The Post Office, Rosendal
I’d never heard of Rosendal until a few months ago, and now it’s the buzz town on everyone’s lips. This tiny dorp in the Free State has become the place to go for a weekend away, and in fact, many frazzled Gautengers are decamping there permanently to escape the rat race.
It has a handful of eateries, an art gallery, tennis and cycling clubs, and even a polo club in the nearby mountains. And that’s it, apart from miles of gorgeous countryside. Think bliss for burned-out city slickers, and safe for kids to play outside all day.
My top choice for accommodation is the old Post Office, a sturdy sandstone monument built in 1919. It’s been beautifully adapted for self-catering with some original features still intact, like an underground telecoms bunker converted into a wine cellar. Three en-suite bedrooms include four beds in the loft, sealed off by a trapdoor making a perfect den for kids. The open-plan ground floor has a kitchen, dining and lounge areas and a floor-to-ceiling library.
It’s owned by Douglas Mason, who has renovated various buildings including one that he’s transformed into a welcome wine bar.
12 Parsonage Street, Graaff-Reinet
Don’t just treat Graaff-Reinet as a milestone on the long drive between Joburg and Cape Town. This picturesque place in the Karoo is surrounded by Camdeboo National Park with spectacular mountains and the famous Valley of Desolation, with sheer cliffs and spectacular columns of dolerite rising from the valley.
As the fourth oldest town in the country, its historical centre boasts more than 200 National Monuments. One of them is 12 Parsonage Street, which was restored in 2018 as part of De Kothuize portfolio of Graaff Reinet Historic Properties. Parsonage Street is arguably the most historic and architecturally attractive street in the country, packed with Cape Dutch buildings, and Number 12 is one of its oldest and most spacious. It’s filled with antiques and has three en-suite bedrooms, a well-equipped kitchen as well as large dining and sitting rooms.
The garden has braai facilities and a swimming pool shared with the neighbours. Several good restaurants are a short stroll away.
Montagu Country Hotel, Montagu
If you’re heading to Montagu Country Hotel, don’t forget to pack your best 1930s cocktail outfit. Then you’ll be perfectly dressed for this sophisticated but quirky place that’s the only original Art Deco hotel in the country.
It was built in 1922, and you can admire its funky furniture as you sip Martinis in Feathers and Flatcaps cocktail lounge or dine in Charlestons restaurant while a pianist plays you some tunes.
The 29 en-suite rooms are individually decorated, and seven are pet-friendly. Two units are equipped for self-catering, but don’t miss the restaurant offering up treats like seared swordfish with saffron foam, and desserts like brown bread ice cream on salted caramel jelly with caramelised brioche. You can order simpler food too, but the chef enjoys putting on a performance.
Public areas include a small gallery displaying local art and gardens with a wellness centre and spa. The Montagu is part of Cape Country Routes (CCR), a collection of character-filled hotels.
Attractions in the area include antique shops, hiking in Langeberg Mountains, horse-riding and wine tasting in the gorgeous Klein Karoo winelands.
Montagu Country Hotel
27 Bath Street, Montagu
Costs from R1,215. A dinner, bed and breakfast special costs R785 per person sharing.
Email: [email protected]
Well-heeled visitors abandoned the beaches of Durban years ago and went north to Umhlanga. Now the cognoscenti are being enticed even further up the coastline by the relaxed seaside village of Umdloti.
The accommodation is mostly private rentals by owners who had the foresight to buy-to-rent in this upcoming destination. I stayed a five-minute drive from the beach in a lovely unit in the Surfside complex. The décor in our 3-bedroom apartment had a jaunty nautical theme, and I managed to wangle the en-suite bedroom. That bedroom and the lounge have sliding glass doors opening onto a garden set on a coastal dune, and you can sometimes see dolphins frolicking or if you’re lucky, you can watch the whales without leaving your sun-lounger.
The warm Indian Ocean is great for year-round swimming, and a large tidal pool is a safe place for kids, who’ll love the rockpools too.
Umdloti Beach Shopping Centre has shops and several restaurants, and Mundo Vida Italian restaurant is particularly good. Grab a table on the upstairs deck, crack open a bottle of bubbly and chill while gazing at the sunset.
See what’s available on Airbnb, or book this unit directly from R1700 per night, with 10% discount for seven nights or more.
Gennine Inggs – Whatsapp : 083659527
Email : [email protected]
Thaba Eco Hotel, Klipriviersberg, Johannesburg
The first time you visit Thaba Eco Hotel, you’ll keep saying “I never expected this!”
This four-star hotel is surrounded by indigenous gardens, and many of its 52 luxurious bedrooms offer panoramic views of Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve through floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s amazing to look out over such beauty just a few kilometres from central Joburg.
The hotel’s name and design was influenced by Tswana settlements in the reserve dating back to 1300, and the whole place uses natural materials to create a kind of ‘kraal’ type village atmosphere.
Everything feels airy and spacious as you walk along the meditation trail, watch dassies playing, or eat on the open deck of the Kraal Restaurant. The menu offers a good selection of African-inspired dishes as well as pizzas food for kids. There’s a kids’ play area too, well out of earshot for the other guests. There’s a swimming pool and the Sinzinani Day Spa, and you can also take a guided walk or drive to learn about the trees, plants and animals and their role in the ecosystem. Eco-friendly features include a solar panel farm that supplies about a third of its electricity, recycling 93% of its waste, a worm farm to generate compost and water conservation through creative landscaping. The result is a hotel with an atmosphere that’s very special.
Impala Road, Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, Johannesburg
Rooms from R1,350 per night bed and breakfast.
Email: [email protected]