Francois talks about their trip to CLOUDS ESTATE

Clouds Estate is a small boutique hotel on top of Helshoogte pass. This private estate is a working farm that produces its own wines. It also offers premium accommodation that blends designer luxury with all the mod-cons. A stylish destination surrounded by incredible views, a stay at Clouds Hotel & Villas is difficult to forget.

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Klein Collection (KC): How far is CLOUDS ESTATE from Cape Town?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE is about 50 km from Cape Town and located in the scenic Helshoogte pass just outside of Stellenbosch on your way to Franschhoek.

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KC: What made you decide to stay at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE has just been one of those places that I had on my personal bucket list of 5 star hotels in the Cape Winelands that we wanted to experience.

KC: What was your first impression of CLOUDS ESTATE on arrival?

Francois: Location, Location, Location! CLOUDS ESTATE is located on the top of the mountain, with an impressive entrance and beautiful surroundings with clean line architecture.

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KC: What was the service like?

Francois: CLOUDS ESTATE staff focused on making us feel at home from the first second we arrived with a welcome drink/ coffee at the patio area overlooking the valley, serving us popcorn when we ordered a DVD in our room the evening and also placing a warm water bottle in our bed as part of the turndown. Small things do make a difference!

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KC: Is it child friendly?

Francois: I think that CLOUDS ESTATE is more appropriate for adults or families with children older than 12 years old. 11698502_876465392439551_3551474548900847632_n

KC: What activities are offered at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: Enjoy a glass of CLOUDS ESTATE’s own wine selection, relax at the pool with one of the best views in South Africa or go for a lunch, dinner or a wine excursion to one of the many renowned neighbours next to COULDS ESTATE (Tokara or Delaire Graff as examples).

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KC: What was the food like?

Francois:  The breakfast at CLOUDS ESTATE was brilliant. We went for a 8 km run before breakfast and did not feel guilty to try everything on offer on the buffet J. The salmon eggs benedict is the one to have.

KC: What was the highlight of your stay at CLOUDS ESTATE?

Francois: Feeling that you are on top of the world at CLOUDS ESTATE – high up the mountains. The private Jacuzzi outside with warm bubbly water and cold morning mist outside.

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KC: What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois: Bring your running/ walking shoes or mountain bike along if you like exercise.

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KC: Who is CLOUDS ESTATE ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Romantic breakaways, exclusive corporate meetings (CLOUDS ESTATE accommodates 12 single rooms and up to 50 conference delegates)

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  4
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

 

Should CLOUDS ESTATE sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

 

Francois talks about their trip to SPIER

Spier is one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms dating back to 1692, this farm is rich in history and remains a special place to anyone who visits. Located about 40km from Cape Town, you’ll find this historic farm on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What made you decide to stay at SPIER?

Francois: SPIER is ideal for us as we have kids (two boys aged 6 and 8). The large natural open spaces, great facilities and scenic surroundings.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was your first impression of SPIER on arrival?

Francois: It’s actually very close to Cape Town! SPIER is located in the wine capital of South Africa and has a farm feel to it. On arrival we were greeted with warm friendly smiles from the staff which is always the best way to start a stay.

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the service like?

Francois: The staff at SPIER were very friendly and attentive to all our needs. They are particularly good with children (e.g. entertaining the kids while the parents take a deserving break).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Is it child friendly?

Francois: Yes, SPIER accommodates families with children of all ages, with a variety of activities and facilities to keep kids occupied. The food for the children was also good and I loved the fact that there was a grape juice tasting on offer when we as adults did the wine tasting. On the morning of our check out from the SPIER hotel, our youngest son immediately asked: “When can be come here again?”2015-06-20 15.01.49 2015-06-20 11.58.15-1
Klein Collection (‘K.C’): 
What activities are offered at SPIER?

Francois: Activities offered onsite at Spier are as follows:

  • Segway tours: Take a tour of the vineyard on your very own Segway PT – a two-wheeled, self-balancing electric vehicle.
  • Wine tasting and chocolate pairing (highly recommended)
  • Eagle encounter (very educational and was great for our kids)
  • Local art being on display throughout SPIER (insprirational)
  • A spa (beauty treatments and massages)
  • Food (wonderful selection of restaurants, deli and picnic baskets)

 

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the food like?

Francois: Food quality at SPIER is top class and they make a conscious effort to cater for the children’s tastes as well. EIGHT Restaurant prides itself in the fact that most of the ingredients in the meals served, are locally produced on the SPIER farm.

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Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What was the highlight of your stay at SPIER?

Francois: The overall openness and spaces to walk and cycle, value for money and how our children enjoyed every bit of our stay.2015-06-19 16.42.37

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): What should potential visitors take note of

Francois: Be ready to want to make SPIER a regular place to visit (at least once a year for 2 nights).

Klein Collection (‘K.C’): Who is SPIER ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois: Anyone really – but SPIER is great for small or large groups and people with kids.

 

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

 

Should SPIER sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Experience the Luxury Boutique Hotel, AtholPlace

AtholPlace is a small luxury boutique hotel located in the cosmopolitan
northern suburb of Atholl in Johannesburg.

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Stephanus talks about their trip to the luxurious AtholPlace.

KC:  How far is AtholPlace from Johannesburg?

Stephanus:  It is conveniently located about 30 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport in the upmarket neighbourhood of Sandton. It boasts many trees, as Johannesburg is renown for.  The Gautrain metro is less than a kilometer from the hotel and Sandton Central is only about 5 minutes’ drive away.

KC:  What made you decide to stay at AtholPlace?

AtholPlaceStephanus:  My wife is Mrs South Africa 2014 and we had to attend some events in Johannesburg. I saw that as a great opportunity for us to visit AtholPlace, because I’ve always wanted to go there – heard so many good things about it – but they used to have a no-children policy. Our children didn’t join us on this trip, so we thought – this is our chance! The great news, however, is that the hotel is under new management (and fantastic management I might add) and that they’ve recently adapted their child policy to make the boutique hotel more family-friendly.

KC:  What was your first impression of AtholPlace on arrival?

Stephanus:  We arrived rather late, but the receptionist (Catherine, or Cath as she’d like to call herself) received us with a warm welcome with welcoming drinks, an orientation tour, etc. She helped us settle into our room, and even helped carry our bags, something that the old-fashioned ‘boerseun’ in me found rather odd, but she insisted. We had the option of eating at the hotel’s restaurant, but we actually decided to order Italian food from a nearby restaurant that she recommended and dine in the room. She downloaded the restaurant’s menu and placed our order. My wife and I then collected our meal in Sandton. When we got back, we discovered that she had already prepared everything for us – she even had the foresight to provide us with salad dressing, something which the restaurant forgot to include with our salad.

KC:  What was the service like?

Stephanus:  The service was flawless. Really, we couldn’t fault it. You felt at home, but you also felt extremely spoilt and that every detail is taken care of. Each and every staff member was extremely friendly, professional and courteous.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Stephanus:  It is, although it’s not a family-oriented hotel per se. It’s not as if it’s got a bunch of things for kids to do – no jungle gym in the garden or anything like that. It’s too stylish for that, but having said that, it’s not that they dislike kids. In fact, as mentioned earlier, they’ve adapted their child-policy to make the hotel more child friendly. It’s just that children might get a bit bored there, I guess. Also, the pool in the beautiful garden outside doesn’t have any fence around it, so just be aware of that if you’ve got little kids and they’re playing on the lawn.

KC:  What activities are offered at AtholPlace?

Stephanus:  There aren’t really any major on-site activities at AtholPlace, but it’s not as if it’s an issue, because the hotel is so lovely, you won’t want to do anything besides sit in the lounge, dining room or in the landscaped garden and read a good book or enjoy the delicious food prepared by the in-house chef.AtholPlace

KC:  What was the food like?

Stephanus:  It was great. Some hotels overdo the breakfast by having massive buffets. The food feels mass produced. It doesn’t feel that way at AtholPlace. It was simple, yet had all the elements of a great breakfast – fresh fruit, muesli and yoghurt, eggs benedict and other lovely warm dishes, etc. Some people might want to see more cold meats and a greater cheese selection, but personally I didn’t feel the breakfast lacked anything.AtholPlace

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at AtholPlace?

Stephanus:  It’s really hard to choose one thing in particular, but honestly, I have never stayed in a place with such a lovely interior. I simply love what the interior decorator (Sumari Krige from La Grange Interiors) achieved there. It’s almost like they’ve gone for a modern look, but one that exudes warmth, contrasting rustic elements with white backdrops. We also thought that the staff were particularly friendly, the ‘sincere’ type of friendly that you hardly find nowadays.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Stephanus:  It isn’t cheap, but if budget isn’t an issue, it’s great value and you won’t regret staying there. It’s definitely my favourite urban boutique hotel by far. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in a number of great places, so that says a lot. AtholPlace is really incredible in every respect.

KC:  Who is AtholPlace ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Stephanus:  Everyone who loves an authentic, chic, yet extremely stylish boutique hotel will be at home here. It’s a very intimate experience (they only have 10 suites), so it’s for people who want to enjoy a tranquil escape, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Highly recommended for couples, because this is the type of place you would want to share with someone special.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Food  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should AtholPlace sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Welcome to South Hill

The Venue at South Hill Vineyards nestles at the eastern end of the picturesque Elgin Valley. Surrounded by the Kogelberg Mountains, neighbouring orchards, pine forests and the farm’s own vineyards, The Venue is a very special place.

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Francois talks about their trip to South Hill.

KC:  How far is South Hill from Cape Town?

Francois:  About 45 minutes drive from Cape Town located in the beautiful Elgin Valley – known for fresh produce (especially apples and pears)

KC:  What made you decide to stay at South Hill?

Francois:  I have heard great things about the guest house on the South Hill farm and took the opportunity to experience the villa myself – with my wife, Carien and our two boys (James and Francois).

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KC:  What was your first impression of South Hill on arrival?

Francois:  Wow – scenic setting, fresh air, farm size open spaces and privacy – and all of it just for us to enjoy for two full days!

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  We felt like we were visiting friends who own a wine farm – Sandy welcomed us with a warm and friendly smile and guided us through all the villa’s facilities and features.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, the villa accommodated us perfectly and our children had space to play outside – and play games inside in front of the large fire place in the evenings.

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KC:  What activities are offered at South Hill?

Francois:  South Hill is a wine farm and the wine tasting is a must if you enjoy good wine. The Villa is also stocked with South Hill’s wine – so you can have your own wine tasting while having a bite to eat in your private space. There is also a restaurant on the farm and the Old Mac Daddy trailer experience is just across the road with a restaurant on site as well.

KC:  What was the food like?

Francois:  The facilities in the villa are really top end and any chef would feel right at home (and inspired) to cook up a storm. All I can say is that we ate well!

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KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at South Hill?

Francois:  Quality time with my family in front of the fire place in the villa, surrounded by nature – enjoying good wine from the South Hill wine cellar.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  You should stay here at least two nights – and you can bring friends along (there is lots of space to accommodate two families in the villa) if you are not seeking a private weekend away.

KC:  Who is South Hill ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  People who love the farm living idea and want to experience living in a luxurious farm house for a night or two – cook, eat, sleep and relax.

Point out of 5
Service  5
Location  5
Facilities  5
Décor  5
Attention to detail  5
Value for money  5

Should South Hill sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Bluebells Cottage

Bluebells is just a brisk stroll away from the centre of Greyton; a town known for its delightful coffee shops, top restaurants and interesting corners filled with arts and crafts. Every Saturday from 10 to 12 you will find the locals and visitors streaming to the morning market where locally produced or harvested treats and fresh produce are sold.
                                                                       
Francois talks about their family trip to Greyton.

KC:  How far is Bluebells from Cape Town?

Francois:  Bluebells is located in Greyton, a peaceful and picturesque village in the Overberg region about 150 kilometers from Cape Town.

KC:  What made you decide to stay at Bluebells?

Francois:  Myself, Carien and the two boys have been to Bluebells in 2012 for the first time and we have been hooked ever since. Bluebells offers something really unique – allowing us as a family to connect, relax and spend quality time together.

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KC:  What was your first impression of Bluebells on arrival?

Francois:  We are home (although we do not own the house…)

KC:  What was the service like?

Francois:  Bluebells is a self-catering cottage – the check-in procedure and cleaning services offered was friendly and efficient.

KC:  Is it child friendly?

Francois:  Yes, Bluebells and Greyton as a whole are meant for children. The gravel roads to walk or cycle and the random free roaming horses makes this place a paradise for children – my kids loved it!

KC:  What activities are offered at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  Bluebells is walking distance from Greyton’s top restaurants, art galleries and more. The cottage is well equipped and we ended up buying fresh goods in Greyton and then cooked up a storm every evening – with the fire burning in the back ground (and kids playing snakes and ladders in the lounge – and not staring at the IPAD )

KC:  What was the food like?

Francois:  Greyton offers a good selection of restaurants and if you do not feel like cooking yourself – Bluebells is a hop skip and jump from where you want to be!

KC:  What was the highlight of your stay at Bluebells?

Bluebells Cottage

Francois:  The time with Carien and the two boys in the evenings in front of the fire – just the slow pace of the surrounds and quality time with my loved ones.

KC:  What should potential visitors take note of?

Francois:  You need to stay for at least 3 nights – and you will be back!

KC:  Who is Bluebells ideal for (i.e. The type of client you would sell this product to)?

Francois:  People wanting to escape from the hustle and bustle of normal city life and want to connect with their loved ones in a rustic unpretentious environment.

Point out of 5
Service  4
Location  5
Facilities  4
Décor  4
Attention to detail  4
Value for money  5

Should Bluebells sound like music to your ears, contact Klein Collection at info@kleincollection.com to book your stay.

Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby.

Earth Lodge is like no other place. If you’re thinking warm colonial touches, kudu leather couches and zebra skin carpets as your idea of a safari lodge, forget it. Earth lodge is an assault on the senses, a monstrous statement, a wild experiment.

And we love it. Cast out of cement, river sand and straw, the lodge has a cave-like quality, while the furnishings are even more outlandish than the architecture. Driftwood from floods has been sculpted and polished and made into furniture and individual pieces of art, with mesmerising results. The bar, for example, comprises a large chunk of a dead tree, so extensive it’s integrated into the actual structure of the building, its contortions so convoluted it would have been impossible to design.

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Exquisite interior of our suite, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

We were so busy marveling at this that we almost missed the a la carte lunch so it blended into afternoon tea with an array of delicious cakes, before being introduced to our guide Marcus and tracker Louis for our afternoon game drive.

As the name suggests, Sabi Sabi is situated in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, bordering Kruger National park, the uncontested jewel of safari areas in South Africa. After an assortment of plains game and a sunset G&T it was starting to look like a quiet afternoon, until tracker Louis made a miraculous spot – the ears of a leopard crouched in the long grass some way from the road.

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Leopard, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

Driving off-road, we followed him for 15 minutes as the dusk turned to night, stalking into a dry river-bed, while a troop of monkeys in the tree above screeched their fury at the deadly intruder. There are many places you see the Big 5, but if you want more than a fleeting chance of seeing this majestic animal, Sabi Sand is about the only place to come.

Dinner at Earth Lodge is a lavish affair. Each night’s venue can be somewhere different – under the stars in the boma, the intimacy of the library, or even the elaborate wine cellar. Our 5-course extravaganza of Prawns, Pear & Gorgonzola soup, Spring Rolls, Lamb Rack, Pork Belly and Chocolate Fondant was under the stars, attended to by our jovial and excellent waiter George.

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Dining is a lavish, decadent experience at Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

The staff at Earth Lodge are worthy of extra mention. At many top lodges, even in the very highest price bracket, staff will be competent but wooden, where you’ll feel comfortable but not at home. At Earth lodge, the hospitality comes naturally, and the barmen and waiters don’t need to ask your name: they know it already, and they don’t forget.

From afar, the well-spaced suites resemble termite mounds, little earth domes protruding from sunken caves, and inside too, with the earth-like, straw-textured walls and small skylights sending shafts of sunlight into the dark interior. The suites actually blend in so well that it is not unheard of to spot lions perched on the rooftops. Keep an eye out…

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Solitude, peace and out-there architecture, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge

The furnishings are minimalist but very comfortable, with the same driftwood theme that characterizes the main lodge. Outside you can perch on a huge sculpted Leadwood bench next to the plunge pool, or relax on comfy loungers set in the bushveld itself. All with absolute privacy.

At 6am next morning sleep is interrupted (I was dreaming of giant termites invading our suite) by our wake-up call for the morning drive, and after a pre-breakfast we’re off into the cold, winter sunrise. Hornbills sit motionless in the trees until the weak sun warms their feathers and starts to warm us too, on our way to find rhino and wild dog.

Sabi Earth lodge, Sabi Sabi’s flagship lodge, is more than a statement, it’s a declaration. In their own philosophy, its futuristic lines represent ‘Tomorrow’. The nearby Bush Lodge and Little Bush Lodge represent ‘Today’ and it’s here that you’ll find your traditional contemporary, quintessential African safari themes. Bush Lodge is big, with outstanding child facilities, while Little Bush Lodge is small and intimate, with just six chalets.

Finally, Selati lodge is themed on the historic Selati railway line that ran close by, full of colonial charm and memorabilia from this golden age, and represents ‘Yesterday’. (It also overlooks a cracker of a waterhole, with great game close to the lodge).

But if it’s your thing, the prize is for Tomorrow.

Good for: Big splash out, something you can’t experience anywhere else.

Not so good for: Intimate, cosy feel (although if this is your thing, Little Bush Lodge offers plenty of it).

Our verdict: Out-of-this age architecture, something genuinely astonishing in South Africa’s premier game viewing reserve.

Nottens Bush Camp, Sabi Sand Reserve

Review by Jonathan and Sophie Ellaby

When most people think of Sabi Sand Reserve, they think big, 5-star safari lodges with a price tag to match. Think again. Tucked away in a little corner is this family-run gem, where rustic charm replaces extravagant luxury.

At Nottens, things are done the way they’ve been done for years – yet nothing about this lodge feels dated, including the wonderful staff, some of whom have been at Nottens for decades. Dale, the assistant general manager and a member of the Notten family, has been coming here all his life and from talking to him you sense the pride that he and his family takes in the place.

Despite being the most affordable lodges in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve Nottens provides a top-notch safari experience with the most low-key, heart-warming and incredibly hospitable atmosphere we’ve experienced for a long time. On our first day at the delectable buffet lunch, all our fellow guests swing by our table to introduce themselves – informality is the order of the day at Nottens. And that’s wonderfully refreshing!

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View from main lounge area, Nottens Bush Camp.

Although Nottens is on a small concession within Sabi Sand, traversing rights are shared with neighbouring Sabi Sabi so guests have access to a large game viewing area, and guides all share information on sightings. On our first game-drive with our excellent guide, Thomas, we are lucky to see a large pride of 11 lions all sharpening their claws on the same tree, perhaps in preparation for their next meal…

Back home (and at Nottens, it quickly feels like it), we freshen up for dinner in our tastefully decorated, candlelit room. All suites do have electricity, but no lights are fitted, which means lighting sources are from paraffin lamps and candles. This is as it’s always been – no fuss, no frills, just you and the African bush. The suites are nicely spaced and overlook the waterhole in front of the lodge; and for those visiting in the heat of summer there is a beautiful lap and plunge pool to cool off in.

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Deck overlooking waterhole, Nottens Bush Camp.

For dinner we’re treated to a feast beyond expectation – Dale takes on the role of braai master while the rest of the kitchen cooks up a storm of a 4-course meal. The intimate feel of Nottens becomes particularly evident in the evenings, where guests dine together by candlelight at one long table in a cosy dining room with a roaring fire in the background. The African bush tends to draw together like-minded people and we quickly find ourselves indulged in fascinating conversations. One of our fellow guests is a 93-year old ex-WW2 glider pilot, bolt upright and sharp as nails, it all made for a lively evening.

The following morning a flask of hot water is delivered to our room along with that (very early) wake-up call. The essential pre-game-drive coffee or tea is also available in the lounge should you not wish to make your own. We set off in the cold on our last game drive and are rewarded with very close-up sightings of white rhino along with antelope and giraffe – and as we drive back into camp, a large herd of zebras come gallivanting down to have a drink at the lodge’s waterhole.

After a scrumptious breakfast we go for a very entertaining and rewarding bush walk with Joseph, the oldest (and wisest!) guide at Nottens. Walking in the wild African bush is always a highlight for us, learning about the smaller things. And we were deeply impressed not only by the level of Joseph’s knowledge but also by his legendary incredible animal sound impersonations!

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White rhino on morning game drive, Nottens Bush Camp.

All in all, it became evident to us (after only one night’s stay!) that the bush heart beats loud and clear at Nottens. The lodge, and many of its staff, have been around for decades and guests come back year after year. Before long you’ll also feel part of the Nottens family. And when that magical experience comes at a very affordable price, you have a winner on your hands. We were deeply impressed by the low-key atmosphere and intimacy of the lodge – and its sense of timelessness and familiarity will stay with us for long time.

Good for: Families, bush lovers, value-for-money

Not so good for: Luxury extravaganza

Our verdict: Quaint, old-school feel and great value in South Africa’s top safari area.