This article was first published in South African Airways Magazine, Sawubona in their November 2020 Issue.
With a trend towards sustainable travel and the ‘tiny house’ movement, find all you’ll need and more in these natural escapes and off-the-grid container stays all within three hours drive of Cape Town.
Gone are the days of vast spaces and opulent furnishings topping the list of desirables for travellers. Instead; authentic experiences and sustainability are starting to drive decision-making for many holiday makers. Aside from being compact, container-living options are also more eco-friendly as they recycle already-existing materials for their creation, and owners can go a step further by adding composting toilets, solar panels and gas water heaters. Here’s a few Container Stays in the Western Cape that fit luxury, eco-friendly elements in small spaces in a few exceptional locations…
Remote Mountainside Retreat at The Square Elephant
Flee the city to this secluded, solar-powered container perched on the mountainside in Fisherhaven. Remotely located, but close enough to grocery shops, wineries, golf courses and the ocean. Designed specifically with adults in mind, this is a chance to leave the kids at home and re-discover solitude. Sink into the wood-fired hot tub, enjoy trails through the fynbos with your furry friend and come expecting panoramic views of Hermanus.
There’s a good chance you may encounter buck, blue crane, porcupines, owls, rare mountain tortoise, hare, mongoose, genet, baboons and other fynbos dwellers so you’re encouraged to give them space. Braai on the deck protected by the summer south easter and delight in sunset views. If you’re game and reasonably fit, hike to the mountain top with a picnic only to be rewarded with views of Hermanus, Walker Bay and Onrus. Chilly winter nights call for hot tub time with a hot or cold drink in hand and on a clear night- it’s stargazing time.
Best For: Couples and Friends seeking solitude and a retreat with dogs.
Travel time from Cape Town: 90 minutes
Website: Square Elephant
Pet-friendly Farm stay at Riverstone’s Famtin
Who needs a tv when you have views like this in Wolseley? Check into the Famtin in winter prepared to hibernate beside the closed combustion fireplace in view of the Mostertshoek mountain while summer calls for a dip in the private dam. Lounge in the open-plan living area set with key designer elements or outside on the covered patio. Bring the dogs, the kids ( kids should be old enough to swim as the container is right on the water) and enjoy the slow pace of life on a working fruit farm. Dine indoors or outdoors, read or play games, go for walks on the farm or dine out at nearest restaurants in Ceres. Even cooking in the Smeg and Le Creuset adorned kitchen is an experience where a high wide window provides close-up views of the hill behind you. Baby and dog sitting available on request too.
Best For: Families or friends looking for stylish farm stay with pets.
Travel time from Cape Town: 90 minutes
Website: Riverstone Famtin
Countyside Family Break in Easy for Dayz
In amongst the fresh, contemporary spaces, time often seems to stand still in the dusty, romantic streets of McGregor; which is why the hybrid container home Easy for Dayz is a welcome fit. Follow the stone fruit pips past the dewy grass and young succulents to the ample patio perfect for sipping coffee in the mornings looking out over neighbouring country homes and the Breede River Valley mountains. From Voortrekker Street, it can easily be mistaken for another white-washed McGregor beauty but turn the corner and discover state-of-the-art design breathing life into this recycled container while blending into the countryside.
One of the first hybrid container homes of its kind in South Africa; designed by architect Kirsty Ronné, at Colab concepts, it’s design and construction is based on sustainable principals and building technology while maintaining the sensitive heritage of the McGregor architectural context. Effortlessly simple in its beauty, it has everything you’ll need- a simple space for family and friends to savour their surroundings and rejoice in each other’s company. Dip in the splash pool on hot summer days, laugh together around board games and meander through the village for a coffee at How Bazaar or live music evening on weekends at The Courtyard.
Best For: Family Breaks or a getaway with friends in the heart of the countryside
Travel Time from Cape Town: Three hours
Website: Easy for Dayz
Adventurer’s Forest Escape at Camps Bay Pod
In the heart of a four-acre nature reserve at Camps Bay Retreat, lies little pods of luxury created from converted shipping containers built as an alternative to traditional holiday accommodation. Adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts will burst with joy at this hidden location tucked away in an indigenous forest with trails to explore, a waterfall to discover and a gate leading directly to Glen Beach across the road. Inspired by the tiny house movement, Village n Life chairman Maree Brink says “I wanted to emulate the idea of a yacht, with its self-contained living quarters, but for land. Something compact, with no wasted space.” A quarter of the size of a standard hotel room, the units are completely self-contained studios, each with a shower, toilet, kitchenette, bathroom, and balcony seating area overlooking a river. Dine at the boutique hotel on the property, swim the mountain pool or hop across the beach or relax with a braai on the balcony.
Best For: Nature lovers who want a break without leaving the city
Time to Travel from Cape Town: Situated in Cape Town’s Camps Bay suburb.
Website: Camps Bay Retreat
Romantic Escape at Copia Eco Cabins
Designed with comfortable luxury and romance in mind, Copia eco cabins on the Keisseskraal Farm are completely off-the-grid with solar electricity and gas water heating. Add a fireplace and wood-fired hot tub together with endless Botrivier mountain views and you get an intoxicating package of what real escape looks like. With no wifi and limited cellphone reception you finally have an excuse to unplug, digitally detox and reconnect with your partner. And in a stylish up-cycled shipping container with just the right mix of stone, wood and steel positioned on a working farm no less. Perched on a hill with a steep drop off the deck , it’s best to come sans the kids and truly get away from it all. Wine lovers will delight in nearby botriver wines and the Hermanus wine route. Not keen on cooking? A number of restaurants and delis await your booking within the 7km mark.
Best For: Romantic Couple Getaway
Travel Time from Cape Town: 90 minutes
Website: Copia Eco Cabins