Guesthouse with an identity crisis


Guest houses generally have either one specific theme – marine, fynbos, forest, whatever – or they have no theme at all. I’ve stayed in a wide variety throughout the Western Cape but 2 nights ago I found myself in one that is so multi-themed that it is on the verge of a complete melt-down as a result of an identity crisis.

Surrounded by breathtaking mountains and pristine renosterveld fynbos on a large working farm yielding wine, tomatoes, pomegranates and other fresh produce, it is not satisfied with this to form a theme. The massive house (in parts unfinished at this stage) has a style combining Mediterranean villa with monastery minimalism complete with cloisters. Throw in a fictional romantic heroine, a Russian Byzantine shrine, and sell yourself as a packbackers lodge as well as romantic getaway. You can spend your weekend either feeding the pigs or buying the art adorning the walls. Don’t expect to watch tv on any of the large tv sets because there is no tv service, you need to get a dvd from the lounge, or a usb stick from the office – assuming you can find the managers because they tend to hide from guests.

If you’re hungry you can expect a very good breakfast but in the evenings you’ll need to negotiate the very bad 4 km long entrance drive and then another 5 km into the nearest town. And back again, so don’t drink much with your supper. You could, of course, arrange for a meal or braai in advance but you won’t know this because there’s nothing on the website to warn you and you’re not going to be told when you make your booking.

After several days of a less than perfect road trip I was in a foul mood when I discovered all of this and all I wanted was to sit on my balcony with a large drink and watch the sunset but there was no alcohol in the bar so we decided to go into town for a drink before supper. Of course the sun had set by the time we reached town.

A divine meal at an unpretentious restaurant saved the day and a good breakfast the next morning slightly made up for the strangeness of the guest house. The manageress who clearly doesn’t like people stayed in the kitchen, was never seen again. She’d better hang on to her boyfriend who appears to do all the work and knows how to handle guests.

It’s all very strange but not all bad. What is this place good for? Guided (or solo) fynbos walks, very reasonable prices (not sure how they make money actually), stunning views, and for booking the whole place out for your private special celebration or group weekend, with a theme – pick whichever suits you. Oh, and the rooms are massive with large bathrooms.



This is your view – 360 degrees of beauty.


The creeper in the corner was full of very busy noisy birds at sunset and the sludgy dirty pond in the centre is home to frogs I could not see but heard all night.


Spot the byzantine shrine


Funky Knysna guesthouse

This guesthouse in Knysna epitomes the funkiness for which the town is famous. It’s called Bamboo, the guesthouse. On a trip with clients I was thrilled that they wanted to get to their fancy 5 star hotel as early as possible every afternoon. This meant I had more time to enjoy this great little place where I was staying. Not as expensive as my clients’ hotel but much more fun.

The owners are very creative and have filled the gardens with all sorts of clever things. We’re talking recycling and inventiveness here, everything seems to have been picked up at markets and junk stores and nothing is wasted – lots of inspiration for hoarders!

It rained most of the time I was there which only added to the fun of feeling as if I was in the middle of the forest and gave me an excuse to hang out in the bar where everyone was friendly and fun. I loved it and want to go back!  Tip: have the pancake for breakfast, best I’ve ever tasted.


Every room has a name and this was mine. It was small but had a lovely deck with a view over part of the garden – I loved it.



It was raining, the decks were slippery, I was carrying several bags, and the twisting paths were a labyrinth around the property so I got lost several times but so did everyone else. It was part of the fun. This path leads to my room.


Luckily, I had lots of time to explore everything. The owner told me she loves shopping for junk and always comes home with masses of items. I believed her.


Loads of little treasures like this all over the place.

hanging baskets

Not your regular hanging baskets


An unusual swimming pool


In winter the bar and dining area with their various fireplaces must be very cosy.


A beautiful mural on one of the stoeps.


Lots of mosaic items.


More pretty stuff in the garden

mandela knysna

Only in Knysna

more detail

Nothing is thrown away


There’s a use for everything


A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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