Over two hours from Cape Town, you'll travel a gravel road that takes you past a daily gathering of guinea fowl, AKA nature's alarm clock, and soon find yourself at Stanford's Blue Gum Country Estate. The sound of the wind whistling through the trees and softly lowing cows, a lone springbok named Carpaccio, as well as horses, border collies and pinecones dotting the way to reminding you that you're far from home, so switch off and relax.
A stay in Stanford is like a breath of fresh air. There’s no sense of urgency in the quaint town based alongside a gorgeous river, with views for days.
That’s why we most appreciated our room’s magnificent balcony, ample in-room heaters and the fireplaces at the main restaurant to ward off the winter chill, as we couldn’t steer ourselves away from those picturesque windows.
It’s easy to see why Blue Gum Country Estate once again topped the four-star country house category at Sanlam’s Top Destination Awards 2018.
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Nature is top of mind here, with guests asked not to bring phones into the restaurant – I snuck mine in for this review, of course. If there’s an all-important call you just can’t miss, Anton will be happy to change your ring tone to one that sounds like a frog!
There’s also a mosquito-netted four-poster bed, complete with firm base and melt-under-your-head soft pillows, with a mini chocolate to sweeten your dreams. But you’re encouraged to spend at least some of your night time outside, star-gazing from a lounger or around the enormous boma fire pit for those chilly nights. There’s a handy star chart in the room if you’d like to know exactly what you’re looking at.
While cruises on that lazy river mean Stanford’s usually a firm favourite in the warmer summer months, there’s a fireplace at each of the dining rooms of the on-site Barke restaurant, so you can go all out with the two- or three-course dinner option.
You can also order from the a la carte lunch menu at any time of day, featuring favourites like toasted sandwiches, wraps and a selection of pastas.
There’s also the breakfast standard of filter coffee plunger or tea, with speciality options like flat white or chai available at an extra charge.
There’s a strong sense of rustic comfort at Blue Gum Country Estate, with the well-appointed rooms of the manor house decorated to the theme of the room name. We were allocated Elephant, which meant all the paintings, sculptures and even the bath-salt scoop featured the trunked creature.
The rooms also feature all the creature comforts from home like seasonal gowns; paperback books; thick blankets to cosy up in; a coffee station with sachets of tea, milk and sugar and two welcome biscuits; and a bar fridge to fill with the various goodies from your town sightseeing at the local breweries, wine farms and cheese stalls.
Bonus if you visit on a sunny day: Behind a flower-dotted hedge is a very chilly pool with loungers to sun yourself and bring a smile to your face as you watch birds and butterflies frolic.
With walking trails just begging to be explored, we found Blue Gum Country Estate the perfect base from which to explore the likes of Panthera farm, or as a base for a longer trip to Hermanus or Gansbaai for whale viewing or shark-cage diving. Naturally.
*Leigh Andrews was a guest at Blue Gum Country Estate. For more information, email call 028 341 0116 or visit www.bluegum.co.za, and follow Blue Gum Country Estate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.
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