Intrigued by the website and wanting a closer look at Swellendam, we booked two nights at Augusta de Mist as part of our trip to South Africa this year. On our arrival, Michel one of the very congenial hosts, immediately informed us that he had upgraded us to a junior suite — and gave us a taster of the menu he and Henk were preparing for the evening meal. We were seduced just by the description — which proved a good decision. The property comprises the Park House, a renovated traditional Cape Dutch house plus a number of other traditional style buildings set in large grounds populated with mainly indigenous plants and a charming pool, set behind lawns in the 'Dorp' area of Swellendam. Room decor is a mix of contemporary/african styling done with individual flair and taste, plus all the amenities that make for a luxury stay: fridge, tea/coffee making facilities, robes in the bathroom — and a decanter of port! The evening meal was a gourmet delight: comprising a delicious fresh tomato consommé; 'Boere Bruschetta': crostini with beef, rocket and sunflower seed salad, fig and goats cheese; a sweetcorn ice cream refresher; 'Cape Malay Chicken Curry' with lemongrass and green beans, basmati rice and roasted tomato chutney; then a syrah sorbet and finally Michel's 'Chocolate Bombe' with creme fraiche and homemade banana ice cream. The wine list featured their own red or white blends and a selection from Mischa in Wellington. A wonderful meal, prepared and presented with real care. Breakfasts are equally considered comprising fruit salad, fresh orange juice and eggs cocotte or how ever you want them, coffee or tea and a fresh pomegranate juice taster. Michel and Henk are wonderful hosts, ready to chat or offer advice on what to do in Swellendam; we visited the nearby berry farm and Rain, a charming shop selling their own handmade soaps, toiletries and accessories. Get off the N2 for a great experience and a highly recommended meal.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- One of the most beautiful guesthouses in Swellendam, on South Africa's Garden Route. Experience stylish living on a large country retreat. It is the biggest dilemma you are faced with when visiting Augusta de Mist: where do you sit? The pool area is perfect with a large willow tree and the kind of privacy that encourages you to shed the layers and have a cocktail. But then privacy is even greater in the small fynbos forest at the top of the property where you can climb a hand-hewn stairway to a fine view of the Overberg. Of course just the thought of all that hiking on the grounds makes the fountain on the front lawns quite a good bet for a good old sit and much more civilised. Speaking of civilised, you may as well take tea on the stoep while sitting and take in the lawns, rose bushes and giant trees. Or just sit on the lawn. But what about the picnic clearing in the fynbos forest, around wine cellar or even just the lounge in your suite? Such is life in the country. There are not enough days on the average visit to sit in all the available spaces and congratulate yourself on a perfect choice. Augusta de Mist is a 4-star retreat set on 1.5 Ha of eclectic fynbos. The country estate in typical Cape fashion boasts a deeply romantic 1802 Cape Dutch National Monument with more original features than you can shake a stick at. The shutters are yellowwood and the ironmongery original, as are the reed ceilings held together with 200+ year-old mud and clay. This manor building forms the social hub of the estate housing both the guest lounge and dining rooms. It also plays host to a Heritage Suite (where Desmond Tutu stayed in October 2013), which pays homage to Swellendam history and references South African iconic images and items. The bed is crowned by a cupola inspired by the Eastern style of the local church, while the reading room in the suite teams Afrikaner quilts and World Cup makarapas, which are pure township art. Wander past the pool, over seasonal streams or by the kitchen herb garden to stumble upon the garden cottages. On first glance, the allure is obvious. Simple white structures, the bridal suites are reminiscent of the historic cottages of this region, with reed ceilings, shuttered windows, bucolic views and indigenous or water-wise planting that welcome you. As you step inside the suites, you discover even more country romance in the stylishly appointed interiors, which mixes the eclectic African, South African and European heritage. In reflecting the architecture, each of the suites features subtle and unique decor. The finishes are chosen for comfort and have a lived-in feel. Vintage pieces and antiques have been selected with care, adding to the homegrown spirit that pervades. Unique African art punctuates throughout. Crisp yet plush bedding comforts you through the night while the bespoke lamps provide a source of warm and cosy lighting. While the cottages are meant to tell the old stories of Swellendam each also has its luxurious touch. Every suite has its own lounge, large bedrooms with similarly large en-suite bathrooms living areas and private gardens. Almost all of them have their own fireplaces. Afternoon tea is sometimes available in season, and is served by the team at 'Augusta's African Kitchen', with its focus on pan-African cuisine. Some of the dishes are Afrikaner while others are Cape Malay. Says Henk, 'Our kitchen is not professional. Nor do we open our doors to the public. Unless they beg. We cook because we love the flavours of Africa. It is the food we know and grew up with. We love the fact that Milktart can be made in a different way depending if you are Afrikaans or Muslim. So whether you like koeksisters or koesisters, we want you to be satisfied.' The team specialises in sourcing the best they can find in the area and it is all too easy to say yes to every morsel. I saw a petite young Belgian woman work her way through four koeksisters and assistant Melanie laughs as she tells me about the German group of nine, who interrupted the flow of dinner and demanded a second serving of Biltong Soup after which they gave rapturous applause. It is this focus on quality that had Henk and Michel develop a small range of wine with Andrew Barns of Mischa Estate. 'The wine is something that we take great pride in. Drinking a wine of quality is a responsibility we take seriously. We chose to make a signature wine with someone who loves making wine, and who does not do it as a business venture but as a vocation,' Michel says. 'The wines we made are artisanal and of the highest quality. We know Andrew and Rachel very well and we are very proud to serve this small range'. ... more less
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