Driving down avenues of trees, past the finest Thoroughbred horses and through a set of large gates – the magnificent facade of Hartford House Hotel appears. An ivy covered facade that has appeared in numerous publications over the years. A boutique hotel with a fascinating history that should be added to your must stay list.
What can you expect on arrival? A very warm welcome and after signing in a choice of either sparkling wine or sparkling grape juice. With drink in hand you will then be given a short tour of the main building before being taken to your suite.
I was on a Women’s Weekend Midlands trip with three other ladies and we were very excited to be hosted by Hartford House Hotel at their incredible property. We were allocated Suite 9 and 10 and I shared Suite 10 (Heliotrope) with Verushka of Spice Goddess.
Suite 10 (Heliotrope) is a Garden Suite, a stand alone “cottage” situated in front of the Chapel. There is a lounge (with fireplace), bedroom and dressing table area that are all open plan. The fabulous bathroom is the only area with a door and you will want to close yourself in there and soak away any troubles from the outside world. Heliotrope also has a verandah with a small table and two chairs.
After leaving our luggage in the Suite we made our way to The Tijnhuis, Hartford House Hotel’s stone and glass thatched restaurant that serves a more relaxed menu. The building is surrounded by ponds, gardens and cascading water and it is an adventurous walk to get inside this incredible building. Relaxation was the order of the day and I enjoyed my delicious order of Lamb Ragu served on tagliatelle. We are currently in Autumn but the day was very warm and it was fitting to have homemade blueberry ice cream for dessert. We then ended our meal with cappuccinos that were made with coffee beans supplied by Terbodore Coffee.
More culinary delights lay ahead of us that evening but first we could go and relax the rest of the afternoon away in our Suites. What a wonderful afternoon it was with the sounds of birds, mooing of cows in a next door field and neighing of horses coming from a nearby stable block. It was cool in the shade but the suite verandah was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a G & T and have a chat.
When you book to stay at Hartford House Hotel make sure that you book for the 6 course tasting menu as well. They call it a 6 course tasting menu but you actually end up with 8 courses. The tasting menu was created by Executive Chef Paul Antolik and his team and a special mention must be made of a student of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine, Phumla Zakwe, who is on a 6 month placement at the hotel.
Freshly baked and sliced sourdough bread was the 1st item followed by the delicious Midlands Grazing – snacks from the kitchen. One item had bobotie flavours and the other contained pulled beef. The 3rd item on the menu was Zulu Waters Venison Carpaccio with prune puree, aioli, pomegranate, crostini and pumpkin seeds. My husband and I will often order carpaccio and I loved Hartford’s flavourful take on the dish.
The 4th dish was Umngqusho risotto (corn salsa, crispy leek, charred onion and parmesan) and my reaction to this was WOW! The flavours and the soft versus the crispy created a taste sensation. The 5th item on the menu was the palate cleanser.
The 6th course and what could be considered the main course was a Braised Short Rib with fried polenta, sweet potato, pickled beetroot, radish and basil. The Short Rib was perfectly cooked and easy to eat with fabulous flavours.
The dessert for the evening was Almond Cheesecake with praline, poached apple, rooibos gel and apple crisp and was created by Phumla Zakwe. It was beautifully plated and delicious and Phumla Zakwe is a chef to look out for in future.
The final item on the menu was Sweets and Treats which were pretty chocolate bon bons.
What an incredible menu with delightful flavours and textures. I also enjoyed an Inverroche Classic G & T with the tasting menu.
A fire was merrily burning in the fireplace of the suite when we returned and a small slice of fudge under a glass dome was placed on the side of the bed.
I loved the big shower and the soft towels that were warmed by the heated towel rail. Hartford House Hotel uses products from Healing Earth – shampoo, conditioner, hand and body lotion, hand and body soap and bath and shower gel. I especially loved the Lemon Verbena & Argan Oil bath and shower gel.
After a good night’s sleep in a very comfortable bed and a warm room I awoke to the sound of horses neighing and the sun coming up over the trees. There was even a small buck in the distance but I couldn’t see what it was.
The first and most important item to order at breakfast was a cappuccino, then I could go and look to see what food was on the buffet table in the main dining room. As everyone knows we are in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic and in addition to sanitizers and masks other precautions need to be taken with food and utensils. Hartford House have a clever solution by packing their fresh fruit, muesli, yoghurt and even juices in glass containers. The guest will choose the items they want for breakfast and then take them to their table. I decided to have fresh fruit, muesli and yoghurt and I also chose orange juice. From the hot breakfast menu I had to order Eggs Benedict with Bacon.
Breakfast was a fitting end to an incredible stay at Hartford House Hotel. Everything was amazing – the food, the suite, the friendly and helpful staff and the beautiful gardens. Even the weather played a part to make it a memorable time.
Before leaving I had to take a look inside the chapel which was formerly a dairy, as I had heard that the metal rings that the cows were tied to when being milked were still attached to the walls.
Thank you Hartford House Hotel for an incredible stay. I hope to be able to stay again with you in future.