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.