Set in the heart of the bustling town of Hazyview, the Numbi Hotel and Garden Suites is an oasis of sorts. Pools of water, alive with glistening multicoloured koi fish and sheltered under the sublime coolness of mighty fig trees, it is a haven away from home. Mellissa Bushby tells us more.
Established in 1963, Numbi is arguably the oldest family-owned and -run establishment in the Lowveld. Started by Willem Fick and now in its third generation, the family’s passion for hospitality and quality service is evident in their commitment to the comfort of their guests. From the spacious executive suites to the comfortable en suite hotel rooms, this grand old dame offers home-grown and down-to-earth cosiness. As a child, I used to stay here with my parents, always en route to the game reserve. I have memories of enormous trees, overgrown jungles teeming with birdlife, large, leaves and fragrant flowers, incredibly beautiful gardens and balmy evenings spent under the African sky.
Entering the grounds, we discovered that not much has changed. The gardens offer an abundance of trees and birdlife, a welcome respite from the busy street just outside, muting the sounds of traffic rushing past with flowing water, cool breezes and birdsong. We felt as though we had stepped back in time to an era of old-world grandeur, where sweeping staircases and patrons dressed for dinner were the norm, and tall, ice-cold drinks were served on the terrace on long, languid afternoons. The fish ponds are a revelation, with massive koi lazily sweeping their tails back and forth through the shadowy water, emerging from the depths with flashes of gold and pearl-white iridescence to break the surface before once again descending into their twilight world.
We were situated in Main House, our guest suite opening onto a semiprivate garden with a swimming pool, in the shade of a great jacaranda tree. Beautiful, scented blossoms adorned the ground in a swathe of lilac, leading a pathway to the inviting blue water, a welcome escape from the Lowveld heat. Afternoons are best spent lazing about, napping, reading and generally pondering whatever takes your fancy. We indulged in an early evening walk around the gardens, discovering a rather full campsite area, and then continuing on past the garden suites, cosily tucked away in their own little alcoves. Old here and adds a certain charm to the grounds, with their whimsical, delicate tendrils.
There are two restaurants on the premises, the Olive and Vine, and Wild Fig restaurant and pool deck. The former immediately brings to mind the works of Agatha Christie, with wooden panelling and royal blue plush finish. Dinner is a set menu, and for those more partial to a bit of variety, it is best to eat elsewhere as the choices are rather limited. Topolino’s, situated at Perry’s Bridge which is just a kilometre from the Numbi, is an excellent alternative and serves a variety of pizza and pasta meals.
Our stay at Numbi was laid-back and relaxed – a welcome and pleasant antidote to what has been a stressful time for so many. Establishments such as these, which have been around forever and weathered many storms, have been hard hit by Covid-19. The tourism industry in South Africa now has to claw its way back, one guest at a time. Fortunately, a number of them have managed to rally and are doing just that, and with our warm and welcoming South African hospitality, splendid old ladies such as the Numbi, with so much to offer in the way of old-fashioned charm and comfort, will be around for a long time to come.