Looking for a unique local retreat? Since the last days of winter are slowly disappearing from view, we’ve rounded up a few local travel spots perfect for huddling up with your loved ones.
Dine and relax away from the city
Between the roaring fires, the gourmet food and the stunning decor, this luxurious lakeside retreat will be your most fabulous farmstay ever. Nestling in a tranquil KZN valley flanked by the Drakensberg range, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse has been standing since the 1940s and hasn’t lost one bit of its original charm. The five Standard Rooms in the farmhouse are the height of comfort; each individually and lovingly decorated with meticulous detail. Whether you choose the red-and-green Scandinavian Room or the enchanting Colonial Natal Room, feeling at home is guaranteed. Make yourself a cup of tea and soak up the shine of the season on the outside sunlounger or, if the nip in the air is too much, curl up in front of the fireplace while gazing out of your window to watch the mist rise gently from the lake.
Cost? From R2 520ppspn in a two-sleeper Standard Room; with dinner and breakfast. Valid till 30 September 2019; cleopatramountain.com.
Cosy up in a charming cave
Built seamlessly into an outcrop in the beautiful Cederberg Mountains, Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve’s 10 comfy Cave Suites offer unparalleled views – though you may have to look twice to see them! Put the Flintstones to the back of your mind as you step into your cave with its inviting double bed and en-suite bathroom. Comfort is key and thoughtful extras – from fluffy robes to scented bath products – add the final touch. Meals at the main lodge are included in your stay, but you can turn up the romance with a picnic basket for two delivered straight to your doorstep.
Cost? From R2 830ppspn in any two-sleeper Cave Suite on a full-board basis, with meals and excursions. Valid till 31 August 2019;kaggakamma.co.za.
Nest in the treetops
Be drawn into a world of whimsy akin to that in Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree at Sycamore Avenue Treehouses.
Set in Mooi River, Sycamore’s six wood-carved, stained-glass structures sleep two to six people – we love the family-sized Fantasy Treehouse, with a twin bedroom and an en-suite double. Here, glass doors open onto a deck, where you can admire the vista of Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg, while enjoying your morning coffee. The best bit is the private ‘Spa in the Sky’ with Jacuzzi bath you could soak in for hours. You may never want to leave! But it’s worth coming down for full English breakfasts and roast dinners dished up at the main house and, of course, to take in the pretty surrounds.
Cost? From R960ppspn in any treehouse, including breakfast and dinner daily. Valid till 20 September 2019; treehouse-acc.co.za.
Chill in an eclectic villa
Cosmopolitan is the word that best describes Villa Maison Noir. It may be set on Hout Bay soil, but it’s a diverse marvel in structure and decor… vogue Scandi architecture is rooted in the African kraal concept and then unbent by organic Balinese ornamentation, giving this impossibly cool pad a distinctly unique feel. Crossing the main koi pond-flanked walkway, you’ll find a living area to the left and four individual ‘abodes’ to the right. Large suites showcase creamy linen furnishings, chic stripped-bamboo floors, and a curated selection of indigenous arts and crafts – each room has its own media loft and en suite with a sink-into-me bath. In the open-plan living space, life in winter is best led reading or dozing in front of the crackling fireplace, after sharing a lively mealtime at the 10-seater dining table. You’ll never be at a loss for things to do. Stay in to wallow in the steaming outdoor pool and take advantage of the villa’s private home cinema, or venture out to enjoy any number of local activities – from nature hikes to shark-cage diving – organised for you by the villa’s concierge.
Cost? From R17 400pn for the villa, sleeping up to eight people; self-catering. Valid till 30 September 2019; perfecthideaways.co.za.
Escape to the country
On the banks of the Elands River in Mpumalanga, about an hour away from Nelspruit, you’ll find Fortis Hotel Malaga. The stunning country resort was named after the Spanish city of Málaga, which served as inspiration for the hotel’s rustic architecture and decor, and its warm, homely feeling. Well-appointed rooms, just a short walk away from reception and the communal lounge, offer stylish comfort, and all boast their own balcony overlooking the beautiful, lush garden and mountainous terrain. Order a warming cappuccino from the restaurant and head out to the garden, wrapped up warmly, so the children can take in the animal life. Bunnies, chickens and ducks – plus a resident chatty parrot! – will keep them happy.
Cost? From R1 190pn for a four-sleeper Standard Family Room, with breakfast. Prices subject to change; fortishotels.com/hotel-intro-malaga.
Experience the African bush
If you don’t consider yourself a ‘bushy’ person, a stay at Thornybush Game Lodge, next to the Kruger National
Park, will convince you otherwise. With its thatched roof and lovely muted colour palette, your double Suite is an extension of the environment around it. Quiet and serene, each room has a large bed to crawl into after an exciting day in the bushveld, an elegant bathroom with a tub that’s just calling for bubbles, and a patio facing the riverbed. Even if it’s cold outside, you won’t regret heading out on a game drive at dusk, where you might spot a herd of elephants or a lazy lion pride. Besides, comfort is never compromised on the open vehicle – hot-water bottles and blankets are provided to ensure you’re always toasty, and an Amarula-infused mochaccino can be specially prepared for you, too. After your evening drive, a scrumptious dinner of everything from prawns to game meat awaits you by the crackling fire in the boma area, under a blanket of stars. With your belly full and your heart content, fall asleep to the distant howls of hyenas on the prowl.
Cost? From R10 252ppspn for two in a Suite, including all meals, two daily safaris and selected drinks; excluding conservation fee (R350pp). Valid till 31 December 2019; thornybush.co.za
Cuddle up in Clarens
Clarens, in the Free State, is a sanctuary of mountains, dams and silence, with a winter in this hilly haven meaning a well-deserved break from the world. The picturesque Maluti Mountains are welcome enough, but driving up to a luxurious hideaway lined with purple haze and pig’s ear flowers, you’ll feel like you’re really going home. It seems unlikely that all three of the Claridge House’s chic bedrooms would offer unparalleled views of the valleys, but that’s part of its charm. With a stylish open-plan lounge, whitewashed wooden floors, and percale linen, you’ll have a boutique-style atmosphere to revel in.
Cost? From R3 500pn for a maximum of six people on a self-catering basis. Valid till 30 September 2019; claridgehouse.co.za.
Words by Virginia Boshoff and Jade Crocket