With our gong from the Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards 2011 for Best Website still shining proudly on the mantelpiece, here’s another hand-picked hotel star that helps make our collection great: Schoone Oordt in South Africa’s spectacular Garden Route & Winelands…
Style Tranquil Victorian homestead
Setting Foothills of the Langeberg Mountains
Why this week? This one-time B&B can now add another feather to its hat: namely dinner, courtesy of Koornlands, one of Swellendam’s finest restaurants, and the fact that it’s relocated to the hotel’s conservatory. You won’t have to travel far for delicious local dishes (warthog samosas and crocodile sashimi, anyone?), and some European fare thrown in for good measure. Smith members are also currently privy to a three nights for the price of two offer, valid all the way up until the end of April next year.
Our favourite bits In no particular order: the pretty Victorian façade, the clipped lawns, fountains and rose gardens, the claw-foot bath tubs, the extra-length beds for tall Smiths, and the Honeymoon Suite, a separate cottage on the edge of the forest with a handsomely carved wooden four-poster and giant bathroom.
Mr & Mrs Smith say ‘It’s been left to me to communicate the name of our hotel – Schoone Oordt – to the lady behind the desk. After painful attempts of ‘Shown-eert’ and ‘Shoooon-orte’, she snorts with laugher. ‘Sweetie, it’s just up the road on the right – you can’t miss it! It’s one of the prettiest buildings in town. Oh, and if you get lost,’ she hollers as I leave, ‘It’s pronounded “Skwin-ort”.’
Stepping out into the sunshine, I take in a street lined with thatched Cape Dutch houses and jacarandas hung heavy with their iris-blue flowers. Turtle doves dart between the treetops and the whole place is saturated with that bright clean sunshine that makes you feel like you’re on a movie set. It hits me just how astonishingly beautiful this place is. As if on cue, I make out the yawning, bluesy sound of someone playing ‘Amazing Grace’. Two chaps in tartan shirts and muddy hats are serenading Mr Smith while he wolfs his burger beside the car. I shuffle about in my bag for a few Rand (this, after all, is the song I walked down the aisle to) but they’ve waved goodbye by the time I get there. ‘They didn’t want money,’ says Mr Smith ‘They said they were just celebrating’…’
Read the full anonymous review of Schoone Oordt hotel in South Africa
You say ‘Hardly ever have we felt so at home in a foreign country – in Alison and Richard we met the perfect hosts. Schoone Oordt means beautiful place, and it truly is. Impeccable service. Every morning we found our car washed – amazing. The breakfast is superb – ask Alison for her muesli recipe. Spacious, cosy rooms. We will be back.’
(Hans Ulrich, BlackSmith, stayed on 4 Mar 2011)