Tom and I have been fortunate enough to go on some superb sneaky getaways over the last two years, so I decided to do a round-up of some of our favourites! All of these sweet little spots are reasonably close by to Cape Town, making them perfect for a weekend/ week-long getaway.
Matt Manning invited us to L’Avenir to experience his exceptional One Ingredient winelands dinner in the serene setting of Stellenbosch. We instantly fell in love with the venue, not least of all because of its pretty dam fringed by weeping willows, and the calming waters of the idyllic rim-flow pool. The cellar is also gorgeous, with tailor-made furnishings and a museum of the estate’s vintages. Matt’s dinner was as amazing as we expected it to be, and we had a lovely stay overnight at L’Avenir, followed by a hearty cooked breakfast the next morning. The beautifully modern rooms start at R1975 per night during peak season, but it’s a great getaway location for winter as well.
Located in Swellendam, the Berry Farm is a slightly longer drive away from Cape Town – it’s about 3 hours, give or take. It’s worth the trek, however, as the cottages are extremely cute and family-friendly, and overlook the mountains and orchards. We went with my family and had a wonderful stay, regardless of the weather! The highlights undoubtedly included the rather unsafe zipline, and picking endless quantities of berries in the rain, spurred on by my dad’s boundless enthusiasm. There’s a pool and plenty of activities for little ones, and the rates are extremely reasonable, starting at R195p/p. It’s also pet friendly, so you can pay R65 per night for your pooches to stay with you.
Tom and I returned to Swellendam to stay at the delightful 18th century Cypress Cottage for the weekend. Boasting an ancient claw-foot bath tub, a snaggle-tooth kitty, cobalt pool and amateur history buff for a host, we enjoyed an idyllic few days, relaxing and doing as little as possible in the quaint town. The rates included a delicious breakfast every morning, and plenty of helpful information from the kindly and knowledgeable owner. If you do head out to Swellies, make sure you find time to visit Barrydale for an amazing milkshake at biker haven Diesel & Creme. Cypress Cottage starts at R385p/p sharing, and we stayed in the Garden Room, which offers lovely decor and a cute little outside area.
The Old Pastorie
I dragged my darling out to Darling (sorry I had to) to see the flowers, and we stayed in the Old Pastorie, which is old-fashioned and charming, with a collection of stray cats and a very grand piano that the owner plays exceptionally well. We lay outside on the chairs under the tree and watched the birds settle on the dam whilst listening to Bach, and other great masters’ tunes tinkling out the window. The guest house is also ideally positioned for easy access to the West Coast National Park, which plays home to astonishing displays of wild flowers every year in spring. If you’ve never been, you simply have to make a plan to go – the carpets of bright purple, pink, yellow, orange buds are like gleaming gems against the cloudless sky, and the rocks by the sea create the perfect spot for a picnic. The rooms are R900 per night for the unit, which includes a queen-sized bed and en-suite bathroom.
Our most recent escapade, and also, quite possibly, my favourite place of all. This amazing farm is secreted just outside of McGregor, near Robertson, and is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been to. Tom discovered it and organised the whole trip, which made it extra special for me. The farm produces wine and grappa, and the cottages are gorgeous, with large Victorian four-poster beds and deck chairs under the trees. We spent most of the weekend reading, swimming and bird watching, and we also visited the neighbouring donkey sanctuary to say hi to the Eeyores. One of the hikes we did led us to the river where we spotted a pair of juvenile fish eagles, and the other took us to a dam, where fluffy cloud reflections lay undisturbed across the blue waters. Seriously, pack your bags and go. You won’t regret it. Rooms start at R800 per night (there are discounts for longer stays), and the couple who own the farm are sweethearts (as is their dog, Jupp).