Coot Club

Stanford, Western Cape, Hermanus & Overberg, South Africa
Book from Book from £143 per night

A boutique nature retreat sandwiched between lagoon, mountains and sea, with stylish self-catering cottages (for 2-11), a restaurant and heaps of outdoor fun

Coot Club is a nature retreat with many strings to its bow. Straddling the shores of the Klein River Lagoon in the Western Cape, with the Maanschynkop mountains towering ahead, you also have pristine Walker Bay (a famous whale nursery) glittering beyond the dunes. Its setting is as unusual as it is breathtaking. The estuary teems with birdlife and endangered plant species. Guided walks along the banks enriched our stay. It shines out as an example of how conservation and tourism can work in tandem.

Seven perfectly poised and beautifully styled houses (4 traditional cottages, 3 new boathouses) take in the magnificent views. You can self-cater or be catered for – we think this is the perfect blend. Its clubhouse is the sociable heart: downstairs for bar, piano and casual restaurant serving wholesome feasts, upstairs for games room. Outside you have swimming pools, sprawling lawns and the 400-year-old milkwood forest to form a natural playground for youngsters. Boating adventures can be launched from its jetty and free paddleboards, kayaks and fat bikes allow you to explore the reserve at your own pace. And those spectacular views – we could have spent all week in our boathouse looking out to the lagoon and mountains. We’d been waiting years for this retreat to open its doors and our expectations were far exceeded.

Highs

  • Beautifully styled cottages and houses that work well for families and varying group sizes – parties of 2-11 can be accommodated
  • A genuine enthusiasm and respect for nature; you’re surrounded by protected ecosystems, and birdlife is abundant – you'd never know you're only 2 hours from Cape Town
  • Lots of land and water based activities for adventurous kids and adults, many of which are included
  • The local village of Stanford (15-minute drive) is a quaint gem, with antique shops and a foodie culture
  • The chance to see Southern Right whales nursing their calves in Walker Bay: a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Lows

  • Accommodation options for couples are limited (unless you’re willing to pay more for extra rooms), but one cottage sleeps 2 (Fynbos)
  • Some of the original cottages are tucked into the milkwoods; book one of the new boathouses to guarantee the best views
  • The final 10km/15 minute approach is on a gravel road
  • The long beach at Walker Bay is pure white sand but the sea is cold and choppy, so not ideal for swimming – bathe in the lagoon or one of the swimming pools instead
  • If you want to see whales, you'll need to come during winter (Jun-Nov)

Best time to go

Every season has its benefits. June-November is prime whale-watching time. August-November is best for spring flowers and hiking. December-March is summer, so it's warm, sunny, and good for swimming in the lagoon (but the sea is still cold). April-June is autumn, a quiet time with good bird and animal viewing.

Our top tips

This place is bursting with nature and wildlife. Birders, in particular, will be in heaven - the reserve is home to hundreds of different species of indigenous birds. Their calls at dusk are extraordinary. You might spot pink flamingoes, resplendent blue cranes, weavers, bulbuls and bushshrikes. Don't miss an early morning guided walk with Coot Club's knowledgeable manager, Justin. Dawn is the best time to possibly catch sight of the notoriously shy caracals or, if you’re lucky, the resident African wild cat.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Nature Retreat
  • 7 cottages for 2-11
  • Restaurant + self-catering cottages
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
  • Pool Table
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Coot Club’s houses and cottages are scattered around the lagoon edge and come in various shapes and sizes. All are fully equipped for self-catering and have their own private outdoor spaces, so you can be as independent as you like.

The three boathouses (sleeping 4-8) are brand-new constructions set along sandy pathways and slightly away from the main area, so they feel more secluded. There are two Port boathouses (3 bedrooms) and one Starboard boathouse (2 bedrooms). Each has its own colour scheme but all have stylish Scandi-rustic decor with lots of rattan and tongue and groove, deep sofas and woodburners. Floor to ceiling sliding windows let the light flood in and maximise the phenomenal view; the main bedrooms and open-plan living spaces look directly over the glittering lagoon and out towards the mountains. It’s all about indoor-outdoor living here.

The four traditional stone cottages (sleeping 2-11) are set slightly further inland, closer to the Clubhouse and the main pool. They’re rustic on the outside; stylish and beautiful on the inside, with calming blue and green colour schemes to match the natural surroundings. Lawns is the largest of the lot and can be booked with the little cottage next door, to sleep 11 in total. Our favourite, Fynbos, has a great view and it's the smallest so ideal for a couple. All of the stone cottages have fire pits outside, so you can be among nature late into the evening. Note: Milkwood cottage and Garden cottage are surrounded by milkwood trees so they don't have the lagoon view and are a bit darker inside.

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

All-day dining takes place at the Clubhouse, Coot Club’s casual, sociable restaurant and bar, located in the historic Spookhuis.

Breakfast is included and consists of croissants, fresh fruit, homemade granola and creamy yoghurt, plus a tempting menu of hot dishes cooked to order, from avo and smoked salmon on toast to Coot Club's fry up, and pancakes for the kids. Lunch features a selection of light bites, while dinner is a set menu of generous sharing plates. The food is delicious and wholesome: a typical spread for the table might include pan seared salmon with lemon and dill risotto, slices of juicy filet steak with slow roasted tomatoes, chunky chips with aioli, and a crisp Caesar salad. We loved not having to order and helping ourselves to different dishes. There’s usually a meat and a fish or veggie dish, but let them know in advance if you have any dietary requirements. On summer weekends, families feast outside on simple crowd-pleasers like pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, homemade burgers and barbecues on open fires. Picnic platters can also be brought to you out on the lawns. Listen out for the ship’s bell an hour before sunset, when drinks are served at the Clubhouse and menus of the day are shared.

Of course, you can self-cater in your own kitchen if you prefer. Coffee, tea, milk and sugar are provided, and other groceries can be picked up locally (though best to stock up before arrival). And if you fancy a meal out, drive (15 mins) to Stanford, which has a growing culinary scene and a Saturday morning fresh produce market. Madre’s Kitchen serves local, seasonal fare in an intimate setting, while Springfontein Eats is the place to go for a special occasion.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Onsite activities include paddleboarding, kayaking, fat biking, lawn games (boules, volleyball), table tennis, early morning guided bird walks and self-guided nature walks
  • Sailing is a must for experienced sailors only
  • Go on a beach excursion (additional cost) into the Walker Bay reserve (an open safari vehicle departs in the afternoon from Coot Club and lasts approximately 3 hours, including sundowner drinks)
  • Shore-based whale-watching from the nearby beaches or a Marine Big 5 boat trip is a must in season (June to November); Walker Bay is one of the best places to see the Southern Right Whales; there are dolphins aplenty too.
  • Take a guided quad biking tour of the lagoon wetlands or have a relaxing massage or spa treatment (both available at the neighbouring lodge at extra cost)
  • Wine tasting at one of the local wineries. Don't miss Maanskijn, South Africa's smallest vineyard where two inspiring young guys are producing new wave organic wines - we particulary enjoyed their Brunch Club bubbly
  • Unique experiences can be arranged with a local marine forager and artist (min. 4 people, book well in advance)
  • Stroll the streets of charming Stanford village, browse the antique shops and stop for a cuppa or lunch at one of its restaurants
  • Explore the stone-age wonders of Klipgat Cave, where humans lived over 70,000 years ago

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Petanque
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Pool table
  • Private guided tours
  • Quad biking
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Table tennis
  • Well being
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Coot Club is heaven for kids. There is so much for youngsters to do here, and the setup is ideal for families. There are accommodation options to suit group sizes of 2-11, and you can self-cater or be catered for at the Clubhouse restaurant. Lots of outdoor activities are completely free of charge, and the milkwood forests and lagoon will provide hours of fun.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

If you want to be closer to the central area (restaurant, bar and pool), opt for a Stone Cottage. Lawns is the largest (sleeping up to 11), with 2 bedrooms, a loft dorm room with 5 single beds for kids, and a separate 1-bedroom cottage that can be booked with it. Garden and Milkwood (sleeping 4-6) have 2 double/twin bedrooms and space for 2 extra beds. Or, for more privacy and spectacular views, choose a Boathouse (sleeping 4-8), which comes with 2 or 3 bedrooms plus 2 sofa beds, and is set slightly further from the Clubhouse (5-minute walk along a sandy path). Note: the Boathouses have showers only, no bathtubs.

Babysitting:

Childcare services are available but must be pre-booked.

Baby equipment:

Cots, highchairs

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

Kids Activities on site:

  • 2 Swimming pools
  • Stand-up paddleboarding
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing dinghies
  • Lawn and board games
  • Fat bikes
  • Play area and games room in the Clubhouse
  • Table tennis, table football and pool

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Quad biking
  • Sailing lessons
  • Whale watching
  • Tennis
  • Klein River trips
  • Guided nature walks
  • Panthera Africa – the big cat sanctuary just outside Stanford
  • Beaches - Walker Bay is 5km from the cottages (you will need a 4x4 or a pre-booked beach excursion

Families Should Know:

Kids will need to be supervised when near the water.

Distances:

  • Airport: 2 hours
  • Hospital: 35 minutes (Hermanus)
  • Shops: 15 minutes (Stanford), 35 minutes (Hermanus)
Kid Friendly:

Location

Coot Club lies along the Hermanus Lagoon, on the Western Cape of South Africa. The bucolic village of Stanford is a 15-minute drive away. Hermanus is 30 minutes, Cape Town is 2 hours.

By Air
The nearest airport is Cape Town International (140km).

From the Airport
Your best option is to hire a car at the airport as Coot Club is isolated and you’ll need a vehicle to explore the region.

By Car
From Cape Town, there are two main routes to get to Coot Club: the scenic ocean route along the R44, which takes about 2.5 hours, and the more direct route along the N2, which takes 2 hours. Note: the last 15 minutes is on a gravel road. If you want to hire a car see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Cape Town International 140.0 km CPT

Other:

  • Beach 5.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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