We high tailed it to Brahman Hills Hotel to relax and recharge after three exciting South Africa safari experiences. This KwaZulu Natal Midlands hotel has it all from solid cuisine to a swanky spa.
Brahman Hills Hotel Review
Located on the 1,000-acre Blue Crane Private Reserve, Brahman Hills is the type of hotel that you can only find in South Africa. Animals roam freely on the property, and not just cats and dogs. We’re talking about animals like humongous Brahman cows, striped zebras and sleek, sprightly impalas.
But these friendly beasts are just one aspect of the renovated hotel.
As we came to expect in a South Africa luxury hotel, service and impressive details were everywhere. Brahman Hills is a full-service hotel with 30 rooms, 12 self-catering cottages, a luxury spa, multiple dining options and conference facilities. The hotel’s decor is mod and stylish, and the service is attentive and friendly.
We had our doubts when we heard that we were upgraded to a cottage at Brahman Hills. After glamping in the bush, we were looking forward to the creature comforts that are typical in an upscale South Africa hotel.
It’s not that we’re spoiled, but we craved functioning wi-fi (an infrequent feature in South Africa) and a good shower above all else. We’re happy to report that our concerns were completely unfounded – our Impala Cottage had everything we needed and more.
Our only complaint about staying in the Impala Cottage at Brahman Hills is that we didn’t have enough time to use the cottage’s kitchen. In addition to the loaded kitchen that we didn’t use, the cottage also had a comfy bedroom, fireplace, ensuite bathroom and a heated private jacuzzi.
Despite our time constraints related to the kitchen, we found time to use the jacuzzi. Hopefully, we didn’t scare the cows who wandered by our deck while we were submerged in the jacuzzi’s revitalizing bubbling water. As for us, we were too relaxed to care about the unexpected visitors peeking through the glass walls.
The interior of our Impala Cottage was comfortable, filled with features beyond the aforementioned jacuzzi like a flat-screen television, a king bed topped with an electric blanket and a spacious bathroom with double showers. In fact, the cottage was so comfortable that we were tempted to stay in bed all day.
We would have done just that, but the hotel offered temptations like good food and a full-service spa that motivated us to get up and out each morning.
Don’t judge us too harshly for our laziness. After the intensity of nine safari game drives, we relished the quiet downtime that the cottage afforded us. Sure, cows and the occasional impala stopped by for brief visits, but that just added to the experience. Normally, we’re far more socially inclined.
After three safaris, we didn’t want massages. We needed massages.
Lucky for us, The Spa at Brahman Hills offers massages and so much more. We were tempted to try treatments like the Detox Coffee Glow Body Scrub and the Mineral Bath, but we stuck to our original plan and enjoyed a soothing couples massage that took the edge off our stressed bodies.
As much as we enjoyed the lemongrass oil-fueled couples massage, perhaps the best part of The Spa at Brahman Hills was relaxing in the zen environment. Architecturally resembling a ship with its large circular windows and blue and white decor, this sleek spa is surprisingly chill.
We stayed as long as possible – reclining, sipping cappuccinos and gazing at the rolling green hills through the round windows
Food + Drink
Since our first priority at Brahman Hills was to relax, we were thrilled by the quality of the onsite food options. Not only did we eat well, but we didn’t need to leave the property except when we wanted to explore the area.
Served in the Brahman Cafe just off of the main lobby, breakfast is a leisurely affair at the Brahman Hills. Over two mornings, we sampled tasty dishes like French Toast, traditional full English platters, herb omelets and bowls of Bulgarian yogurt so big that we couldn’t finish them.
The breakfast cappuccinos were equally big. Somehow, though, we had no problem finishing the milky pick-me-ups.
Like a magnet, Cappuccino pulled us right inside within moments of our arrival at Brahman Hills.
Stylishly decorated, this coffee lover’s haven is a comfortable spot to relax with a cup of joe or a crafted espresso beverage. We’re often disappointed by the commodity coffee served at most hotels in South Africa and around the world, but this aptly named cafe made us happy with its coffee drinks and peanut butter cookies.
We weren’t hungry on our first night at Brahman Hills after stopping in Durban for a late curry lunch – more about that later. However, we made sure to eat light on day two of our visit so that we’d be hungry for the Chef’s Selection 3-course menu at 89 on Copper, the hotel’s chic, subterranean restaurant.
Intimate due to a cosy size that can accommodate just over two dozen guests, the 89 on Copper space is illuminated by a range of funky light fixtures and candles. Though we usually prefer to dine in well-lit spaces, we enjoyed the romantic atmosphere at this restaurant.
The food at 89 on Cooper isn’t dainty as one might fear based on the chichi atmosphere. Instead, dishes like the flavorful prawn and chicken curry feel completely ‘of place’ considering the popularity of Indian food in nearby Durban.
Even better, the culinary team incorporates fresh vegetables and herbs plucked from the hotel’s onsite gardens whenever possible. And we’ll never complain about dessert served with house-made ice cream – that would just be wrong.
Arrive early for your dinner reservation at 89 on Copper and enjoy a drink at Copper, the restaurant’s adjoining bar.
Let’s be clear – there’s no need to leave Brahman Hills during a weekend visit. Beyond the relaxing spa and jacuzzis, the hotel also has kilometers of walking trails fit for all activity levels. Should you want to do more, we recommend the following activities:
Transportation And Logistics
Consider the following when you plan your stay at Brahman Hills:
Getting To Brahman Hills
Located just off of the N3 highway, Brahmans Hills is an easy hour-and-a-half drive from Durban and a slightly longer four-hour drive from Johannesburg.
The driving distance from Cape Town is closer to 15 hours, making flying an attractive option.
The nearest airport is in Durban should you choose to fly instead of drive.
Recommended Pit Stop
We highly recommend a pit stop at Seabelle Restaurant in Tongaat, a Durban suburb. We ate so much delicious Durban style curry during our visit at the coastal restaurant, that we skipped dinner.
This local favorite serves curries with prawns, crayfish, chicken, mutton and vegetables in a unique bright red curry that features tomatoes and a spice blend that is unique to South Africa. Servings are generous and prices are reasonable – a perfect combination.
Rates vary based on the selected room or cottage. Our cottage cost 2,090 Rand (approximately $160 USD) during our visit. This cost did not include meals, though the cottage came equipped with tea and coffee.
When To Plan Your Visit
The climate in KwaZulu Natal is temperate throughout the year, so any time is a good time to visit Brahman Hills.
Consider the warmer summer months if you want longer days for exploring the area.
Or, you may prefer the winter months if you want to snuggle by the fireplace or under the electric blanket.
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About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: August 27, 2017