From lunches and carols to markets and meeting Santa
Elegant getaway: Mardouw Country House
This sophisticated country house taught our team slow time
Last updated: 19 July 2023
Mardouw Country House is for sophisticated getaways with your closest friends: Sherry in delicately-rimmed glasses waiting by the front door; three-course meals with warm fresh bread; cherubs gracefully poised on the walls of your suite. This elegant 19th-century farmhouse taught our team slow time.
Mardouw Country House from above. Image: Mardouw Country House
GETAWAY IN A HISTORIC FARMHOUSE
This five-bedroom country house, sitting snugly between the sprawling green lawns and distant hills of Mardouw Olive Estate, was once an 1894 farmhouse. Mardouw is a whopping 1 000 hectare olive farm and it produces international award-winning olive oils (you can organise a tasting during your stay).
The entrance to Mardouw Olive Estate, which has 50 000 olive trees. Image: Mardouw Country House
GET A GLIMPSE INTO THE 19TH CENTURY
While Mardouw Country House has been elegantly renovated, certain features indicate what the 1894 farmhouse would have looked like, like the wide windows and stone fireplaces that make the space feel ageless.
The front door, made of heavy wood, stretches towards the ceiling and dramatically opens into the spacious dining room (where you’ll be served a three-course meal every evening).
The house even has floor heating for chilly winter stays. Image: Mardouw Country House
MODERN ART IN AN AGELESS SPACE
The modern stylish touches are thanks to the owner’s wife. Her decor choices feel like a personal art collection, rather than being overstyled. There are some really eye-catching pieces – like the large ball lights which cast dramatic shadows on the dining room walls or the metal olive tree that creeps up the wall of the stoep.
An elegant touch is the renaissance-esque cherubs which adorn the walls of most of the bedrooms. This, along with the farmhouse remnants, gives the sense that time passes slower at Mardouw Country House.
Some of the rooms are suites, with a living room and/or private patio. Image: Mardouw Country House
LEARN SLOW TIME HERE – LIKE OUR TEAM
This is one of the reasons why Marcus Zandhuis, founder of CapeTownMagazine.com, sees this sophisticated country house as a place to wind down and take slow time. “It’s not a place for a party weekend, but time with a few good friends. You can hike, do yoga, just do your own thing alongside each other.”
One of the best spots in the house is easily the front porch, which overlooks the Langeberg mountain range. “Making coffee in the morning and sitting on the front porch, next to a rose garden and seeing the sun rise over the mountains… you’ll feel like you’re somewhere else.”
What content manager Simone Strydom loved was that it was warm and cosy, with the underfloor heating and a crackling fire. “The patio heaters allowed me to just sit outside and relax, while looking at the sprawling green lawns and even some cows, without getting cold.”
You’ll see these striking statues from the front porch. Image: Mardouw Country House
HOST AN UNFORGETTABLE 40TH OR 50TH BIRTHDAY
Time feels suspended here partly because there's so much to do without leaving the estate. There are hiking, walking and mountain biking trails, a golf range, and a flow-edge pool with a massive garden (where you could spot Mardouw’s cows wandering during breakfast).
You can spend relaxed quality time by the pool, go on a hike, play games by the fire, or even host a 40th or 50th birthday weekend.
Look over the surrounding Langeberg mountains (and sometimes cows, too) from the pool. Image: Mardouw Country House
LEARN WHAT VIRGIN OLIVE OIL ACTUALLY IS
Do you know what it actually means if olive oil is extra virgin? Or that olive oil can have notes (like banana or walnut), and has a peppery aftertaste that burns when drunk neat?
One of the most interesting parts of the Mardouw stay is that you can organise a tour of the olive oil pressing facilities (if it’s the season) as well as a tasting.
The tasting includes a few of their award-winning olive oils (they’ve won gold awards at competitions in Amsterdam, New York, Berlin and London, as well as the Absa Top 10), tapenades and olive chutney.
You won’t realise there’s so much to know about olive oil until you do a tasting. Image: Simone Strydom
FEAST LIKE ROYALTY ON 3-COURSE DINNERS
Although Mardouw Country House feels like your own private villa, one of its perks is that all meals are included.
Amanda van Wyk, who’s worked on the farm for over 30 years, became its manager when the country house was established five years ago. She cooks guests a three-course dinner every night, with hearty favourites like cinnamon butternut soup and amarula malva pudding.
Some of the meals are more elevated (like spinach-stuffed chicken breast with a thyme white wine sauce, or Crêpes Suzette flambéed in front of you), while others are comforting homestyle meals like tomato lamb roast.
Dinner is served with olive and rosemary bread that’s still warm from the oven.
Amanda’s presence is wonderfully warm and made the CapeTownMagazine.com team feel instantly welcome at Mardouw. Image: Mardouw Country House
BOARD GAMES, MUSIC, COSY SPOTS + MORE
There are two suites downstairs (with a separate lounge or private patio), while the bedrooms upstairs open onto a large balcony overlooking the estate and Langeberg mountain range. There’s a TV with Netflix in every room (and even a “retro” DVD player in some rooms) as well as skincare made from Mardouw olive oil.
The main lounge is centred around a grand fireplace, and there’s board games and a sound system with Spotify. On CapeTownMagazine.com’s last night at Mardouw, the team spent it around the roaring fireplace with red wine and jazz music playing softly throughout the house. You won’t find a TV to distract you; all the better to connect with your closest circle.
The upstairs bedrooms have an almost-panoramic view of the estate and surrounding mountains. Image: Mardouw Country House
UNWIND AT MARDOUW
Find Mardouw Country House: R60 | Halfway between Ashton and Swellendam (2.5 hour drive from Cape Town)
Contact details: Website, @mardouwcountryhouse
Make a reservation: Contact Philip King, General Manager
Price range: Around R13 000 a night (includes all meals), depending on season
By Julia Rowley
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