Are you looking for a romantic getaway or do you just need to escape from the rat race that our lives have become?
Then look no further than The Irene Country Lodge. My wife and I recently braved the traffic on the Ben Schoeman highway in order to get some “us” time.
This Three Cities property is situated within easy driving distance of both Johannesburg and Pretoria yet you will find your stress drain away as you walk into the well appointed reception area and lounge.
Our arrival at the Lodge was greeted not with a welcome drink but with a container of cookies that almost kept us from getting to our room!
The Lodge building is horse shoe shaped and all fifty of the spacious bedrooms face out over a dam that is home to a large variety of water birds and swans. The dam was added five years ago and if the numbers of photographers out in the early hours of the morning are anything to go by, well used by the birding community. Set in a lush meadow the hotel is surrounded by splendid oak trees. For the businessperson it has state-of-the-art conference facilities and for those planning a special occasion the hotel can provide an intimate setting for weddings or banquets
Situated one the one side of the dam is a gazebo which houses the Lakeside Country kitchen. This venue is ideal for lunch and tea, and the live music completed the relaxed atmosphere. We spend most of our morning sitting and reading the newspaper on the couches there. It is not easy to concentrate on the woes of the world when your immediate view is of a placid lake!
We had dinner and breakfast in the Meadows Green Restaurant in the main hotel building and we enjoyed both meals immensely. The breakfast was probably one of the most comprehensive we have had in a long time and the Greek yogurt with nuts and honey was especially decadent!
The weekend that we were there the Lodge played host to a fishing day, an event which takes place every second month. The dam has been stocked with carp and barbel and these wily fish are what attract the anglers by the dozen. I don’t quite get the idea of sitting around for hours staring at a line in the water; however those that I spoke to seemed to be having a great day. Especially the young boy who seemed to be the only angler to catch anything all day!
If neither fishing nor photography is your idea of relaxation there are also many local places of interest for guests to visit.
Directly across the road from the Lodge is the Irene Dairy. This century old working farm allows visitors to watch as cows are milked. It was interesting for us to observe the faces of the children as they watched the cows being milked as we were sure that most of them thought that milk comes in cartons from their local supermarket!
The shop attached to the milking shed offers fresh milk and dairy products as well as a variety of home made cakes and tarts.
Also on the property is the Barn Tea Garden which offers a variety of snacks and meals to satisfy the hungriest visitor. These tea gardens always remind me of my youth and I find it difficult to pass up the opportunity of tea and scones with cream and jam.
The Irene Country Market is held in the grounds of Smuts House between 9am-2pm on the 2nd and last Saturday of every month. The market is about 5km from the Lodge and is a true craft market. We found it a great place to shop for unusual home made gifts and it is and is well worth a visit. But be warned it is VERY popular and getting there early in order to miss the traffic is almost a requirement.
Smuts House has been converted into a small museum and for a nominal fee visitors to the market are able to experience a slice of South African history.
While eating and shopping are a prerequisite for a trip to Irene, for the sportier visitor there are two golf courses within walking distance of the Lodge.
We left Irene feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and not even the traffic on the highway could spoil our buoyant mood.
Irene Country Lodge.
Telephone: 0861 000 333
Telephone: 031 310 6900
Irene Country Lodge
Telephone: 012 667 6464
Facsimile: 012 667 64 76