I was sourcing fine footwear from Tsonga in the Lidgetton valley in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, when I discovered the four-star Lythwood Lodge nearby. Conveniently accessible from Durban or Pietermaritzburg, this is the kind of countryside and venue that induces sighs of contentment.
The name Lythwood was originally spelt Lithwood (“Lith” being the Greek word for stone) and named after an old quarry on the estate. It was Dr LV Pearson who built the basic structure of the present day manor house in the mid-1940s using the skill of Dutch builders and talented Italian prisoners of war. All plumbing, electrics and finishes were done by the Italians and one, Giovanni Avellini, was responsible for Lythwood’s intricate and beautiful wrought iron work.
Current owners Ann and Michael Peacock made a happy escape from the corporate world to take over Lythwood, converting the gracious manor house initially into an eight-room luxury country hotel, which opened in 1997. They later added four veranda suites, a multi-function centre, a chapel (originally an old dairy), eight new rooms and four self-catering cottages.
The lodge exudes comfortable country charm with mahogany furnishings and the works of largely local artists on the walls.
It offers a wide choice of accommodation, with nice touches in the rooms like fresh flowers from the garden, fruit and crunchies.
In winter the fireplaces in each room have a roaring fire. Each has an en-suite bathroom with separate shower and bath (excluding the wheelchair friendly room which has a large shower area only). Satellite tv and a Wi-Fi network helps you to stay in touch with the rest of the world.
Whether you choose self-catering or the executive suite, the staff are very willing to assist. Manager Leon Rennison and his accommodating staff go out of their way to make guests feel at home.
The Midlands in winter is especially beautiful, particularly if snow is forecast. To warm yourself up, a brisk walk over the crackly leaves on the 275-hectare property and along the specially cleared paths through the indigenous forest is one suggestion.
There’s also croquet, trout fishing in the dam or river and golf in the near vicinity – which can all be a prelude to a glass of wine from the cellar, in front of the fire, or over a game of chess. Or, if you prefer, in the pub before (and after) dinner.
Lythwood Lodge has a mix of newly introduced menu items as well as traditional favourites, with choices for everyone. With the food, charming, graceful gardens, quaint chapel and large reception room opening onto magical midlands vistas, it’s no wonder it’s a popular wedding venue.
Lythwood Lodge also offers exceptional conference facilities and services for up to 300 delegates.