Just 37km from Krugersdorp and convenient for travellers from Joburg or Pretoria (it takes about an hour from either), this multi-award-winning four-star country hotel surrounded by a nature reserve has the Magalies River snaking beneath it, and sky, water and vegetation meld into something beautiful.
We drove from Pretoria, and Magaliesburg was just as we expected: church spires that jut into the sky, old houses on expansive stands and meandering dust roads.
Jennings Street comes off the town’s main thoroughfare, Voortrekker Road. An arrow pointed us in the direction of an elongated driveway at the top of which was the entrance hall.
Genial Johns Phiri welcomed us at reception. For the duration of our stay, my partner and I couldn’t help marvelling how affable, helpful and at-the-ready the staff were.
We were pleasantly surprised to find we could have a full breakfast despite arriving around mid-morning. We went for the whole gamut of fruit starters, cereals, mains and dessert, while being waited on by the dutiful Bonface Mncube, a towering figure who made a point of being useful throughout our stay.
We were checked into en suite luxury such as we had never quite experienced before. Room 3 was in the superior category (R3045 a night per couple) and sumptuous - finished in dark mahogany, with a super-sized bed bedecked with lily-white cotton sheets, under the coolness of a thatched roof.
Luxuries to hand included comprehensive DStv, a mini fridge, and tea and coffee-making facilities, and on the Sunday, a free newspaper. There also was a double shower and massive bathtub. On the patio, two loungers lay sprawled out for our use.
The luxury category rooms go for R2 815 a night, standard rooms R2 590 a night per couple for bed and breakfast.
Before going to bed, we surveyed the premises. We encountered indigenous and exotic flora, and fauna in the form of rabbits and three zebras grazing peacefully on the green lawns.
Wandering aimlessly, I found myself gazing at the on-site chapel and wondering how blissful it would be were one to get married here.
Having skipped lunch, we more than made up for that by spoiling ourselves with the dinner buffet. We had vegetable soup and fresh bread for starters, then oxtail, fish and chicken lasagne, topping that off with a delicious Cape yoghurt dessert.
Valley Lodge & Spa’s restaurant offers a choice of three settings: two inside, and the patio. It also has a wine cellar, plus a traditional pub and pizzeria. A fireplace blazes in winter.
On our way back to the room we would fill up on courtesy cranberry juice from a flask conveniently placed in one corner.
During our short stay we visited the on-site spa. It boasts an indoor, heated mineral pool, spa bath, steam rooms and saunas, manicure and pedicure station, relaxation area, as well as deck, spa café and six treatment rooms.
As my partner didn’t feel like indulging in the pleasures of the spa, I found myself following suit, but had regrets afterwards.
It’s not often that you get such luxuries tacked on during a courtesy stay.
Other amenities include a gigantic outdoor pool, four hiking trails and three tennis courts.
On the last day we decided to capture the nature marvels of Magaliesburg. We drove along one of the minor routes coming off Voortrekker Road and came upon a disused railway line that terminated at a still-occupied homestead a few hundred metres away. The homestead in all probability housed a coal yard.
I snapped a portrait of my partner posing on the rusting railway track like an H&M model.
She then snapped away at the outdoor scenes she finds so enchanting: the deep greenery of the nearby riverbank, the surrounding semi-arid stretch, and wild flowers.
We went back to the lodge determined to have the most exquisite last supper that the buffet dinner at Valley Lodge & Spa could offer. We gorged on tender meats, wedge potatoes, deliciously prepared fishcakes and irresistible oxtail.
The morning of our departure, we had the fresh fruit breakfast starters again, toast and coffee, and were forlorn to leave Valley Lodge & Spa. We would definitely return to the hotel at the slightest opportunity.