When the people from Land Rover South Africa asked me if I would be interested in doing a project exploring all the ‘bests’ of Gauteng, I said yes immediately. I know we have some amazing offerings in our province but unfortunately we also have some let-downs and too often, the let-downs are what people remember. Over the last year or two, some very exciting things have been happening, food-wise in Gauteng so you can imagine my excitement when one of the most exciting car manufacturers asked me to work with them to discover it all.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not a big car person. Of course I like good-looking cars but as my husband will tell you, I still struggle to tell the difference between a hub-cap and a mag (to his motor-loving horror). As long as a car has air-con and has some power, I’m happy. But when I was told I would be picked up on Saturday morning in a Range Rover Sport, I felt like a child on the night before Christmas. For the past 5 years or so, this has been my dream car. A snow white Range Rover Sport has been the only car I’ve wanted for a while now and when exactly that car parked in front of my gate, I had to let out a little ‘yelp’ of delight and joy! And when I heard I would be driving this car all day and we would be having High Tea (afternoon tea) at The Saxon, I knew this would be the perfect Saturday.
The Saxon (for those of you who don’t know) is one of South Africa’s (and definitely Johannesburg’s) best boutique hotels and the moment you enter the magnificent property, you know why. As you drive up the drive-way surrounded by greener-than-green, plush gardens you immediately get the sense that you are going to be spoiled rotten during your visit. One of the things I love the most about The Saxon is the fact that you park your car in the garage and the moment you get out of your car, a chauffeur-driven luxury vehicle is waiting to drive you up to the main building. And you know a hotel is 5 star when all the staff are dressed in the best quality suits, all perfectly tailored. From the guards at the gate with their beautiful coats to the sommaliers in their pin stripe suits and sky-blue ties.
We were seated in the lounge for our afternoon tea and the moment I sat down, I felt relaxed and comfortable, which so often doesn’t happen in an establishment of that standard. We were served our tea in beautiful glass tea pots placed over a tea-light candle to keep it warm and soon our food arrived. Now, it’s hard for me to explain exactly how I felt when 2 x 3-tier cake stands packed with food and a huge platter of scones with cream, cheese and jam arrived. I am an afternoon-tea lover of note and all the miniature cakes, pastries and pies always make me very excited, but I’ve never been served such an incredible amount of all those lovely dainties! If ever there was a high tea that was money well spent, it was this one!
Fresh sandwiches filled with the best smoked salmon and ham, mini springrolls and pies and my absolute favourites, crostini with parma ham, Roquefort and fig and Smoked salmon and cream cheese all made up the savoury ‘stand’. What was clear from the very start is that everything is made in the kitchen, nothing is bought in and the pastry chefs definitely know what they’re doing. Everything was incredibly tasty, fresh (nothing worse than a stale sandwich) and beautifully presented.
Of course, the sweet ‘stand’ was the thing that kept drawing my eye and I was not disappointed. The most delicious peppermint-crisp in a glass, lemon meringue, passion fruit cheesecake, chewy macarons, chocolate brownie squares and mini-cakes were all tasted (yes ALL of it) and I still dream of the chocolate brownie square. An intensely moist and dark chocolate cake is topped with the smoothest ganache you’ve ever tasted and finished off with a quenelle of milk chocolate mousse. Any chocolate-lover’s (and even non-choc lover’s) dream!
Our waitress, Bridget was incredible. Intentive without being smothering and checked in constantly if we were happy and whether we needed more tea/water. Such a treat! After our tea we were taken through the hotel to see the beautiful suites (The Presidential suite is pure decadence) and I am dreaming of spending a day in their beautiful spa. The new Villas are perfect for big groups wanting to stay together (you know, when your entourage needs to be close to you) and I have it on good authority that a very big and famous International band stayed there recently when they came to South Africa during their world tour.
I didn’t want the afternoon to end but the only thing consoling me was the fact that I would be driving the Range Rover Sport again. Even though I know I can’t afford one myself for quite some time, I know I won’t think twice about purchasing one when I can. I’ve never been so sad to get out of a car in my life and I was quite chuffed when I heard that, that very same RRS would be going to John Smit (Springbok captain) while he’s in Joburg.
Definitely an incredible way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I know not everyone has the opportunity of driving a Range Rover Sport but a meal at The Saxon is definitely do-able and if you are in need of some luxurious pampering, this is the place to go!