tasted and looked the same. We then shared a dessert and left, oompa loomping to the car and finally, into bed in a nearly comatose state.
Would we go back? Nah, probably not. We expected the world: Carnivore sells itself as the rustic upmarket experience for the African taste adventurer. Did we enjoy the African drums and the invitation to patrons to join in on the set? Yeah, sure. Was it a little cliche? Yep. Did we find it a little unkempt versus rustic? Yes. The lesson: it’s difficult to be focused on the experience while trying to serve hundreds of people.
I was up early the next day, as always. We got ready, had brunch then checked out. We went back to Carnivore to take some snaps of the walkway, they have a stunning walkway with bronze statues of African kings and queens; We then decided to go for a final drink before heading to explore some of the area. The bar staff was missing in action; they had none of the ingredients required in any of the drinks we wanted (the person in charge of the key was not yet at work – it was 1pm by the way); the cappuccino was cold… aaaargh at this rate we were super over the service. We drove to the spa and spent an hour in their beautiful garden with lots of daybeds and a wonderful heated pool. I think it’s only fair that we return for a wonderful spa day for our birthdays in September. Hopefully the service we receive there will salvage our in-house service experience at Misty Hills.
After leaving Misty Hills, we spent the afternoon at the Tsogo Sun’s Silverstar Casino having pub grub and watching Formula One at Publicity Bar and Grill. They too did not have fresh mint leaves for their mojitos. The front of house looked disinterested and told us she was not in charge of taking orders and would send someone to our table, which she did not. We moved to the bar and found the bartender taking an interest in making our stay comfortable: the only great service we had received at an eatery.
And that’s all folks.