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“Most romantic place for my birthday”

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Augusta de Mist Country House
Ranked #29 of 39 Swellendam B&B and Inns
Reviewed January 17, 2013

Most romantic place for my birthday. This is a truly romantic place and stands out as very different and with the best service. I can really recommend this place. We had a great stay early January 2013 for 3 days in total.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank CPH1051
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 17, 2013

Stayed at Augusta de Mist for 3 nights during our South African road trip from Cape Town to Durban. Augusta de Mist is by far one of the best guesthouses I've ever stayed at. The atmosphere, the owners, the food, the guesthouses - ALL exceeded our expectations. It certainly felt like a home away from home. I would recommend this to my best friends!

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank MAT_cph
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 16, 2013

Wanting something new and fresh, why would I choose for my wife a property dating from 1802? Well because this place is a breath of fresh air. No tacky white tableclothes, but the owners proudly show off their tables made from refurbished red wine barrels. The website says, stay two days because they you are guaranteed one dinner night. And this is why you come. These guys could be anywhere and you'd go see them. The food is fantastic, the variety of rooms is for all budgets. The the decor is SO EXCITING it makes you dizzy. Everywhere there is something to look at.

But it is for the food you go here. They put this town on the map. No, if you want to just travel the Garden Route and see the sights and take pictures home with you, this is not the place. Here instead you take home memories to last a lifetime. The owners a just so cool too. It feels like insta-friends. And you know what, I believe them!

They know everything nice to do in Swellendam and the area. I am glad we were here for dinner, and there is enough to do here for several days.

Room Tip: We stayed in the new Aloe, with an inside and outside shower. Felt great to be under the oak tree.
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Paul_R_TO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

I am so glad our travel agent insisted we stay here for two nights. Swellendam is right off the N2 highway on the way to everywhere, and from when we left Mussle Bay it only took about 2 hours. Glad we left early because we spent two nights at Augusta de Mist but three whole days in Swellendam (the day we checked out I wondered if we shouldn't have stayed three nights!). The two guys who run this little oasis know what they're doing, the attention to detail, the personal touches. When I say personal touches, everything has a story, from their trip to Botwana to the barrel chairs that also come from the States. Michel has lived in South Africa nearly 15 years, but he certainly knows how to make Americans feel like they are home. And when you do travel, it is great to hear a familiar accent.

But what really makes this place special is the food. It is like dining with friends, like the best dinner party you have ever been to, without it being pretentious. And I like that. We had the four course dinner, and what is there not to love. It says Augusta's African Kitchen, and the flavors are from all over the continent. But you never feel the food is foreign. In fact, they get everything locally. Which is their whole credo.

I've been to a lot of places in the world, and this place is special. If you don't have dinner here, you are crazy.

All the rooms are different (we were lucky to be able to poke around in a few). Somehow they managed to mix the old and the new, the American/Canadian with the South African.

Thank you Chef Henk for what you did for us. If you would like a sponsor for your cookbook, count us in!

Augusta de Mist is Augusta de MUST. The two guys have put Swellendam ON THE MAP!

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank PilotLady48167
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 9, 2013

There is a lot of buzz about this place - came on recommend from friends in Cape Town and i can see why they like it so much - good food, good coffee, nice area, great wine, and the decor and gardens just work. I have always given Swellendam a miss but this place is putting it on the map for sure.

Room Tip: each room is different - great style
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  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Xander H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2012

If you plan to stop over in Swelledom on your Garden Route drive, you must stay here!! Michelle and Hank are wonderful hosts. The rooms are set in beautiful gardens. The room is so fantastically decorated that it transforms you to a different world. Their 4-course meal is a must!
Our only regret is that we did not plan for more nights there.

  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank LilysWorld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2012

The façade is deceptive. Although Augusta de Mist fronts Voortrek Street, set quite far back from the road in a quaint English-style garden, there’s a whole lot more to this grand old dame than meets the eye. Beyond the architecture, parts of which date back to 1802 (yes, she’s a National Monument), there’s the garden.

Michel describes this 1.5ha wonderland as “controlled mayhem” but I’d rather opt for a secret garden. Step onto the numerous pathways and it’s easy to feel as though you can lose yourself and end up a million miles away from civilisation. Birds call to each other from thickets. Round a corner and discover little quirks, like a pair of clogs planted with cacti, or intricately wrought garden furniture begging you to bring a book so you can read in a quiet nook. You can almost forget you’re in one of the Overberg’s bustling towns.

Augusta has seven guest suites, with accompanying en-suite bathrooms and sitting rooms. The décor is an eclectic blend of old and new, and from what Michel told me, each room, item of furniture or painting has its own story attached. From handmade wrought iron lamps to the somewhat ominous monkey statue guarding the dining room, Augusta de Mist is full of delightful little quirks. But unlike some upmarket accommodation, she’s stylish and comfortable.

We weren’t here to just soak in the surrounds. Oh no. Our visit was primarily foodie-orientated, and pomegranate-themed at that. At the start of the weekend I admitted that all I knew of this fruit were the Greek myth of Persephone and a few biblical references, coupled with childhood memories of using pomegranates as makeshift hand grenades – the resultant blood-red mess staining my clothes was quite spectacular and remains etched on my memories.

Did I mention that Henk loves to cook? Henk is the mastermind behind The Passionate Pomegranate brand, which he created after local farmer Jan van de Merwe, owner of Pont Boere, approached him. They introduced us to a range of products that disabused me of the notion that the pomegranate is just “that fruit you sometimes buy in Pick n Pay then aren’t quite sure how to eat”. From a syrup to a reduction or simply in a pure, unpasteurised juice, the humble pomegranate lent itself to every dish we sampled. A tangy reduction added a bit of zing to our greens while Michel outdid himself with his top secret malva pudding recipe which was, naturally, served with a pomegranate ice cream I’m definitely going to try make myself.

Certain sectors of the health business tout this fruit as numbering among the “super foods” and fresh, pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, potassium and anti-oxidants. Jan, over coffee and a rather deviously wonderful melktert (decorated with swirls of pomegranate syrup, of course) told us a little about the juicing process, which sounds like quite a gedoente, because his pomegranate juice is marketed as a frozen product.

“It’s completely fresh, unpasteurised and preservative free,” he told us. Was it worth the hassle? Definitely, though its initial taste and texture takes a little getting used to. It’s not as sweet as most fruit juices and is certainly heavier, but I’m afraid I developed an inordinate fondness for the ruby-hued elixir.

And this is what I love about digging beyond the obvious attractions that lie in Cape’s small towns, and hats off to Henk, Michel and their team for inviting us to kuier with them. They successfully blend epicurean delights in an environment framed with comfort and spiced with stories. Whether you’re looking for a base of operations to strike out and explore the Southern Cape or wish to withdraw into a quiet garden retreat, August de Mist succeeds admirably, and you truly feel as though you’re welcomed into a home.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank nerinedorman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Augusta de Mist Country House

Address: 3 Human Street, Swellendam 6740, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Western Cape > Overberg District > Swellendam
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free Parking Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #29 of 39 B&Bs / Inns in Swellendam
Price Range: $151 - $190 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Augusta de Mist Country House 4*
Number of rooms: 6
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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