The Alphen Boutique Hotel – historic and hip

Join Kim and Francois as they pay a visit to The Alphen Boutique Hotel in Constantia, Cape Town’s upmarket suburb. The Alphen has recently been renovated by renowned architect, Stefan Antoni. The bold new interiors infuse new life into the hotel’s 300 years of history. One thing is certain – you’ll either love it or hate it. Watch the video below and share your thoughts with us.

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Banksia Boutique Hotel, Paddington and the Fat Cactus

Do you still remember Paddington? Whether you met him on TV, in a book or piecing him together out of a 1000 piece puzzle, most of us have pleasant memories of the friendly bear. But you have to admit, with his duffel coat, floppy hat and boots, Paddington Bear would look well out of place in a summery Cape Town.

Banksia Boutique Hotel and Paddington, the resident cat

Francois bonding with Paddington at Banksia Boutique Hotel in Cape Town

That is exactly why we were enchanted when we met our very own Cape Townian Paddington. A very special Persian cat, Paddington looks nothing like his name sake and even less like a cat. Living the royal life at the Banksia Boutique, Paddington spends more time at hairdressers than most women do, has featured in many a photo shoot and has even appeared on Top Billing. But Paddington adds a unique element to the offering of Banksia; the presence of such a large and fluffy friend makes you feel, in a strange way, at home.

In the leafy southern suburb of Rosebank (not to be confused with its more famous cousin in Johannesburg), you will discover the boutique hotel that Paddington calls home. Well hidden in this old residential area of Cape Town dotted with close knitted homes, finding Banksia Boutigue Hotel can be a challenge. Make sure you study the directions on the internet carefully and take down the establishment’s number, just in case…

When we recently returned from a Crocodile Dundee crossed with Tarzan African holiday, we longed for a place where we could unwind, relax and, perhaps most importantly, for a place where applying Tabard was not our main priority. The Banksia offered this sophisticated luxury without a cluttered feeling.

Banksia Boutique Hotel Exterior

Banksia Boutique Hotel Lawn and Exterior

Believed to be the old farmhouse on the Rosebank farm of yesteryear, the double storey Banksia Boutique Hotel has been beautifully renovated. It boasts a manicured garden and impressive indoor swimming pool in the glass-panelled aviary-like wing of the establishment. Two conference rooms cater for corporate functions Visitors can also look forward to the opening of a spa on the premises in February 2012.

Wonderful views over the lush Southern suburbs, the University of Cape Town’s campus and the backside of Table Mountain greeted us from our room (and sunken bath!).  With only eight rooms it presents overnighters with a quaint and private setting, an ideal night away for the Mr. and Mrs. The front balcony (although not child friendly) offers a panoramic view for a lazy afternoon with a cup of tea or a snack from the locally-sourced contents of the minibar in each room.

Banksia Boutique Hotel Living Room and Fireplace

Banksia Boutique Hotel Living Room and Fireplace

Despite the simplistic elegance of the Boutique, it was the secret surprises in and around Banksia that impressed us the most. One of these interesting aspects is that the Banksia is a display of the work of interior designer and owner, Shelley Kingston. This means that very little of what you see and touch is mass-manufactured, adding to the unique ambience of Banksia.

Walking distance from the Banksia you will find (which is now) our favourite Tex-Mex eatery, the Fat Cactus, in Klipfontein road. Make sure to satisfy your hunger and distinguish your thirst at this unique and special restaurant.

Ready for breakfast at Banksia Boutique Hotel

Ready for breakfast at Banksia Boutique Hotel

On your return, you will find your room turned down with soft romantic music seeping through the walls, while fresh rose petals await you in the bath. You can specify at which time you would like to enjoy breakfast, which means you don’t have to set an alarm for the following morning. With your delicious breakfast you also receive a one page wrap-up of the day’s news, just to keep you in touch with the outside world.

As the Banksia Boutique Hotel caters mostly for corporate clientele, holidaymakers will be able to enjoy a surprisingly peaceful getaway during the busy weeks over the festive season – you might even be lucky enough to have the entire house to yourself!

– Review by Klein Companions, Francois and Shané Barnard

Learn more about Banksia Boutique Hotel.

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Mosaic Farm: a truthful nature experience in Stanford

Mosaic Farm, Stanford

Mosaic Farm, Stanford

Dropping off the kids at my parents’ place in Paarl is a standard detour when my wife and I want to spend some time by ourselves. This time we incorporated the Boland scenic route into our trip to Stanford. Our destination? Mosaic Farm.

I took a shortcut, which landed us on a gravel road. Our desire for some peace and quite was tempered by what turned out to be a 4-hour journey. I should have listened to the GarMap voice prompts…

Finally the beautiful coastal farm village was visible from a distance. We made it, not on time, but still – we were there.

I love the authenticity of Stanford. It is as if you have turned back the clock of time and halved the normal pace of life. Small antiques, coffee shops, art and other interesting things greet you in the main road as you drive past.

View at Die Gat, Mosaic Farm

We arrived at Mosaic Farm and Nadine (the manager on duty) welcomed us with a warm smile. Our bags were taken care of while we were offered a welcome drink in the lounge. Nadine talked us through the list of activities that they offer, informed us about the dinner arrangements and also gave us some history of the place. The possibilities seemed endless: picnic on the beach, nature walks, cycle wine tour, kayaking on the lake, private dinner, and more. One thing was clear: we should have come for two nights! There were so many things to do and see and I wanted to experience them all.

Francois enjoying the outside shower at Mosaic Farm

Francois enjoying the outside shower at Mosaic Farm

We stayed in one of the free-standing lodge suites under the Milkwood trees. These beautifully designed and decorated units were built from stone and other natural materials sourced from the surrounding area. Our bedroom and deck overlooked the lagoon, positioned in a way to optimise privacy and views – with a rather daring outside shower…

The bird life at Mosaic Farm is overwhelming. Their songs created a fitting background to the silence of the nature reserve.

Carien having dinner at Mosaic Farm

Carien having dinner at Mosaic Farm

Our private dinner, with the chef introducing herself and taking us through the menu for the evening, is definitely a unique touch. There is no rush or time schedule here and we ended up having a 4 hour dinner – surrounded by the amazing views of nature, a warm fire place, friendly staff and just the two of us for a change… a winning recipe for a memorable experience.

Milkwood trees at Mosaic Farm

Milkwood trees at Mosaic Farm

As luck would have it – we were fortunate to meet the US-based owners Kathryn and Breese Johnson. With their love for God, nature and people, Mosaic Farm is truly their monument of what they stand for. They are the drivers behind outreach programs that uplift the local Stanford community by focusing on education, rehabilitation and job creation. The Johnsons are also highly committed to bringing the Stanford nature reserve back to its natural indigenous fauna and flora and they are continuously removing invasive trees – a massive project and investment!

Mosaic Farm also caters for exclusive weddings, conferences as well as team building break aways.

Outside deck at Mosaic Farm

Outside deck at Mosaic Farm

Therefore, the question is not whether you should come to Mosaic Farm, but rather whether you will be fortunate enough to experience this level of personal hospitality and service with God’s creation as the canvas. Mosaic Farm is ideal for those who want to connect to nature, looking for a honest and truthful setting where opulence is not the draw card.

Oh, and by the way – you have to go for lunch at Madre’s kitchen on the Sir Robert Stanford estate just outside the Stanford village. Their wines are also great and the tasting is free.

 

Need more information? Visit Mosaic Farm on Klein Collection’s website to view more property details, images and rates.

South Hill – the perfect honeymoon escape in Elgin

South Hill Guest House, Elgin Valley

South Hill Guest House, Elgin Valley

Driving rain, icy cold and howling wind… not exactly ideal weather conditions when escaping to the countryside, right?

Wrong.

For my wife and I, we couldn’t ask for anything better. You see, we were heading off to South Hill Wine Estate in Elgin, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Yes, Elgin might be an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, but for us, the mere prospect of escaping into the country for a night away was good enough.

The pool at South Hill guest house

The pool at South Hill guest house

Although South Hill is rated only 3 stars, in many respects I think it deserves more. It features a guest house, restaurant and wedding venue, wine tasting facilities, art gallery and a honeymoon cottage. The whole guest house can be rented out by groups. Alternatively, guests can rent the rooms individually. It has four en-suite bedrooms downstairs (each with single basins as well as a separate bath and shower) and one extremely spacious en-suite attic room upstairs, which is probably better suited for children. The open-plan lounge and fully fitted kitchen downstairs is accessible to all guests. Guests can also make use of the wood-fired pizza oven on the outside entertainment area, as well as the large swimming pool.

However, we chose to spend the night at South Hill’s honeymoon cottage called the Pump House Suite… well, the two of us and our baby girl, who, I guess, was simply too young to be left with her grandparents.

Chané, Ester and Stephanus

Chané, Ester and Stephanus

The baby cot was already set up by the time we arrived. We immediately helped ourselves to tea and home-made ‘beskuit‘ (the Afrikaans word for rusks) with chunks of chocolate… simply delicious! The rain ceased momentarily, so we quickly ventured outside onto the wooden jetty. Here we listened to the sounds of wild geese as the sun cast long shadows over the farm dam. This was indeed a tranquil place.

Pump House interior

Pump House interior

Fortunately the miserable weather outside was more than compensated for by the cosy interior inside the cottage. The Pump House suite features one en-suite bedroom with a lounge and a small kitchenette, all being open-plan (except for the bathroom). The lounge features a cute antique fireplace, but unfortunately it’s the type where you can’t see the actual fire (you close the metal door and then the heat eventually heats up the room). Large cushions are piled up next to the couches – very useful if you want to sit outside on the wooden jetty, perched over the farm dam. It is obvious that they definitely paid attention to the small details at South Hill: they have small lanterns for romantics who venture outside at night; a mini Weber barbecue for the tong-master aiming to impress his lady; an iPod docking station for music lovers; a chandelier suspended over the bath containing bath salts and candles; they even have a private jacuzzi outside by the suite’s braai area.

The bathroom at The Pumphouse at South Hill

The bathroom at The Pumphouse at South Hill

On that note, I tried to convince my wife that we should try out the jacuzzi. However, it was probably around 10 degrees celsius outside (probably even less than that if you consider the wind chill factor). Furthermore, neither of us thought of packing our swimming trunks. Needless to say, we gave it a pass. Admittedly, maybe self-inflicted pneumonia wouldn’t have been such a great idea after all. We opted for a candle-lit bath instead – a luxury seldom enjoyed in our own home, thanks to our two (very) high octane 3- and 5-year old boys! And thanks to the iPod docking station in the room, were were able to listen to our favourite music whilst doing so.

South Hill's Restaurant

South Hill's Restaurant

The kitchenette has a coffee machine, microwave oven, electric hob, toaster, rusks, fresh milk in the minibar fridge, cutlery, crockery and a sink, dishwashing liquid and other necessities. The facilities are self-catering, but if guests prefer, they can request breakfasts, provided that they inform management in advance. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, so bear that in mind if you need to enjoy lunch.

My wife and I both fell in love with South Hill, and hopefully we will be back soon. I think summers must be equally enjoyable here. And who knows? If it’s not too hot, next time I might even be able to convince my wife to join me in the the jacuzzi. That’s if the honeymooners who will eventually discover this romantic hideaway didn’t book the cottage before I did…

Need more information? Visit South Hill on Klein Collection’s website to view more property details, images and rates.

Affordable luxury accommodation in the heart of Stellenbosch

I recently spent a night at De Hoek Manor in Stellenbosch. From the moment I stepped into the Manor, I felt right at home. Each detail – from the fresh flowers, the sherry and chocolate before bedtime to the electric blanket – made my stay one that I won’t easily forget.

The luxury and comfort that my king-size bed offered me made it difficult to emerge from my room the next morning! However, the church bells that chimed from the historic Moederkerk, situated directly across the road, were too beautiful to ignore!

My day began with a scrumptious breakfast in De Hoek Manor’s dining room, and I was served by a very friendly waiter named Elton. I highly recommend this bed and breakfast whether you are a tourist, business person or a local.

De Hoek Manor is in a prime location for exploring Stellenbosch, with restaurants, stores, cafés and historic monuments only steps away. Thank you De Hoek Manor for a true Stellenbosch experience!

– Independent review by Kiara Havenga

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African chic in Hout Bay

First-time international visitors to Cape Town, expecting an African experience, are often disappointed. Almost everywhere they go, the architecture is European, the menu Mediterranean, the tableware imported and the décor colonial. On a rainy day, you may be sipping your earl grey tea on the leafy side of Table Mountain and feel like you never left mother England. This is not the case at the Hout Bay Manor.

The interior was designed by acclaimed Cécile & Boyds, and is a colourful celebration of African art and symbols. The longer you linger, the more you will notice how the space playfully utilizes every-day objects from different cultures of the continent. Traditional beaded headgear have been turned into lamps, wooden headrests find a place in the bathroom, red lucky beans set in glass become paperweights and a seed believed to render the bearer irresistible to a potential lover doubles as a key ring. Still, the feeling of Hout Bay Manor is crisp and modern and will appeal to visitors that are used to the finest in the hospitality industry.

We stayed in the very spacious Zulu room and loved the Nguni skin on the gleaming wooden floor, the splashes of vibrant pink and orange, combined with a few elegant furniture pieces and original local art. The polished rawness of the shower’s pebble floor and exposed copper pipes, contrast well with a dazzling glass chandelier in the bathroom. All the bathroom products at Hout Bay Manor are from the locally produced Earth range.

There was a moment of panic as I, who clear out a small tea plantation every year with the amount of green tea that I consume, did not spot any tea and coffee making facilities in the room. But the never-tiring room service delivered endless pots of tea to our room at no extra charge. Glass jars stocked with complimentary nougat, biscuits and other sweet treats are stationed throughout the hotel.

During summer the heated swimming pool must be great fun and the hotel provides kikoys and picnic baskets if you want to spend your day around the pool and garden area. As we visited in the middle of the winter, we opted for the Inzolo Wellness Spa instead. Unfortunately, there was only one therapist on duty and as earlier appointments had overrun their time, we were a little disappointed that we could not enjoy all the treatments that we booked. But Jack thoroughly enjoyed his Marula and Neroli massage, and I thought my pedicure was perfectly done.

We did not get round to the wine tasting in the Hout Bay Manor’s own cellar, but were impressed by the collection of South African favourites on the wine list of their in-house restaurant, Pure. Their angelfish with lemon butter sauce and roasted aubergine and tomatoes was one of the tastiest meals that I’ve had in a long time and the fresh-out-of-the-oven dark chocolate fondant with its rich, melting core was definitely the right choice for a dessert.

On checking out, we were surprised by a hamper pack of snacks for the road, sealing the good experience at this friendly luxury hotel. I can recommend the Hout Bay Manor to couples, families and business travelers who want to stay somewhere with interesting, original design and in a tranquil environment, removed from the bustle of the city.

Life is beautiful at Babylonstoren hotel between Franschhoek and Paarl, South Africa

In this edition of “Review for You” we visit one of our favourite luxury escapes of all time, Babylonstoren Hotel. It is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms and only features 14 accommodation units and a fantastic restaurant called Babel. With its impressive fruit and vegetable gardens, unique accommodation and wholesome food, this establishment between Franschhoek and Paarl near Cape Town, South Africa, celebrates everything that is natural and beautiful in life.