Let it just be known that whilst I am a complete summer lover and beach bum, I can’t ignore the allure of a snuggling up beside a fireplace, listening to the rain whilst reading a book or relaxing indoors or even watching the sea rage in response to winter swell.
So many things actually get better once its cold and rainy; forest trails, mountainside or beach walks, lime green fynbos, cappuccinos, heated pools, wooden cabins, indoor boardgames and move nights. Here are a few places you have to try out in winter (and every other season) and really enjoy what they have to give the cold traveller:
1. Grootbos Nature Reserve, Stanford.
Vaughan and I first stayed here for our one year anniversary and after two nights, it instantly became one of our favourite places worldwide due to the excellent and authentic staff members, the superb cuisine and of course the views of a blanket of fynbos and Walker Bay. We recently visited again (three years later) and thankfully all of the things we loved about it haven’t changed.
Even better was that we got to experience it in the ‘secret season’ of winter which felt like unwrapping a favourite toy after losing it for a long time. As the strong swell came into De Kelders, we harvested mussels from the wet rocks with Chef Benji and then joined him in the kitchen that evening to help him prepare a few dishes for our 7 course meal including mussels in a heavenly white wine sauce, learnt how to make plum chutney and mayonnaise.
By day we joined our epic guide, Nash, on flower safaris and learnt about the erica irregularis (found only here and close to stanford), harvested cape fynbos honey at Steynsbos with Johan, lunched with Grootbos foundation director and rode a horse named Lightening up the hill only to met with drinks and snacks in time for sunset. Plus there’s a fireplace in the lounge.
Book your stay during the Secret Season and experience unique and tailor-made itineraries that really allow you to savour the cooler weather of the Overberg.
Approximate distance from Cape Town: 2 hours
Fireplace: In the lounge.
2. Tintswalo Atlantic, Cape Town
I personally don’t think you will find a better view than this at any Cape Town stay. Come cloud or sun, watching and hearing the waves crash on the rocks just below your balcony while the sun dips below the sentinel makes it very hard to beat. We didn’t even need to leave the cosy bedroom of the Robin suite to enjoy the fire. And once we returned to our room after dinner, it was already lit after the turn down service.
Canapes and drinks were served to us as we lounged on deck and waited for dinner time. Dinner is a romantic, candle lit affair where you get the chance to look in and see the chefs at work preparing your fine dining meal. Like us, I don’t think you’ll feel the need to leave your bedroom come breakfast time. We stayed put in bed whilst pastries, coffee and english breakfasts were delivered to our door.
We loved the special touch and parting tradition they have for all their guests. Just as your check out you’re given rock with your names on it and ‘May all your wishes come true’ on the back. You have to make a wish and toss it ver your shoulder out into the sea. What a great memory to make before leaving this special place.
If you visit before 31 August 2017, take advantage of their ’Winter Warmer’ package which Includes luxury accommodation in one of the 10 ocean-facing king suites, as well as a delectable five-course dinner with a bottle of house wine, and a delicious breakfast the next morning at R7000 per night for two people sharing.
Approximate distance from Cape Town: It’s right within Cape Town along Chapman’s Peak.
Fireplace: In your room.
3. Rustic Romance at Kol Kol Mountain Lodge, Bot River.
After spending two nights of our honeymoon (which started in South Africa and continued in Thailand for a year) in these wooden and stone cabins set on the empty hills of Bot River, I am convinced that there isn’t a more romantic place in the Western Cape, perhaps even South Africa.
The magic of this place lies in the privacy and seclusion of these few cabins set on the mountains where you may never actually see another human being. Far from traffic, deadlines and cityscapes, your own little wooden sanctuary awaits with fireplace, milk, bottle and eggs in the kitchen, views of natural nothing sprawled out in front of you and best of all- a heated rock pool.
Stocked with boardgames, a cd player, books and wood for a break and/or the pool; there is very little you’ll wait or need here. All you have to do is show up with your food supplies, champers and a swimsuit (although skinny dipping is definitely the way to go as you have your very own pool and each cabin has no view of neighbouring ones). Once you visit, you’ll quickly realise why this place is booked up six months in advance; there is an indescribable charm about it. What I’m trying to say is schedule some much-needed couple time, find the kids a babysitter and book your stay now!
Approx. distance from Cape Town: 1h 24min
Fireplace: In the lounge.
4. Small town luxury at Schooneoordt Country House, Swellendam
If you’ve read our blog at all, then you’ll know that Swellendam has taken up residence as my new favourite small town. Aside from the adventure hub that we discovered it to be set with horse riding, kayaking in the dam, micro lighting at Umshanti and trailing through Marloth Nature Reserve; we discovered the five star Schooneoordt Country House charm, old world elegance and stories to tell. In addition, it belongs to a woman named Alison and her family and she really gets hospitality. Antiques and treasures of old line their hallway, staircase and the lounge where high-tea is served every afternoon.
Gourmet meals are the order of the day at dinnertimes and at the time Chef Obakeng delighted us with refreshing takes on fine dining all whilst seated in the elegant conservatory. With a very little caleb, we enjoyed the end honeymoon suite set with four poster bed, delectable claw bath, fire place and patio looking out into the trees.
Enjoy the pool and sprawling lawns in summer and the fire places in winter. Set in the heart of swellendam it truly is a walk away from historical monuments, museums, the town church, coffee shops and restaurants and a short drive away from berry farms, reserves and more. This place is definitely another reason to include swellendam as a stop along your next road trip.
If you book and stay before the end of September 2017 reference The Travel Manuel, you will receive 20 % off the rate of your room.
Approx. time from Cape Town: 2h, 30 mins.
Fireplace: In the room.
What are some of your favourite winter stays in the Western Cape and the rest of South Africa?