The imposing wrought-iron gate swings open revealing an ivy-covered 19th century sandstone manor house. Already I am in love with this place. We park the car and head to reception. A knightly suit of armour guards the entrance where we are met by Byron, the ever-smiling Assistant Manager of Lords of the Manor, the boutique hotel where Gareth and I were to spend the Easter weekend. He hands us the keys to our room and we are led outside to the entrance of our suite.
To our great delight, we had been assigned the honeymoon suite for our stay. My jaw hangs open as I take in our accommodation. A small sitting room, complete with fireplace and silver tea service, opens up onto the luxurious bathroom with a two-person shower, a pedestal bathtub and soft his-and-hers bathrobes just waiting to be snuggled into. But the best was yet to come. The bedroom takes my breath away with its four-poster bed, stone fireplace and beautiful chandelier. This is so much better than I had expected!
We quickly stow our suitcases and head out to explore the grounds. The manor house is surrounded by tall trees and the ground is littered with pine needles. Doves are cooing and butterflies flit from flower to flower. I am in seventh heaven and could happily stay here forever. I can literally feel myself relax as I walk through the dappled light towards the small koi pond, my mind already buzzing with creative energy and plotting out scenes for the book that I’m writing.
Gareth beckons and I leave the woodlands behind and enter the old building. We explore the downstairs rooms – a cosy sitting room, the large dining hall, the bar, the reading room with its selection of board games and finally the back veranda where, to my great delight, we find tea and scones waiting for us. I greedily pick the crumbs off my plate before regretfully leaving the desserts behind to explore further.
Down the pathway, past the lavender garden and on the other side of the tall oak trees is the wedding chapel. The doors are locked, but we peer through the windows. There is a lone tree on the hill behind it and we walk up to it and sit at the picnic table underneath its large boughs. We can see for miles and miles – the lakes and horses of the farm next door, the road meandering across the Midlands. This is a place where you can just sit and soak up nature and forget about everything else.
As the sun sets we return to our room and dress up for dinner, a semi-formal event that gives a whole new meaning to my idea of fine dining. We are staying on a full-board basis, and we intend to take full advantage of that. Starter, main course and a delectable dessert later, we know that this weekend will turn out to be a culinary delight – I can honestly say it was the most delicious meal I had ever had.
We take the short walk back to our suite, gazing up at the stars sparkling brightly in the cold, clear skies, before snuggling up in the huge bed with the crackling fire casting the room in a warm reddish glow.
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with this hotel in any way, we just really loved our stay there! Their long weekend specials are highly recommended as great value for money and I think this might be one of those places that we may return to year after year.
Labels: Africa, Midlands Meander, South Africa