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Winter Weekend Getaways in and around Cape Town
A selection of snug holiday hotspots to keep you cosy in the cold season
Last Update 13 April 2017
With affordable low season rates and killer accommodation deals, winter is, in fact, one of the best times of the year to escape the humdrum of home life and hit the road for a relaxing retreat. Not to mention, the ultimate way to beat the gloomy season blues is to have a little holiday – to go someplace snug where you can spend a full weekend poring over a novel next to a fire, sipping on tea in cosy cafés, frolicking in snow and drinking red wine in bed.
Of course, it’s easier to pine after a July break than to actually plan one, so we’ve helped the process along by compiling a guide to warming winter getaways in the Western Cape. What follows is our pick of affordable cosy cottages equipped with radiating hearths, delightful log cabins that ooze warmth and charm, luxury lodges in wine tasting country and family-friendly resorts but a small hop away from natural hot springs. With this guide, you’re likely to wish winter would never end.
WINTER GETAWAYS WESTERN CAPE
Kolkol Mountain Lodge
Made from timber harvested from the surrounding mountains and complete with golden lighting and huge stone fireplaces, these cosy log cabins in Bot River are veritable winter sanctuaries. So it comes as no surprise then that the cold season is peak season at Kolkol Mountain Lodge. All of the gorgeous bungalows, each of which was built by owner Rudi Oosthuyse, exude a natural warm charm and lay claim to an outdoor wood-fired hot tub that’s heavenly no matter what the weather (if it’s raining, you’re going to get wet anyway, right?). While most of the units are romantic two-sleepers, the luxurious King Cabin can accommodate up to 10 people and boasts an alfresco boma braai, a pizza oven and a potjiekos pot. Needless to say, it’s ideal for a first-class winter getaway with friends. The Overberg area that the accommodation is found in is home to its own budding wine route, so visitors can spend days sipping on spicy Shirazes and robust Merlots, and there are also several health and beauty salons in the region, with The Caledon Spa and its natural warm mineral baths resting only 28km away.
Rates: A stay at any of the two-sleeper cabins costs between R900 and R1250 per night for two guests, and accommodation in the 6- or 10-sleeper cabins goes for between R1000 and R3300 per night. Bookings for mid-week stays must be made for two nights or more and Friday and Saturday nights must be reserved together.
Van der Stell Pass | Bot River | +27 (0)28 284 9406
Hermanus Beach Villa
As the majestic giants of the deep start to visit Cape Town’s shores in June, Hermanus – South Africa’s top whale watching destination – is the ideal vacation destination during the colder months. And there are few more comfortable, heart- and body-warming spots to stay here than the luxurious, but reasonably priced Hermanus Beach Villa. With rooms that afford spectacular views of the ocean, the four-star B&B gives guests the rare opportunity to take in the dramatic scene of waves tossing wildly in winter weather from bed. Not to mention, all accommodation options, from the standard quarters to the luxury suites, boast heated towel rails, and the staff sneak hot water bottles into overnighters’ beds when they turn down the sheets at night. Speaking of after-dark, there’s no better way to while away frosty evenings than with a nightcap and a good book next to the roaring log fire in the downstairs lounge. Aside from whale viewing, there are several other winter-appropriate activities on offer in and around the Hermanus area, including shark cage diving, which is best during the nippy season when great whites are most active.
Rates: During low season, double rooms go for between R1099 and R1699 per night (breakfast included). Hermanus Beach Villa also often runs winter accommodation specials, so be sure to enquire about these.
151 11th Street | Voëlklip | Hermanus | +27 (0)28 314 1298
Boschendal Farm Cottages
Perched in the Drakenstein Valley near Franschhoek, Boschendal invites guests to make the most of the winter months with a stay in one of its lavish yet cosy self-catering cottages. Guests can engineer the kind of getaway they want as there are options for everyone from swooning couples, discerning travellers and large groups of friends to families of four, food lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. What makes these options particularly appealing during winter is that every unit comes with a fireplace and a fully-kitted kitchen (meaning you can cook up a storm and never have to leave the cottage’s four warm walls), heated towel rails, thick duvets, wall heaters in the lounge and bedrooms. What’s more, Boschendal staff occasionally treats guests to complimentary hot chocolate or gluhwein on chilly evenings. The setting allows visitors to soak in the striking view of the mountains which are made even more dramatic and beautiful by grey, chilly weather.
Rates: A stay in an Orchard Cottage is priced between R1075 and R8400 in total per night, Rhodes Cottage ranges between R5200 and R15000 per night (and includes a housekeeper who prepares breakfast), Clarence Cottage prices start from R3000 and run up to R6125 per night and an overnight in a Werf Cottage rings in between R1875 and R4925.
Boschendal Estate | Pniel Road | Groot Drakenstein | Franschhoek | +27 (0) 21 870 4274
Aaldering Luxury Lodges
As cosy as they are private and tranquil, the three five-star lodges that sit in the heart of working wine farm Aaldering are ideal for wintertime escapes. Not only do the luxurious thatched guest houses boast a historic Cape Dutch-style look that oozes warmth, but they also claim a glowing hearth in the open-plan kitchen and lounge area as well as heated towel rails, so guests can stay toasty after soaking in a hot bath. On clear winter days, overnighters can go on brisk walks around the 24-hectare estate, and in rainy weather, there’s the option to escape the wet cold while sipping on rich reds in the farm’s snug wine tasting room (it’s also home to a large wood-burning fireplace), to while away torrential downpours over games of Scrabble and backgammon in bed or to make a visit to all or any of Stellenbosch’s many quaint little eateries, art galleries, museums, theatres and health spas. Plus, the accommodation is only a hop, skip and a jump away from numerous other wineries and brandy distilleries, so visitors can heat themselves up from the inside out with countless glasses of the good stuff.
Rates: An overnight for two at one of the Aaldering lodges costs R2500 per night, including breakfast; guests must stay for a minimum of two nights.
Aaldering Vineyards & Wines | Devon Valley Road | Devon Valley | Stellenbosch | +27 (0)21 865 2495
Cape Point Cottages
Though these two super affordable, century-old cottages are under an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s city centre, they easily give guests the sense that they’ve travelled worlds away from civilization. Located at the foot of the Swartkopberge mountain range on a 900-hectare private fynbos farm near Cape Point, the four-sleeper stone cottage and seven-sleeper top house, both of which boast fireplaces and an enclosed farmhouse stoep, promise complete privacy and the sort of relaxing retreat that frosty weather demands. On wind- and rain-free days, overnighters can take in the natural beauty of the property on a number of walking trails – be sure to look out for the powerful river waterfalls that are in full flow during winter. Alternatively, guests can visit one of the local restaurants, most of which have fireplaces, and dine on hearty, belly-warming meals next to the heat of a hearth.
Rates: During winter,accommodation at the Cape Point Cottages costs R250 per person per night (there’s a minimum rate of R650 per night for the cottage for two guests). The owners also run mid-week pay-3-stay-4 or pay-4-stay-6 winter specials.
Klipfontein Farm | Plateau Road | Cape Point | +27 (0)21 780 9099
The Royal Hotel
Channelling the warm ambience of a bygone era, this grand colonial hotel, which sits in the seat of olive country in Riebeek Kasteel, might be luxurious all year round, but its old-world charm is most accentuated during the colder spell. Fires roar in the lounge and both on-site restaurants, soft lighting bathes the accommodation in a cosy glow, the well-appointed en-suite rooms are kept toasty by underfloor heating and a daily half-price G&T special in the early evening gets bellies burning in the best way possible. Plus, there are ample opportunities for indoor wine and olive tasting in this breathtakingly scenic region (there’s also the popular Riebeek Valley Olive Festival in May), and if guests wish to experience a white winter, they can hop in the car and travel only 45 minutes to Ceres, where it often snows during the coldest months (skiing and snowboarding are fun activity options here).
Rates: Rooms at The Royal Hotel go for between R750 and R875 per person sharing per night during the low season, and the accommodation also often runs winter specials, especially for its Facebook fans. What’s more, there’s a half-price room rate for all walk-ins arriving after 3pm.
33 Main Street | Riebeek Kasteel | +27 (0)22 448 1378
The Spier Hotel
Tucked snugly away on one of the oldest wine farms in the country, the four-star Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch is perfect for families or couples seeking a winter weekend retreat close to Cape Town. The spacious, warmly decorated rooms – there’s everything from standard options to suites – huddle around six private courtyards and each cosy chamber claims a large gas fireplace, a heating system, extra blankets and a feather-soft king-size bed that just begs guests to spend time in it with a good book and a cup of coffee. When overnighters are not snuggling up in their quarters, they can sip and sample an assortment of robust reds in Spier’s contemporary wine tasting room (there’s also grape juice tasting for kids) or enjoy hearty, farm-to-table meals at the on-site Eight restaurant or at the elegant hotel restaurant. The hotel is currently running a winter special until 31 August. Book for a three-night stay and receive 20% off your booking, the offer includes a full English breakfast each morning. To book your secret winter sanctuary stay go to their site, and see everything they have on offer.
Rates: Rooms go for between R1150 and R3600 per night depending on the type chosen. This price includes a tasty hot and cold buffet breakfast.
Spier Wine Farm | R310 | Stellenbosch | +27 (0)21 809 1100
Tankwa Karoo and West Coast National Parks
With picturesque landscapes that are only made that much more dramatic in gloomy winter weather, these two natural reserves promise a wild, wonderful escape during the wet season. Tankwa Karoo, which is all sheer cliffs and stark scenery, boasts a number of four to six-person self-catering units that function as cosy retreats during the cold spell thanks to thick walls and indoor fireplace; the most notable of these are the Elandsberg Wilderness Camp cottages and the Tanqua Guest House. On the other hand, the West Coast National Park is all colour during the latter part of winter as the famed wild flowers cover the veld with vibrant hues from August to September. Therefore, the colder months are actually the best time to enjoy a getaway at this magical reserve, and visitors have a choice of a number of different accommodation options with warming hearths and covered outdoor braais, namely the Duinepos Chalets, Abrahamskraal Cottage and Jo Anne’s Beach Cottages. Guests must simply bring their own firewood.
Rates: Contact the Tankwa Karoo National Park for information on winter overnight rates; the West Coast National Park accommodation options mentioned above cost between R985 and R1410 per unit per night for four people sharing.
Tankwa Karoo National Park | +27 (0)27 341 1927
West Coast National Park | +27 (0)22 707 9902 or +27 (0)22 707 9900 for the Duinepos Chalets
Klein Oliphants Hoek Boutique Hotel
Set in the bosom of South Africa’s wine and culinary capital, this elegant hotel in Franschhoek, which happens to be as lovely in winter as it is in summer, was built in 1888 and still retains the sophisticated charm of this era. The property’s sumptuous double-volume lounge is the perfect place to relax with a glass of red vino and a gripping novel (there’s an on-site library) next to the log fire while the rain beats against the window panes. Otherwise, several of the plush, beautifully adorned rooms are warmed by advanced underfloor heating, three of them claim their own fireplaces and one – the Sundeck Jacuzzi Room – has a bubbling hot tub. The valley is also a gorgeous place to visit during the wet season; not only is it lush and dripping with colour, but it’s also host to a number of exciting winter festivals, including the Franschhoek Literary Festival, Cook Franschhoek and the Franschhoek Bastille Festival. Not to mention, visitors can fend off the frosty weather in the many top restaurants and estate tasting rooms that populate the region or even explore the area on an old-school wine tram, which is fairly well protected from the rain.
Rates: From 1 May 2014 to 30 September 2014, rooms cost between R525 and R850 per person sharing per night; this price includes a hearty cooked breakfast.
14 Akademie Street | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 2566
Houw Hoek Inn
Nestled in the pine tree-lined Houw Hoek Valley, this charming three-star hotel is one of the oldest in the country and still holds fast to that cosy inn-from-another-era feel. There are fireplaces in 45 of the 49 snug rooms (there are both family and double options) as well as in the bar, dining room and conference quarters, so guests can rest assured they’ll stay warm and toasty during their visit here. What’s more, the accommodation hosts a popular dinner dance event every Saturday night that treats patrons to a three-course meal, some great tunes and a whole lot of indoor fun. Beyond the borders of the property, visitors can go mountain biking or explore the many hiking trails in the area when the weather is favourable or sample robust reds that warm icy bodies through at one of the region’s several wine estates when it’s drizzly and miserable outdoors. Otherwise, a visit to the delightful Houw Hoek Farm Stall is a must, as is taking a moment or two to breathe in the beautiful sight of mist circling the mountains that surround the inn.
Rates: From Sunday to Thursday, rooms go for between R525 and R630 per night, depending on how long you stay; over weekends, rates go up to between R560 and R600 per person sharing per night, with breakfast included.
Off N2 | Between Grabouw and Bot River | +27 (0)28 284 9646
Tanagra Wine and Guestfarm
This tranquil 78-hectare wine farm, which rests just outside of McGregor and only a short drive from Robertson, is dotted with six private self-catering cottage that promise a memorable wintry retreat. All units are equipped with open indoor fireplaces, outdoor braais, electrical heaters and extra blankets to help guests fight off the frosty weather. But two of the chalets are particularly perfect for the colder months: the snug loft studio, which sits above the winery, and the Hill Cottage, which perches on a sunny mount that overlooks the vineyards. As the farm flanks the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, it offers easy access to a number of hiking paths, mountain bike trails and key bird viewing areas, and because winter rains make the area beautifully lush and green, the cold season is, in fact, one of the most scenic times to visit. Otherwise, guests can sample reds and whites at estates throughout the valley – the must-do Robertson Wacky Wine Weekend is held annually in June – and warm their bellies with grappa produced at Tanagra’s own boutique distillery.
Rates: During the 2014 low season, cottages cost between R350 and R600 per person sharing per night when rented out on a self-catering basis (add R125 per person per night for the B&B option); there’s a discounted rate for stays of at least three nights.
Robertson Road | McGregor | +27 (0)23 625 1780
Trinity Guest Lodge
With an abundance of wild flowers in August and September and a thriving arts and culture scene, the little West Coast village of Darling is a delightful spot to escape to during the chilly months. And the four-star Trinity Guest Lodge makes for a great base from which to explore the town in winter. Not only is there a electric fireplace in the guest lounge, but all the beds in the double en-suite bedrooms are enveloped with thick goose-down duvets, and the lodge also offers a cold season-appropriate two-night cooking class package that treats patrons to culinary lessons in the old farm-style kitchen. Otherwise, guests can just while away icy days with a steaming cup of tea and slice of cake in one of the village’s cute coffee shops (try The Marmalade Cat or Café de L’amour) or opt for Trinity’s brilliant winter weekend special, which includes two nights of accommodation, a dinner at one of Darling’s restaurants, a ticket to a show at the famous Evita se Perron theatre, free entry to the Darling Museum, a wine tasting and lunch at the 18th-century Groote Post Cellar and a complimentary olive tasting (or a beer tasting at Darling Brew, if you prefer) for only R1500p/p.
Rates: An overnight in one of Trinity’s en-suite rooms costs R400p/p, with breakfast included. Aside from the abovementioned weekend deal, the guest house also runs a mid-week stay-3-pay-2 special.
19 Long Street | Darling | +27 (0)22 492 3430
As winter is citrus season, the colder months are the best time to visit this charming Cederberg-based farm, which boasts orchards overflowing with plump fruit. The scenic property is home to two fully equipped self-catering cottages, one that’s set in an orange grove and one that boasts the thick walls and wooden beams of an era long past. Both two-bedroom units have glowing hearths in the lounge and heated panels on the walls, and the beds are covered with woolly winter sheets and blankets. So, guests can cuddle up next to a crackling log fire at night and then top up on Vitamin C in the mornings with a glass of freshly squeezed juice (both cottages come complete with juicers). The farm is close to a number of hiking and cycling trails – it rains less in this region, so you’re guaranteed a few sunny days – as well as one or two quaint cafés that serve up delicious tea and cake. Though, the highlight of Boschkloof is the fact that it yields breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and is only approximately 20km away from a site where it regularly snows (the owners will point visitors in the right direction if they’re keen to go frolic in the white stuff).
Rates: A stay at one of the Boschkloof cottages costs around R1400 per night for four people. The farm does occasionally run accommodation specials, so be sure to phone ahead and enquire about these.
Boschkloof Farm | Just Outside Citrusdal | +27(0)22 921 3533
This large self-catering resort, which sits at the gateway to the Little Karoo along the scenic Route 62, is perfect for an affordable family-friendly winter retreat. The property’s 17 Cape Dutch-style Golden Terrace chalets all claim fireplaces in their open-plan lounge areas, and the various other four-sleeper accommodation options are also fully equipped with everything a clan could need for a comfortable vacation, so there’s no need to even venture out on miserable, wet days. Though, if guests do want to move beyond the boundaries of their well-appointed rooms, there’s a heated swimming pool on site and the Montagu Museum and fascinating Guano Caves with ancient rock art are not far away. Not to mention, patrons of the resort get discounted access to the renowned hot springs, which are situated on the neighbouring property and are sure to ward off any winter chills. If you’re a lover of literature, be sure to check into the resort in the middle of the cold season, in July, so that you can make it to the annual Breyten Breytenbach Book Fair.
Rates: Prices range from R595 to R1880 per chalet per night, depending on the type of accommodation and the time of the week (i.e.; mid-week versus weekends).
Uitvlucht Street | Montagu | +27 (0)23 614 1050
By Dayle Kavonic
Looking for another way to beat the cold season blues? Why not enjoy a hearty hot meal at one of these various Cape Town restaurants offering sizzling winter specials?
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