Escape to the Orient
No, you’re not going to have to get on a plane and face a long journey, because this Orient is in the Crocodile River Valley, just around the corner from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Imagine an Indian palace, with a touch of Moorish, even a Turkish minaret or 2, but the whole effect one of a vision straight out of Arabian Nights set in the middle of the African bush.
After a twisting drive through a wildlife nature conservancy, framed in the background by the Magaliesberg mountains, you’ll be greeted by rose-red towers, walls and battlements. This is the 5-star boutique Orient hotel, dream-child of Cobus and Mari du Plessis – an oasis of indulgence and beauty.
I’m staying overnight, and my bag is whisked off to the Rajasthan suite, where a huge 4-poster bed, a curtained, cushion-covered fretted alcove carved out of dark wood, handmade mirrors, old photographs of rajahs and princesses, brocade couches, and pieces collected from India over the years by the passionate owners refuse to let me believe I’m at the tip of Africa.
Or if you fancy an Ottoman palace, try the Constantinople Suite. Moroccan? Opt for the Marrakesh Suite. Or go even more exotic and choose the Ninevah or Kashmir, with embroidered silks and harem beds.
Sit at sunset on your balcony with a glass of bubbly in your hand and gaze out at the lovely views before going down for dinner.
Little masterpieces themselves, the dishes vie for attention with the original paintings that line the walls.
Now for the food … aah!
Chantel Dartnall, the award-winning young chef who has cooked with some of the best chefs in the world, lovingly produces creative, daring – but always delicious – dishes of all kinds, prepared from fresh seasonal produce, which you’ll savour in the Belle Epoque Mosaic at the Orient restaurant.
Little masterpieces themselves, the dishes vie for attention with the original paintings that line the walls, from French Romantic Eugène Delacroix to local artists such as Gregoire Boonzaaier, Frans Oerder and Hennie Niemann.
The Orient’s award-winning long wine list will tempt even the most jaded palate – what was it that Oscar Wilde said? 'The only way to overcome temptation is to give in to it.'
Or something along those lines.
So take his advice and indulge yourself. I did.