> THE CULLINAN INN
The likeliest place to bump into Naomi…
The need for a break from the hurly burly, coupled with a craving for Greek food, sent us driving, about an hour out of Joburg, to Cullinan. Not the prettiest journey in the world, but in this particular case, it was all about the destination. We did however stumble across a rickety mill where we lost ourselves in a photographic dream for a while.
Cullinan is most famous for the Cullinan Diamond, discovered here in 1905. This diamond is, to date, the largest gemstone ever found, weighing in at 3 106 carats. Basically the size of half a soccer ball…now…if Little Miss Nasty-tempered Naomi Campbell were wearing a stone of this magnitude, she probably wouldn’t be able to swing one of her infamous klaps at anyone.
Cullinan is the quintessential of antiquated, charming diamond dorpies. They’ll probably hate us for calling it a dorpie, but any place where everyone is home and in bed by 7pm on a Sunday qualifies, in our books, as a dorpie. Then again, that’s Cullinan’s appeal: it’s a chilled and charming place. That’s its raison d’être and the key reason for going there. Oak Street is the main strip and it’s characterised by a railway line and quaint, corrugated-tinned, mining houses from the prospector’s era. There you can go underground to explore the diamond mine, or pop into one of the many vintage and bohemian style winkeltjies. Jan Harmsgat and Rust and White are specifically worth mentioning. They stock predominantly antique-looking, country-inspired decorative items for the home. Metal plates, enamel cups and other metal bits and bobs rustled-up from the mining era, have found their way into the architecture and décor of many establishments, most notably, Jan Harmsgat.
On this particular trip, we stayed at The Cullinan Inn that comprises of a series of three mining houses, each containing several rooms, so you could ineffectively have the whole house to yourself if you go in a small group. The rooms are decorated with a quaint charm. Their aestheticism, charisma and yester-year appeal enhance the escapism and relaxation of your get away. There’s no rush to get out of bed early for breakfast, they’re happy to accommodate late risers…such as us. The breakfasts are plentiful and delicious and you can have them outside in their beautiful garden area. They have a variety of spa treatments and packages and we have to admit, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality and affordability of the treatments. Among others, they offer a 30minute back, neck and head tension relieving massage for R120. A Summer Shine full body scrub and massage for R320, Hot Stone massages, Toning Massages as well as luxurious Hand and Foot Treatments…sjoe! Feeling relaxed just writing about it…If you’re making a weekend of it, we’d recommend doing a treatment on the day you are sleeping over…you’re going to feel so relaxed that a drive back to Joburg will be the last thing your body will want to do.
A trip to Cullinan is not complete without visiting Stavros’s place ‘As Greek as it gets’. Stavros is a really warm, genuine, down-to-earth culinary master. As Greek food goes, the mezzes are the thing to go for, specifically their melt-in-your-mouth feta wrapped in chicken…Mmmm. There’s an excellent assortment for vegetarians too. Basically everything on the menu is great! They have a mezze platter for two which is both worthwhile and delicious (portions on the platter are half the usual starter size, by the way, and the wine on offer will please any connoisseur. Top your meal off with the most incredible Baklava this side of the Vaal and you’ll be halfway to heaven. The Baklava is crispy, flaky, syrupy, sweet and has a beautiful orange and lavender undertone. Their inside dining room is lived-in, cosy and has antiquated fireplace. Good for a romantic rendezvous. On this particular day, we sat outside in their courtyard, listened to Jamie Cullum and had one of those long, Sunday, boozy lunches filled with indulgences. It’s a great spot for families, particularly because there is a park across the street, so you can eat and watch your kids play. What more can you ask from a Sunday lunch, other than a satisfied tummy and a restful mind? The staff was also commendable. On this particular day, Chad and his dashing mates took pristine care of us (these are the three dapper gentlemen featured in the photos.) We’ve been inspired to use old-school adjectives…because Cullinan just has that old-world charm all-round.
There is also a fabulous train trip you can do (on an old steam train, nogal!) from Pretoria to Cullinan.
Cullinan is a must. It’s diamond in the rough, waiting to be uncovered…by you.
Address: Main road, Cullinan, Pretoria
Physical Address: 82 Jan Smuts Avenue, Cnr Cotswold Drive, Saxonwold
Tel: +27 (0) 11 646 6315
Tuesday – Sunday: 09:00 – 17:00