victorian finesse – the beauty of swellendam
Way back, in 1745, a bunch of so-called Voortrekkers decided they really liked a little river and the surrounding flatlands. Or maybe they were just plain tired of yet another mountain to climb and river to cross. Whatever their motivation though, their decision to set camp in what is nowadays known as Swellendam, turned out to be a good one. The same can be said for the decision(s) made by Richard and Alison Walker over 250 years later to buy one of Swellendam’s historic landmarks and turn it into one of the best and most beautiful hotels between Cape Town and the Garden Route: Schoone Oordt Country House.
The foundation of the building can be tracked back as far as 1748 though the current house is a bit younger dating back to 1853. Exactly 150 years later, the Walker family bought the grand Victorian Dame and started writing their own history. Weeks, months and years of heroic rebuilding, restructuring and recovering – you can enjoy a bit of their journey on the Schoone Oordt site: www.schooneoordt.co.za/boutique-hotel-in-swellendam – resulted in a country retreat where history, eye for detail, decoration, luxury, warmth and hospitality are off the charts.
The beauty of Schoone Oordt has rubbed off on the whole of Swellendam. With numerous galleries, little boutique shops, the ancient Drostdy, fine Cape architecture, wonderful restaurants – including Schoone Oordt’s own Conservatory restaurant with exquisite local food – and the so called ‘Golden Mile’, the town has a lot to go for. With Schoone Oordt as a luxurious base, the area around Swellendam offers many surprising sites and activities to be discovered over the course of a few days. For instance the real most Southern tip of the African continent – not being Cape of Good Hope – and wineries, hiking trails, rafting, biking or treating yourself to a divine milkshake at the vintage Diesel & Cream on scenic Route 62 in nearby Barrydale.
Returning to Schoone Oordt after a day full of adventure or wine tasting is like coming home. A cool drink awaits you in summer, a burning fire wishes you a warm welcome in one of the eight suites in winter. The 5000 square meters surrounding the country house have been turned into a lush garden with fountains, benches, lots of shade and a salt-water pool. After a long night at the bar, your balcony or the seats in front of your (honeymoon) suite or family cabana, you find yourself embraced by fine Egyptian cotton in a room furnished with delicate antiques (this includes the toilet).
Mornings at Schoone Oordt start with a plunge in the pool or some contemplating with a coffee outside before indulging yourself in the attention of the warm and professional staff and a fresh, homemade breakfast that will leave you with a long lasting and tasty memory. A memory that’s always in the great company of a smile when it gets up from its chesterfield in the back of your head to remind you of those good old days framed in Victorian finesse.
Schoone Oordt Country House
1 Swellengrebel St, Swellendam, 6740
T: (+27) 028 514 1248