As if it was plucked straight from the pages of Gone With The Wind, this Victorian mansion has been lovingly converted into a boutique hotel by charming hosts Alison and Richard Walker, who bought the property in 2003 and have been renovating it ever since. Who knows how many families have occupied this estate, how many stories it has to tell? The archives were destroyed by fire, so the owners have had to piece its past together using word-of-mouth stories. Still, guests continue to fall in love with the place, joining a long line of former occupants who hold a strong emotional connection to Schoone Oordt.
There are eight Luxury Rooms, with private patios overlooking a vibrant rose garden. Each has a king-size or twin bed, en-suite bathroom with oversized showers, a fireplace, air conditioning, underfloor heating, uncapped wireless internet, a minibar, tea and coffee facilities, DStv and a DVD player.
There’s also a Family Cottage – a restored Coach House with its own private spot on the property – that sleeps four, with a king-size bed for parents, and a Family Suite that sleeps six. In addition to the above facilities, the cottage also has a small kitchenette with a microwave and toaster.
There’s also the Honeymoon Suite – where we stayed with our three-year-old son – set beside the Koornlands River on the edge of a forest, with a carved-wood four-poster bed, a capacious bathroom and a large fireplace enhancing the atmosphere.
Lie of the land
The grand old Manor House is the centrepiece of the estate, set apart from the guest rooms and surrounded by flourishing gardens with fountains and a saltwater swimming pool. Within the revamped mansion, there’s a bar and lounge with a fireplace, a country-style kitchen, and the Conservatory restaurant, which serves hearty breakfasts, afternoon tea, and dinners that evolve seasonally and are paired with locally sourced vintage wines.
Above and beyond
We arrived on one of those sweltering Swellendam days, and were welcomed by the warm and friendly staff into the tastefully appointed living room, where homemade lemonade, ice tea, freshly baked scones, and refreshing fruit bowls were laid out.
The three-course breakfast is an utter treat: start with the generous buffet that overflows with fresh fruit salad, an array of cereals and yoghurts, a charcuterie and cheese section, and freshly baked scones and jam! Ease into the second course – an utterly delicious watermelon, feta, rocket and toasted flaked almonds salad, and go all out with the main event – a Croque Madame with an English muffin-and-bacon twist!
On the day we left, our mud-splattered car received a full valet car wash.
And did we mention the warm, friendly and professional staff?
The staff at reception will happily advise you on how to spend your time in Swellendam, and the surrounding countryside. The best coffee is to be had at Ikigai Coffee Bar & Deli (across the road from Tourist Information, where you can hire mountain bikes). Other attractions include the history-rich Golden Mile, the Old Gaol (jailhouse), The Chocolate Shop and the Bee & Honey Shop. A short drive away is the Wildebraam Berry Estate (guests can join in during the berry-picking season), the Sulina Faerie & Healing Sanctuary, and a nine-hole golf course.
Outdoor activities for adventure-seekers include river rafting on the Breede River, mountain biking, horse-riding and hiking trails. Children will enjoy a trip to The Swellendam Getaway Adventure Farm, where they can explore the maze, go on a tractor ride or enjoy some paintballing.
Where it is 1 Swellengrebel Street, Swellendam