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“Not Great..” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sunnyside Guest Farm

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Sunnyside Guest Farm
Johannesburg, Gauteng
Level Contributor
13 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Not Great..”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 2, 2013

Warning lights started flashing at the time I started the booking process for our stay at SunnySide guest farm. Five days went past after completing the online booking form and no response was received from the establishment. I then phoned and spoke to the owner and confirmed the booking telephonically. The owner promised to send me a confirmation of the booking by way of a pro-forma invoice the following day. After 3-4 days had passed with no confirmation received, I faxed a request to SunnySide Guest Farm again requesting confirmation of the booking. Once again no confirmation was received. Three days before our departure I again called SunnySide Guest Farm and re-confirmed the booking telephonically with the owner.

Our room was clean but poorly furnished. The two beds were similar to what I had to endure during my time in the army while doing my National Service. The ‘memory foam’ mattresses in particular seemed to have developed Alzheimer’s some years previously and were terrible to sleep on. The bathroom was clean but both the bath and toilet were badly stained probably from age and not appealing in the least.

Meals and teas are announced with clockwork regularity by way of a bell rung from the dining ‘hall’. Not dissimilar to how it works at many boarding schools. Our first meal at SunnySide was breakfast. My daughter and I arrived at the dining room and were ushered to our table in what can only be described as the entrance hall to the guest farm as the main dining room was full. The service was simply shocking and the dining staff in particular seemed to have the personalities of a meat cleaver. Not once did they smile and the initial delivery of the ‘first course’ was completely unappetizing. My daughter and I walked out and had all our meals over the next four days in Clarens, 13Km from SunnySide Guest Farm.

On the positive side, the guest farm is located in absolutely beautiful surroundings and the pool is simply fantastic – the only reason I give this venue a rating of two.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank waynet_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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22 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    11
    6
    4
    1
    0
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10
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
69 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 26, 2012

The most memorable scene of a most memorable stay was the sight of a staff member carrying several trays, one on top of the other, laden with teacups and teapots on her head as the means of bringing morning tea and coffee to the rooms.

We arrived in the middle of the worst snowstorm to hit the region. Our gracious hostess warned us not to come a day earlier because she said it would be difficult to walk to our accommodation. We arrived after a seven hour journey which should have taken only three hours because of the weather. We were in time for dinner, but before that there was hot tea brought to our room, electric blankets to warm the bed and heaters in the room.

The Maluti mountains exude their magic. In the absence of TV and wifi, we played board games with strangers who invited me to join them and shared drinks with them. As there is no alcohol sold on the premises, we brought our own wine and left it in the dining room.

Our hostess is a lady in every sense of the word. There is no other way to describe her. The food was reminiscent of boarding school in a positive way. There was plenty and it was tasty.

A wonderful stay and we wished that we could stay longer than the three days that we were there.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank JeyaWilson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eshowe, South Africa
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 30, 2012

I have been returning to Sunnyside for decades. Slightly old-fashioned, it is deeply memorable because it evokes a version of hospitality redolent of civility and graciousness. (Don't worry - you will be quite warm enough at night!) The food is classical and colonial English, served in large quantities and with precise regularity - some would say the menu, almost unchanged for generations, is slightly uninspired. Long may it remain so, because the ambience of the boarding-house style diningroom, with it open-hearth fireplace, elevates conversation to the art that it should be, even amongst strangers. If you had a holiday in a boarding house in Blackpool or Brighton in 1950s, you would have dined in such a dining room.

A very large number of artists have worked at Sunnyside over many years. The passage of hugely talented people have left many superb works of art on the walls. Those are reasons enough to stay there. The memories of the proprietor are a terrific resource for those interested in an aspect of the social history of South African art.

Someone needs to write up the story of Sunnyside as a case history in business management for MBA courses - this would be exceptionally interesting. I should not be at all surprised to learn that Sunnyside maintains a bed-occupacy rate way above much more trendy and modern places driven by hard marketing. What is the essence of the business model? Perhaps it is to start something in the 1950s according to a model that works, and simply keep it going without tampering for half a century.

There are some dark shadows in the idyll. The picturesque natural environment, which has inspired to so many artists, is very degenerate and saturated with alien exotic plants. It would take a massive investment to clean that up. One can see some interesting birdlife, but that should not be a primary reason for going there. Nevertheless, some gentle or energetic hikes can be found depending on your needs and you will see several raptors.

There is no television, you hardly get a cell signal, and for the time being, there is no internet. Children dine at an earlier time - resist that, if you can, gently and not stridently, because children belong with us when we take our meals. You will be served by people whose grandmothers probably worked there.

Sunnyside is not to be missed. It is a rarity.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Richard A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boksburg, South Africa
Level Contributor
41 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2012

South Africa’s best kept secret. You would not know about it unless you were friends or family of one of the regular visitors. Advertising was by word of mouth, until now – now they have their own website! http://www.sunnysideguestfarm.co.za/

There are no luxuries here. No TV, air-conditioning or internet. No traffic, noisy neighbours or crime. Total escape. The sandstone walled and thatched accommodation is cosy, but most people spend their time outdoors. Kids play in the river and climb the hills. More serious adventurers hike to Angel’s Wing about 8 km away. Nearby, there is a horse riding tour through a game park.

The farm has no liquor licence, so you can bring your own and save that aspect of holiday expenses. The daily tariff includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also tea/coffee at 7 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 9 pm. Meals are all set – there is no a’ la carte. Ann Boland, the owner, allocates the dining room seating.

My parents started spending family Christmas holidays at Sunnyside from about 1965. I was of similar age to Ann’s two boys and daughter. Together we rode Basuto ponies through the valleys, skinny dipped in “The Pots” upstream, and climbed all the hills and mountains. This was before the farm had electricity.

Sunnyside is just 3 hours from home. Whenever we need to de-stress, we go there. Once a year, the whole family of four generations, and from different parts of the country, gets together and spends a weekend together.

So long as Ann keeps the place as homely as it is, we will keep coming back. We hope their new venture into the web does not make them so popular that we can no longer get bookings!

Room Tip: If you are frail, ask for a room near the main building.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank RoamingNut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sunnyside Guest Farm

Property: Sunnyside Guest Farm
Address: R712 8 Km West of Golden Gate National Park, Clarens, South Africa
Location: South Africa > Free State > Clarens
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 26 Specialty Lodging in Clarens

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