Whether you’re from out of town or a local needing a Joburg staycation, The Peech experience is highly recommended
WORDS: DEBBIE HATHWAY – PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
I planned a recent flying visit from Cape Town to Johannesburg down to the minute to accommodate airport traffic and dog kennels’ opening hours. There’s method in the madness as it’s all about reducing stress for me when I travel. It’s also been a while since I boarded a plane, and the lack of social distancing, masked up for hours, with or without the refreshment service, takes some getting used to. The goal? Get to The Peech boutique hotel in the leafy suburb of Melrose as fast as possible to relax and prepare for a Cartier high-jewellery exhibition viewing the next day.
Coincidentally, the design and inspiration for the [SUR]NATUREL selection that Cartier revealed last year echoes the nature theme that attracts me to The Peech. Depending on the piece, the jewellery mimics elements of flora and fauna exactly or abstractly – from dahlias and cacti to waterfalls and the iconic panther. The Pierres Gravées collection features stones cut in the shape of leaves, which evoke lush vegetation. But, I digress… It’s so quick and easy using the Gautrain to get from OR Tambo International to Rosebank via Sandton, and The Peech is only a five-minute taxi drive from the Gautrain station to complete the journey. I considered diverting to Hyde Park Corner en route for a little immersion in the world of watches and writing instruments at the Montblanc boutique, but it was raining and I had luggage.
I decided to stick to my itinerary and focus on being welcomed back to The Peech. It’s one of the reasons I chose to return to the establishment for a second time: staff appear when you need them – courteous, well trained, eager to please, but unobtrusive. The main motivation for the stay, however, was the environment. That and the fact that I’m a creature of habit and like to overnight at places where I feel at home. The Peech was originally built as a private residence in the 1950s and remained a family home for more than 40 years. It was bought by James Peech in 2002 and opened as The Peech Hotel in 2004. Beautifully restored, the boutique hotel offers five different room types and two restaurants in two acres of lush gardens.
The Peech’s luxurious accommodation is clustered in small blocks, spaced out in beautifully tended, but not overly manicured gardens. There’s a profusion of greenery wherever you look, helped along by tall, well-established trees. I’ve always stayed upstairs, so I feel like I’m in a treehouse. I imagine guests get a similar feeling in one of the ground-floor rooms, because the gardens serve to cocoon each section. The sense of quiet afforded by the birdlife and vegetation is reminiscent of being in the African bush and it’s just as peaceful.
The rooms are uncluttered, comfortable and grounding. Literally. Earthy colours and wooden furnishings and features are brightened with pops of colour, especially yellow, a standout feature that sticks in my memory more than many other elaborate interior décor schemes at hotels that I’ve visited. I was late for lunch, so I had the hotel restaurant to myself. I positioned myself as close as possible to the sliding doors opening on to the garden without letting in the rain and tucked into a handmade ravioli with tomato cream, pea purée, basil pesto and parmesan. It was so delicious I asked for seconds and washed it down with a little Secateurs Chenin Blanc.
I stayed in for dinner, still having no desire to venture out, and ordered a simple meal of grilled Kingklip and lightly steamed vegetables. I don’t usually eat dessert but my waiter, Oscar Bukutu, seemed to think it was necessary as I hadn’t sampled any at lunch. I relented to the temptation of the chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream, amaretti and pistachio crumb, and had to laugh when I realised he was waiting for me to eat it all before clearing my plate. I don’t like to waste food, a habit ingrained in me by my grandparents, so I duly complied with the unspoken expectation.
The food offering is another USP for The Peech. Chef David Hayes is currently heading up the more sophisticated dinner restaurant, Basalt, and the Garden Bistro at The Peech. Locals and foodies will remember he opened and headed up Post Café for almost nine years, a destination dubbed by Eat Out as “the coolest corner in Braamfontein”. Late 2019 he grabbed the opportunity to work at FARRO restaurant in Illovo and then, after a brief Guest Chef pop-up series in late 2020 (mid pandemic), he joined The Peech. Be sure to book at Basalt for Restaurant Week SA 2021 (1 April to 1 May) to savour Hayes’s four-course menu of seasonally inspired dishes.
EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF
Basalt has some exciting food and wine events coming up, so go to basalt.restaurant for more details.
For hotel stays, book via thepeech.co.za.