This old town will give you a new lease on life.
In a valley at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains lies South Africa’s third oldest town, its thatch-roof Cape Dutch houses having borne witness to nearly 300 years of stories. Founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1745, Swellendam began as a frontier outpost; an essential supply point for traders and explorers looking to push further inland from their base of operations at the Cape. With the arrival of British settlers in the early 19th century, it grew into a major trading hub, and later a thriving agricultural district. Today, it’s the location of over 50 provincial heritage sites, and a popular stop-off point for travellers looking to explore the Garden Route.
But the spirit of discovery still remains in Swellendam. Just as Dutch explorers once saw it as the gateway to uncharted lands, so travellers today revel in its rich heritage and natural beauty. These country getaways showcase what Swellendam has to offer, and will leave guests feeling well-rested and ready for the road ahead, just as it once did for the tradesmen of old.
1. Schoone Oordt
This Victorian-style mansion (straight out of Gone With The Wind) was lovingly converted into a boutique hotel by charming hosts Alison and Richard Walker. 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.
The rooms 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 over-sized 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 six, with a king-sized 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.
Finally, there’s the Honeymoon Suite, set beside the Koornlands River on the edge of a forest, with a carved four-poster bed, a capacious bathroom and a large fireplace to add to 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.
On the day we left, our mud-splattered car received a full valet car wash.
Nearby attractions 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 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.
Cost Luxury rooms: R2 200 – R3 150 (depending on season)
Honeymoon Suite / Family Cottage: R3 150 – R4 000 (depending on season)
Check availability + Book Direct
Where it is 1 Swellengrebel Street, Swellendam
2. Roosje van de Kaap
This accolade-accruing guesthouse and restaurant is well-positioned, close to the Drostdy Museum complex. The grand old dame, named after the Malay slave, Herberg Roosje, dates back to 1780 and not only offers beautifully adorned bedrooms, a lush garden and pool, it also comes with an award-winning restaurant where candlelit à la carte dinners are the pleasurable order of the day.
The rooms Hands-on owners, Freerk and Helpi Brandsma have lovingly restored and renovated the old building and surrounds. The estate now boasts 14 bedrooms, including six garden rooms, five luxury garden rooms and three luxury garden cottages. Each of the bedrooms offers plush seclusion, along with hi-tech facilities (including fast internet and flat screen tv’s). Rooms offer either a double, twin or king-size bed and en-suite shower or “slipper” bath and afford beautiful mountain views.
Lie of the land The renovations have seen the estate double in size. Other additions include a second 13-metre pool with a pool lounge at the head, as well as 10 secure inside parking places.
Above and beyond The newly renovated reed-ceiling restaurant, with its candlelit atmosphere and eclectic menu (consisting of everything from traditional Cape Malay to classic French reductions), will tempt you back in time to the 18th and 19th century, as you enjoy food to suit every palate and culinary style.
Nearby attractions As well as being practically next door to the Drostdy Museum, Roosje van de Kaap is in the most historic and tourist-centric part of town, with all major shops, eateries and even the Marloth Nature Reserve (great for hiking) within walking distance.
Some five kilometres away is the Bontebok National Park, while the endlessly beautiful De Hoop Nature Reserve (famous for its remote, desolate beaches and whale watching in the turquoise seas) is only a 45-minute drive away.
R950 – R 1 400 per room, per night (depending on season, includes a generous home-cooked breakfast)
Check availability + Book Direct
Where it is 5 Drostdy Street, Swellendam, Western Cape
3. Bloom Estate
This secluded country estate offers luxurious, modern-Dutch accommodation in tranquil surroundings. The expansive grounds offer peace and solitude for those in search of a relaxing retreat, but its proximity to the winelands and several nature reserves makes it the perfect base for adventure-seekers, too. Warm, hospitable (and stylish) Dutch hosts Carla and Maarten van der Ven have brought a wealth of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry to this small Western Cape town.
The rooms The accommodation is pared-down and chic, with all the mod cons you’d expect. Of the seven rooms, there’s a romantic red cloud room and six family-friendly luxury garden rooms.
All rooms have either a king-size or a twin bed, with an en-suite bathroom, air conditioning and underfloor heating, a minibar, and a private patio with unobstructed views of the Overberg mountains, as well as free wi-fi and DStv.
Lie of the land The 2.5-hectare estate offers a combination of wide open spaces and rolling landscapes. As well as the seven garden rooms, there’s the main house where delicious breakfasts are served daily (lunches and small platters are available on request), a guest lounge with a covered terrace, bar and a library of books; a spa; saltwater swimming pool, and a covered outdoor Jacuzzi.
Above and beyond The estate boasts its own Citrus Orchard with 150 trees.
Nearby attractions Enjoy a hike in the Langeberg Mountains, wine tasting in Robertson Wine Valley, horse riding at one of the nearby farms or whale watching at the beaches of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Your hosts Carla and Maarten are extremely knowledgeable about nearby restaurants and activities and are happy to make recommendations.
Cost Luxury garden rooms: R750 – R1 150 (depending on season)
Red cloud room: R900 – R1 395 (depending on season)
Check availability + Book Direct
Where it is 276 Voortrek Street, Swellendam
4. Rothman Manor
Situated right next to an eco-reserve, where zebra and springbok roam in full view of the estate’s expansive gardens, lies a collection of classic Cape Dutch thatched houses dating back to 1834. The African-themed decor coupled with Cape Dutch architecture creates a unique flavour, while in the gardens outside, a peaceful koi pond and fairy statues provide a mystical feel.
The rooms The estate offers three luxury rooms (Loft Suite, Suite Morning Sky and Suite Esprit); two standard rooms (Suite Africa and Suite Romance); and a cosy twin bedroom intended for short-term occupants (Cane Room).
All rooms have king-size beds and en-suite bathrooms, while the luxury suites have private balconies overlooking the gardens, and the Loft Suite also has its own kitchen and sitting area. The smaller Cane Room has a patio facing the pool and garden.
All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, free wi-fi, a shower and underfloor heating. The standard and luxury rooms also have minibars and baths
Lie of the land In the estate’s gardens you’ll find a shaded lounging area overlooking the pond, with a Jacuzzi and a view of the nearby eco-reserve. There’s also a saltwater swimming pool to cool off on hot days.
Nearby attractions Wandering through the gardens feels like an adventure in itself, with the abundant flora resembling a miniature forest, so you never have to leave the estate to feel the immersive benefits of Nature. Should you wish to venture out, nearby nature reserves include the Bontebok National Park, De Hoop Nature Reserve and the Marloth Nature Reserve. The estate is within easy reach of the town, as well as the Robertson Wine Valley.
Cost Loft Suite: R2 900
Luxury room: R2 600
Standard room: R2 100
Cane Room: R1 500
Where it is 268 Voortrek Street, Swellendam
5. Jan Harmsgat Country House
Somewhere between Bonnievale, Swellendam and Montagu, this secluded country house, dating back to 1723, lies on a 680-hectare of fruit and nut farm. The terrace overlooking the pecan grove, and Langeberg mountains in the distance, is a decidedly lovely place to sit and enjoy a glass of vino – or better still a freshly pressed pomegranate juice, manufactured right here on the farm.
Currently owned by former Miss South Africa Amy Kleinhans-Curd and her New Zealand-born husband Leighton Curd, the guesthouse is imbued with her feminine touch, most notably at the in-house eponymous restaurant, Just Amy.
The rooms The elegant and utterly comfortable accommodation exudes historic charm, with authentic period pieces and large contemporary portraits adding interest. Situated in the original Cape Dutch-era slave quarters, The Classic Quarters comprise four rooms and two communal lounges, and include an honesty bar, private courtyard and salt-water swimming pool.
The Executive Suite, housed above the original wine cellar, has its own staircase leading to an attic with views of the mountains and pecan grove. The two Executive Family Suites are situated in a separate building adjacent to the main house. One of the rooms has a large porch area for private dining and lounging. All rooms have flat-screen TVs, DStv, free wi-fi, and tea and coffee facilities.
Lie of the land Despite its tranquil country setting, the guesthouse is utterly child-friendly, with miles and miles of pecan grove and fruit orchards for the kids to get lost in. Keep an eye out for black wildebeest, ostriches and grey rheebok that roam the area. There’s also an outdoor play area, near the terrace, where kiddies can dig in the sandpit, and play on the swings and jungle gym while adults relax nearby. There’s also a salt-water swimming pool for summertime splashes.
Above and beyond Even though it’s located close to the highway, the authentic working-farm setting is rejuvenating. Nearby attractions Enjoy a picnic under the pecan trees, go on a winelands tour of the area, or get back to nature with one of the many hiking trails in the area.
Cost Classic Quarters: R2 470 – R2 847 per night (depending on season)
Superior Suites: R2 657 – R3 000 per night (depending on season)
Executive Suites: R2 910 – R3 360 per night (depending on season)
Executive Family Suites: R4 145 – R5 000 per night (depending on season)
Rates valid until 30 April 2018
Contact 087 095 1141, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address R60 District Bonnievale/Drew
6. De Kloof
This charming Cape Dutch boutique hotel nestled into the Langeberg mountainside, and within walking distance of the town centre, is a historic jewel. Built in 1801, its original floors, ceilings and thick whitewashed walls have since been restored and preserved, and the building was declared a national monument in 1985. With panoramic views of the Langeberg Mountains, old oak trees dotted around the property, and rose and lavender bushes at every turn, it’s near-impossible not to relax during a stay here.
The rooms Although the architecture is classic, the decor is modern in all seven suites, which are fitted with spacious beds, climate control, mood lighting, wi-fi, a pillow library (yes, that’s a real thing), and large en-suite bathrooms.
Lie of the land During the warmer months, floating around the 12-metre-long pool comes highly recommended, after which you’d do well to lounge on a poolside sunbed with a glass of bubbly in hand. The inhouse spa offers various beauty treatments and massages, and the restaurant can whip up a range of fresh and (mostly) organic meals, snacks, tapas, picnic hampers and high teas. Regrettably, the hotel has a no-child policy (children under the age of eight are permitted by prior arrangement).
Above and beyond Be sure to check out the hotel’s generous wedding package, which includes accommodation for up to 20 people, a five-course lunch or dinner, and a night’s stay for the married couple on their first-year anniversary.
Nearby attractions Potter around the Swellendam open market on the first Saturday of the month, or take a short drive to Montagu for its Saturday-morning market. On Monday evenings, book one of the telescopes at Wildebraam Berry Estate and enjoy some spectacular stargazing. Or take a historical stroll through the town, and refuel at one of the many local eateries.
Cost Luxury rooms: R1 155 – R1 530 (per person sharing, depending on season)
Deluxe suites: R1 295 – R1 670 (per person sharing, depending on season)
Manor extra-large suite: R1 535 – R1 910 (per person sharing, depending on season)
Honeymoon suite: R1 750 – R2 125 (per person sharing, depending on season)
Family suite: R3 995 (per unit, depending on season)
Check availability + Book Direct
Where it is 8 Weltevrede street, Swellendam, Western Cap
7. Augusta de Mist
Set in the historic Drostdy Quarter of Swellendam, this two-hectare former rose farm – now a luxurious guesthouse – is a haven of peace and tranquility.
The rooms The six luxury suites are dressed in an eclectic mix of African and antique decor, and each has its own private veranda, fireplace, climate control, music station and board games.
Lie of the land The expansive garden – with rose and lavender bushes, and an abundance of fynbos – is perfect for exploring, and contains a delightful kitchen garden where rosemary, oreganum, lemongrass, pomegranate shrubs and gooseberries are grown. The saltwater swimming pool is deliciously inviting in summer, while the private wine cellar beckons in winter (for a glass of vino and a generous cheese platter).
Above and beyond The inhouse restaurant, Augusta’s African Kitchen, with its multi-course prix fixe menu will wow. Expect delectable dishes such as chicken breyani, springbok carpaccio, lamb bobotie, Karoo porchetta, with some of the vegetables and herbs coming straight out of the garden.
Nearby attractions De Hoop Nature Reserve has pristine beaches and offers excellent whale watching. Or, explore the Bontebok National Park, a mere seven kilometres outside Swellendam.
Cost R1 320 – R2 500 (per person sharing, depending on season, includes breakfast)
Check availability + Book Direct
Where it is 3 Human Street, Swellendam, Western Cape
8. Gaikou Lodge
At the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, within walking distance of the Swellendam village centre, this idyllic farm is like a painting come to life. Set beside a peaceful river, surrounded by forests and with magnificent mountain ranges as the backdrop, this retreat welcomes families as well as business travellers.
The rooms The lodge offers eight luxury suites that are tailor-made for couples or business people. For families, two private villas offer ample space, and an experience the children won’t soon forget. Each has two bedrooms, a lounge, kitchenette and private veranda, with enviable views of the countryside. All rooms and villas are equipped with heating, air-conditioning, DStv, a minibar, and tea and coffee facilities.
Lie of the land Hi-tech facilities and a well-equipped conference venue are available for corporate functions, and the estate can also be booked for weddings. It even has its own private helicopter landing pad!
The Mardouw Olive Country House has a veranda where breakfast is served daily (lunch, dinner and braai functions are also available on request). The 16-hectare estate also has a chlorine-free swimming pool and a Jeu De Boules court (a French ball game, similar to bowls).
Nearby attractions Try your hand at fishing in one of the dams on the estate, or take a gentle stroll along the river, where you’ll be able to spot a variety of bird life. When you’re ready to experience what Swellendam has to offer, the town centre is short walk away, and the magnificent Marloth Nature Reserve can be explored by foot or on horseback.
Cost Family villa: R3 180 – R4 100 (depending on season)
Luxury room: R1 055 – R2 450 (depending on season)
Contact 028 514 1133, email@example.com
Where it is 69 Berg Street, Swellendam
Situated in the historic centre of Swellendam, this luxurious bed and breakfast is the perfect getaway for couples seeking a tranquil retreat that’s not too far from local restaurants and attractions. Mountain views, a large saltwater swimming pool and a manicured Provençal-style garden mean you don’t really have to leave the property.
The rooms All four rooms have a distinct French-country feel, with exposed wooden ceiling beams and stone floors. The three pool-facing cottages mean you can saunter from the comfort of your room to the pool’s edge for an afternoon sun session. They all have private patios, ceiling fans, a minibar, and wi-fi. The Room with a View is attached to the main house and features a romantic French balcony.
Lie of the land Enquire at reception about picnic baskets that can be arranged for you to enjoy in a nearby park. Mountain bikes can also be hired for those adventurous enough to tackle the Langeberg Mountain trails.
Nearby attractions Just a short drive away is the Robertson Wine Valley, renowned for some of the best wines – and festivals – in the country.
Cost R1 200 – R1 550 (per room, depending on season, includes breakfast)
Contact 028 514 2406, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where it is 13 Drostdy Street, Swellendam, Western Cape
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