SCHOONE OORDT COUNTRY HOUSE
Worthy of a detour or a destination, the historic town of Swellendam is overflowing with charm and quaint, old buildings that beg to be researched and photographed. The Drostdy Museum, little shops, arts and crafts are on the to-do menu. The third-oldest town in SA after Cape Town and Stellenbosch, it’s a town that makes you want more, and there is more to do than you can squeeze into a day. Perfectly poised for adventure and nature – the Bontebok National Park, and Marloth and De Hoop nature reserves are close by.
A WORK OF TIME
We arrived at the family-run, charming boutique hotel, Schoone Oordt, in the late afternoon. This Victorian manor house, declared a National Monument in 1983, has slowly been renovated and restored with love and immaculate attention to detail. A salt-water pool and tranquil, trickling fountains provide serenity. While our luggage was whisked away, we relaxed on the stoep with tea and a homemade muffin. Co-owner Alison Walker offered us the option of dining out or relaxing at the fire with a cheese and charcuterie board (and wine). With their conservatory-feel restaurant at currently closed for dinner, they encourage support of other local establishments like award-winning La Sosta, Field and Fork and other drawcard restaurants.
WALK AND DINE – SUPPORTING LOCAL
The idea of walking safely to a local restaurant appealed. The Drostdy was recommended and booked by Alison, who knows her oats, so wander we did. This building has a captivating story that began in 1757. Here French chef and owner, David Godin, conjures up tasty, artfully plated dishes. The amuse bouche, served in a teacup, was a light vegetable soup. My calamari salad starter and Thai red coconut curry were both delicious, my man’s double-baked aged Cheddar and blue cheese soufflé was followed by an A-class crispy pork belly – done either traditionally or Asian-style, and he chose the latter. The wine list, at palatable country prices, meant that we could order anything we fancied, so we chose a Bordeaux blend, Springfield’s Work of Time 2015.
Almost ready to trot back to the perfectly positioned Schoone Oordt, I received a message from Alison saying that it had unexpectedly started to rain, so she was on her way to collect us. Finding hot water bottles in the bed (covered in monogrammed luxury linen), and our car miraculously washed by one of the courteous, friendly staff the next morning, gave testament to our appreciation of their caring and genuine country hospitality.
BREAKFAST LIKE A KING
The three-course legendary breakfast was local, fresh and delicious. My highlight was a delicately poached pear with yoghurt and pistachios. A meander down the main road, and we were ready to say au revoir, knowing that we are sure to return.