Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse

Hermon, Cape Winelands & West Coast, South Africa Book from R4,455

Reviewed by Lisa Young
Fabulous historic homestead with rooms and a self-catering cottage, set on a working farm and nature reserve with a lake, mountains, and vineyards beyond
Bartholomeus Klip is a luxurious and peaceful Victorian guesthouse surrounded by 6,000 acres of rolling wheatfields and a pristine private nature reserve. Numerous plant, bird and animal species are conserved here - some endangered and some totally unique - including the geometric tortoise and the Cape mountain zebra. Guests are spoilt by unobtrusive yet friendly staff, comfortable bedrooms and gargantuan amounts of heavenly country food.

There’s also plenty to keep you busy. In addition to daily game drives, you can explore the working farm, hike in the Elandskloof Mountains, cycle through the reserve, row, canoe or windsurf on the lake, or venture into the famous Cape Winelands (a 30-minute drive away). Fly-fishing and clay pigeon shooting can also be arranged. But if all that sounds too energetic, simply lie back on a deck chair by the pool in the tranquil gardens and enjoy the sunshine and endless vistas.

Highs

  • The attention to detail is second-to-none - they have thought of everything, but in a seemingly effortless way
  • The endless rolling landscapes and distant purple mountains afford the feeling that you’re in the middle of nowhere
  • An incredible amount of mouth-watering food just keeps on coming…
  • This is a unique experience in the Cape Winelands - perfect if you want to enjoy African fynbos and wildlife, as well as explore the vineyards and local towns
  • It’s so quiet you can hear the flap of a goose’s wing high overhead as it makes its way to the lake to nest

Lows

  • If you’re hoping to lose weight, forget it! Afternoon tea includes the most tempting homemade pastries, cakes, scones and lashings of cream
  • You won't see any big game here, but you can see zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, fish eagles, blue cranes and rare fynbos
  • The temperature can reach 40C in summer, making any activity extremely uncomfortable - happily, all rooms are air-conditioned and there’s a huge lake and a gorgeous pool to cool down in
  • Children under 16 aren't allowed in the main house, though there is a separate self-catering house which is ideal for families

Best time to go

Anytime, but in May the days are long and not too hot, lambing on the farm begins, and the vineyards are at their prettiest. In August and September the wild flowers are spectacular and the wheat starts to turn golden-green, but expect some rain. December to February are the hottest and driest months, when birding and game viewing is at its best.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 5 + 2 cottages
  • All meals included or self-catering
  • All ages welcome in Wild Olive House only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Windsurfing equipment
  • Canoes
Room:

Rooms

The 5 comfortable bedrooms have been individually styled using designer fabrics and crisp white linens. Polished wooden floors, original family antiques and paintings give the farmhouse a warm, homely feel and the overall style is fresh, elegant country living with delightful Victorian touches. Beautiful shiny doorknobs, a generous wraparound veranda and a brolly and wellie stand at the entrance add a wonderfully colonial flair. Four, the Luxury Rooms (Agapanthus, Arum, Disa and Nerina), are inside the main house, with views over the gardens; the Orchid Suite is separate, with its own private terrace looking over the veld to the mountains.

The spacious bathrooms all have Victorian-style free-standing baths with plenty of hot water (ours had a mural of a country scene and wildflowers painted above the taps). You'll also find fluffy bathrobes, a generous selection of soft towels, and toiletries made using herbs from the surrounding fynbos.

Unseen hands place little treats in the bedrooms - a crystal decanter of sherry at dusk, a cutting of local fynbos on your pillow with a description, chocolates and weather reports for the following day at bedtime. Hot water bottles warm your bed on cold winter nights.

No children under 16 are accepted in the main house, but they're welcomed at Wild Olive House, a self-catering option in the grounds that's ideal for families and independent folk. The airy and open-plan house has cool flagstone tiles, high ceilings and French doors opening out to a shady terrace with barbecue facilities, a private garden and its own swimming pool. Inside are 2 double bedrooms, a single room which can be made up with bunk beds (ideal for small children) and 2 bathrooms. The spacious kitchen, sitting room, dining room and well-equipped kitchen provide plenty of space to spread out and relax. Meals can be an entirely private family affair, or adults can eat in the dining room at the main house whilst the children are looked after by trained babysitters.

Within the gardens of Wild Olive House is another little cottage with a double bedroom, a bathroom and a sitting room. It’s a popular sanctum for older siblings or grandparents when an entire family descends on Bartholomeus Klip.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Toiletries

Eating

The sumptuous food is one of the highlights of a stay at Bartholomeus Klip, and you should definitely arrive hungry! Chef Louise Gillett honed her craft in London at Chiswick restaurant Fish Hoek and, assisted by her enthusiastic team (many of whom grew up on the farm), she combines traditional French cooking with a huge dollop of local inspiration. Most of the ingredients used come from the surrounding area or straight from the farm itself, including the butter, milk, cream and yoghurt.

Meals are served in the spacious conservatory-style dining room, decorated in the evening with candles and sparkly silverware, at the deckhouse overlooking the lake and mountains, or outside on the veranda. The food is included in the rates for guests staying in the main house or the Orchid Suite; those staying in Wild Olive House can join in for an additional charge (adults only) or cook for themselves in its fully equipped kitchen.

A typical day starts at 7.45am with coffee, homemade rusks and pastries before you set off on your morning game drive. Brunch is served on your return between 10am and 11.30am - expect crunchy muesli with the farm’s own honey, creamy yoghurt and fruit, freshly baked bread and croissants, smoked salmon and savoury tarts, followed by a full English if your stomach can stretch to it.

Next stop is high tea - a feast of homemade scones, cream and jams, delicious cakes, pastries and meringues, all elegantly served on the family silver. It’s difficult to hold back from the Alice-in-Wonderland-like spread, but with nibbles on the patio at sunset and a 4-course dinner still to come, it may be prudent to rein yourself in.

A set dinner is served at 8pm and the daily-changing menu is presented at breakfast so you can convey any dietary requirements to the kitchen. You might sample minty pea soup and local salmon layered with coriander and ginger, or spicy gem squash and basil and ricotta ravioli followed by lamb with honey, lavender and a crispy potato bake. Or you might have fresh beef carpaccio drizzled with pecorino and parmesan oil, caramelised duck breast lazing on a crispy potato rosti, or a grilled kabeljou (a native fish) fresh from the sea. Dessert might be orange-scented crêpes, cream panna cotta with confit strawberries, or baked fruit crumble with homemade ice cream. Whatever the kitchen has chosen for the night, it’s destined to be sensational and will be accompanied by a good wine list full of local choices.

Lunch isn’t served as you simply wouldn’t be able to find room for it, but picnic baskets can be prepared if you're planning to go off for the day - just ask and they’ll be waiting for you on departure.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Optional early morning activities usually start at 8.30am with a guided walk in the reserve to look for rare geometric tortoises, view game on foot, spot birds and learn about the unique fynbos flora of the area

  • You can also take a guided tour around the farm to watch sheep dogs working flocks of Merino sheep, see cows being milked and, depending on the season, watch lambs being born (April/May), sheep being shorn (July) or wheat being harvested (October/November)

  • Game drives in open-top Land Rovers take place every morning and evening. Among the animal species on the reserve are eland, bontebok, gemsbok, wildebeest, red hartebeest, baboon and bat-eared fox. The evening drive ends with sundowners at the foot of the Elandskloof Mountains

  • You can learn about local flora from expert guides, who know the area like the back of their hands. The reserve conserves one of the last remaining patches of renosterveld - a rare type of fynbos which is rich in plant species (nearly 800 have been identified). In springtime (August-September) it's a mass of flowers - a mixture of bulbs, orchids and daisies

  • The reserve offers excellent bird-watching - more than 160 species of birds have been identified at Bartholomeus Klip, including the endangered blue crane, African fish eagles and ostriches. January and February are the best months to see birds on the lake

  • Bartholomeus Klip runs 2 breeding projects - one for quagga (a previously extinct zebra-like animal with smudgy stripes) and another for buffalo - both of which can be visited

  • Those interested in improving their culinary skills can join cooking demonstrations or take part in informal cooking classes with chef Louise and her team (these can be organised in advance). You can also join them for excursions to local markets and cheese and olive farms - a wonderful way to meet the locals and learn about produce from the area

  • The energetic can explore the reserve by bike, and go windsurfing, canoeing and rowing on the lake. Fly-fishing (for trout) and clay pigeon shooting can also be arranged

  • The less energetic can relax or read on the deck by the swimming pool, or snooze in the gardens

  • Half an hour's drive away is the historical country town of Tulbagh, where you can pop into the Twee Jonge Gezellen winery for a glass of bubbly

  • Also worth a visit and less than 30 minutes away are Wellington and Riebeeck Kasteel. Both have local markets, craft shops, vineyards and plenty of wine and olive tasting opportunities. The larger wineland centres of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl aren’t much further away

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

No guests under the age of 16 are allowed in the main house, but children of all ages are accepted at Wild Olive House. This is ideal for families, with 2 double bedrooms, a single room which can be set up with bunk beds, a large kitchen, living and dining areas, a private pool and a further cottage in the grounds. Adults staying in Wild Olive House can eat in the main house for an additional charge.

Kids can also make full use of the facilities at the deckhouse. A children's welcome pack containing colouring books, crayons and a disposable camera can be provided.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged on request

Baby equipment:

  • High chairs
  • Baby cots
  • Children's crockery and cutlery

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

A range of children's meals can be delivered to Wild Olive House

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Children's baking classes
  • Special game drives
  • Tailored farm tours
  • Bikes to borrow
  • Kids DVDs

Kid Friendly:

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