We’ve all become very well acquainted with life under lockdown. Level 4 has brought us some extra allowances and we’re steadily moving toward level 3. We don’t know about you, but we’re starting to see the light. We can’t wait to start planning local getaways again, especially since the thought of international travel post-Covid has us breathing a little faster, for now.
But travelling in the safety of your own car to one of our countries most beautiful destinations? Now that sounds like a plan. Read on for five local getaway spots to visit as soon as lockdown allows it…
Retreat to this hidden gem in Joburg’s concrete jungle. The Houghton Hotel has all you need to feel like you’ve escaped the rat race – luscious greenery, cosy nooks, spa treatments and delicious meals. All the makings for a perfect local getaway.
The Houghton Hotel is almost two years old and here to stay. Walking through the property you’ll see many beautiful paintings decorating the naturally-textured walls. The hotel is spacious and intentionally designed; you feel as though the entire property is yours. Attentive and friendly staff members greet you as you make your way to appreciate one of the many amenities the hotel has on offer. Enjoy a 60 minute aromatherapy spa treatment at the luxury Amani Spa (from R1 100) or swim a few laps in the infinity pool that overlooks the sprawling green of the golf course on the property.
A stay in one of their Junior Suites is just what you need after a tumultuous few months. Opening the patio door, a beautiful view of Joburg’s skyline welcomes you. Several personal touches make you feel immediately at home. Fresh flowers on a marble table, robe and slippers already set out for you and, later in the day, a turn-down service with nougat as your night-time treat. The king-size bed and percale linen make getting your eight hours even more enticing. Your stay is not complete until you have sampled their breakfast – which can also be ordered to your room if you don’t want to get out of your pyjamas just yet. Enjoy a continental or hot breakfast and make sure to try one of their mini jam doughnuts made by their team of dedicated chefs.
From R3 900pn for two in the Junior Suite. Valid until 31 December 2020; thehoughtonhotel.com
Known as one of the oldest, and most beautiful, Cape Dutch farms, Babylonstoren is a feast to the eye. With a fruit and vegetable garden that will leave even the best of gardeners green with envy, and an impressive array of produce made daily on the farm, a visit to this working farm (filled with lots of farm animals) is awe-inspiring.
With majestic views of the Franschhoek and surrounding mountains, peace and quiet surround you once you step foot on this 300-year-old property. Apart from the (fully operational) fruit and vegetable garden, a number of soul soothing areas await your visit. The concept of time evaporates as you explore (either by foot, bicycle or golf cart) the spa, garden, wine cellar and farm shop. (which you can also visit online here). Don’t be surprised when you realise that everything, from the olive oil to the honey and cheese, are produced on the farm. If you’re more of an adventurer, a bike ride up the mountains will full you with that much-needed adrenaline.
An Oasis Of Serenity
A stay in one of the Fynbos Cottages will nourish your soul – not to mention the feeling of gratefulness that will overwhelm you once you take a moment to appreciate the beauty of our country that surrounds you. Natural decor blends in with modern furniture and well-thought-out architecture. If you’re a designer (or just love beautiful interior design) you will be left feeling inspired. Your stay is not complete until you have experienced one of their carnivore evenings. On Wednesdays, you are invited to a five-course meat evening. Get a (mouthwatering) taste of the farm’s Chianina cattle – all farm reared and grass fed – whilst enjoying wine from the cellar and interesting company. Expect to pay R490 per adult and R175 per child.
A visit to Babylonstoren makes you more appreciative of true hospitality and beauty.
From R13 600 for 2 guests sharing a one-bedroom Fynbos Cottage. Valid until 30 April 2021; babylonstoren.com
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A short 30-minute drive from Durban’s bustle transports you to the relaxed setting of Umhlanga beach. Pack your family into the car and escape to the paradise of The Beach House #96, which lies less than 200m from the shore.
This cosy family holiday home includes all the creature comforts you’re used to, like a built-in braai and fully-equipped kitchen. It’s also roomy enough to accommodate 12 people in five bedrooms. The practically beachfront house is spread across three levels, with an open plan living area and floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor. The sunrises and sunsets viewed from this vantage point are sublime.
The house has a beautiful lap-pool to rinse off salty hair, but you’ll likely spend your days at the beach. If you want to get out and explore, Umhlanga offers a host of activities, from walking along the beachside promenade to eating out at the many restaurants, or catching a movie at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping.
For the particularly adventurous, try kite-surfing with Ocean2Air at one of the nearby beaches (from R900pp). If your plans include a night out with your partner, Beach House #96 also offers babysitting services.
From R5 500pn in the family home, sleeping 12. Valid in off-season; beachhouseletting.com/the-beach-house-96
In the heart of the Great Karoo lies Samara, a luxurious private game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. This impressive sanctuary is a semi-arid paradise of mountains and grasslands, where Africa’s most beautiful creatures roam some 67 000 acres.
Samara offers a Big Five experience that you won’t soon forget. Aside from lavish accommodation and exquisite meals, you are treated to two daily game drives with experienced and knowledgeable rangers. No more than 26 guests are accommodated at one time, which means that there is never a crowd at a sighting, and animals are never overwhelmed.
This is just one of the many ways that Samara is committed to conservation. Several indigenous species have been reintroduced to the reserve, including cheetah, elephant, black rhino, lion, and springbok. Locally, these animals had died out, but with the team’s efforts, the first cheetah arrived back in the Karoo in 2004 after 125 years.
Now, you can follow and observe these majestic animals on foot. Cheetah tracking is one of the jaw-dropping experiences offered at this local getaway, and one you’ll remember forever.
One of the best features of this reserve is the utter stillness. Retiring to your room after breakfast, you can happily sit on your private patio and soak in the peace and quiet. If you wait long enough, you’ll soon have the bushveld television playing in front of you, as monkeys, warthogs and birds gather at the waterhole to drink.
Samara is located just 40 minutes from Graaff-Reinet and 2.5 hours from Port Elizabeth.
From R 7500pn for two in the Lodge Suite. Valid until 31 December 2020; samara.co.za
The five-star manor, built in 1904 and part of Cape Country Routes, is situated along one of the many oak-lined streets in the Cape Dutch architectural town. Luxury and warm hospitality are what guests are invited to and, once you step inside, a sense of history envelops you.
The term ‘old-world charm’ is magnified throughout the property, which boasts cosy fireplaces, antique furnishings in the suites, and a wide stoep where you can kick off your shoes and sit back with a glass of the finest wine from the surrounding vineyards. Restore your body and soul with a wellness treatment at the intimate spa; and go back to your roots with traditional Waterblommetjiebredie and freshly baked bread for dinner.
The manor is a short walk from the popular town of Stellenbosch. Head out for the day and grab a flat white from one of the many eccentric cafés before exploring the various art galleries, museums and historical buildings. A must see is the Botanical Gardens at the university (a stone’s throw from the manor) where you can enjoy lunch under the trees – weather permitting. Alternatively, the options of fine restaurants in town are endless.
From R 2090pn for two in a Classic Room, including breakfast. Valid until 31 December 2020; evergreenmanor.co.za
Compiled by the woman&home team