The Magaliesburg, a region of mountains, valley and bushveld reached in only an hour by car from Johannesburg, is one of the few places that Jo’burgers can easily escape busy city life. It’s not surprising that it’s been a firm favorite weekend destination for decades.
Out of the myriad options of country lodges, houses and hotels to stay in the Magaliesburg, the Mount Grace has been the long standing top choice, with classy accommodation, a lovely setting on a sprawling four-hectare property of wild bushveld and manicured gardens, great food and lots of activities. Over the years it’s changed somewhat, growing significantly larger (now encompassing 121 rooms and villas) and becoming more of a huge resort and less of a quiet country retreat. Renamed the African Pride Mount Grace Country House & Spa after a partnership with African Pride Hotels two years ago, the hotel’s ownership transition has resulted in a lack of attention to detail – the main complaints are no personal touches and inconsistent service.
Rooms are spread out on the property (which you travel around by chauffeured golf cart) and have a modern country look, with wood, thatch and khaki-colored exteriors. The luxury rooms and villas are cavernous and come with large balconies and decks and their own heated plunge pools, while the lower priced rooms – though many of them have nice views over the countryside – feel a bit boxy and soulless and remind you of a corporate city hotel.
Nevertheless, the Mount Grace remains a good choice if you like the amenities and dining options of a big full-service hotel. The property pretty much has it all: conference facilities, two swimming pools, a gym, mountain bike center, a kids’ club, a big spa with a flotation pool, outdoor rock pools and Jacuzzi, stylish bars and three restaurants ranging from a café for light meals, to a casual eatery offering buffets (the breakfast buffet is particularly good), to the Rambling Vine for well-executed fine dining.