If you are looking for a secret hideaway to escape from the rat race then look no further than the beautiful Leopard Rock Hotel, tucked away in the foothills of the Bvumba Mountains (Drizzle Mountains in the local dialect) of Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands.
The hotel first opened its doors in 1946 and could originally accommodate up to 40 guests, but is much larger now. Since then the hotel has hosted numerous A-list celebrities the first of which was Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret in 1953. She fell in love with the stunning surroundings and the Queen Mother wrote: “There is nowhere more beautiful in Africa”. I am not sure that I agree with this sentiment entirely, but the views and the scenery are pretty spectacular. Princess Diana also visited, with her boys, on her visit to Zimbabwe in 1993 and there are some fabulous photographs on the walls outside the bar.
On arrival, we were greeted before we even got to the door by reception staff and welcomed with a refreshing fruit juice. The check-in was efficient and we were given all the information we required for our stay. We were then shown to an executive suite.
The first thing that I noticed was the amazing view. We were just above treetop height so nothing blocked the beautiful panorama. Even though the weather was not marvellous the sunset seen from out sitting room area a little later was breathtaking. I have to point out that this shot is not adjusted in any way. This is exactly as it was! Isn’t it a stunning sky?
Leopard Rock Hotel Executive Suite
The suite had a living room area with a guest toilet. There was a Nespresso machine and coffee pods as well as a kettle for tea and instant coffee. There were complimentary soft drinks in the fridge as well as fresh milk. A nice surprise was a decorated plate on the table with chocolately brownie morsels as a welcome and some fruit and nuts.
The bedroom was spacious with a king size bed and gorgeous crisp good quality linen. There is also a small dressing table/desk with an occasional lamp. The cupboards were huge with large shelves, fluffy bathrobes and tons of space.
Another detail that I loved was that the curtains had blackout lining so the room was really dark for a great nights sleep.
There is no television in the rooms, but quite honestly I did not look for one or even miss it. It was a pleasure not to have the intrusion.
The bathroom has a shower over the bath rather than a standalone shower, but it worked well. There is nothing that I hate more than a luxurious hotel that skimps on the smaller things. This was not the case here and the toiletries were a premium brand well known in South Africa. Another thing that drives me crazy is poor quality, thin towels. These towels were thick and absorbent and there were more than enough of them available.
There is also good wi-fi throughout the property.
The first night we had dinner at the La Roche Restaurant. This is an ideal space for weddings and large functions.
My favourite space was The Conservatory. It is an elegant far more intimate venue. Breakfast was also served here on Sunday.
You can also lunch on the terrace or at the Clubhouse if you are at the golf course.
All our meals were delicious. The food is not the trendiest around, but it is well prepared, nicely presented and the portions are generous.
I must make special mention of the wine list. It has been carefully thought out and there is a huge choice of both South African and international wines. I checked if they were all available and the waiter assured me that only a few of them were “sold out”.
I also need to commend the staff, who went out of their way to make our meals special with outstanding service.
Be sure to have a cocktail at Napoleon’s. I had the signature Pink Leopard cocktail. It had gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and yes, you are not seeing things, something called Sour Monkey, that is most definitely not made from monkeys! The barman happily gave me a taste of the Sour Monkey before I ordered my drink. As I am not a fan of overly sweet things this was perfect for me as we enjoyed out cocktails in front of the fire before dinner.
While some may say the décor is somewhat dated I disagree. It is very much in keeping with the theme of the hotel. It is understated, timeless and elegant. You would not suggest that an English Country estate’s décor is dated and Leopard Rock feels a bit like a stately home so to my mind the décor works.
The Golf Course
There is no doubt that this is a challenging golf course. My husband was in raptures over some of the holes. I was once again blown away by the views.
The course is 6164m and a par 71 and was designed by Peter Matkovich. Many of the holes are lined with dense forest or trees, so be prepared to lose more than a couple of balls on your round, unless you hit perfectly straight shots every time.
This course was named as one of Africa’s top 10 by CNN travel.
Even if you are not a golfer it is worth hiring a cart for a couple of hours to enjoy the scenic beauty and the wildlife on the course. We saw some buck, baboons and Samango monkeys that I had never seen before.
The Game Park
There are a host of activities to choose from. You can go for a walk with a guide or view the game from horseback. Some of the species in the park are impala, zebra, kudu, eland, nyala, giraffe, bushbuck, wildebeest, rare Samango Monkeys and blue duikers. It is also a bird lovers paradise.
For a more sophisticated approach make the most of the game viewing deck while you enjoy sundowners and canapés.
Leopard Rock Hotel also has a large swimming pool, tennis courts, squash courts and a children’s play area.
If you want to enjoy the Eastern Highlands in style then The Conservatory has to be your number one choice. Enjoy a more leisurely pace and the outdoors and still be cosseted in luxury with everything you need to make your stay memorable.
My stay was sponsored by Leopard Rock Hotel, but as ever, all opinions expressed here unbiased and an honest reflection of my stay.
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