Farm 215

near Gansbaai, Hermanus & Overberg, South Africa Book from Book from £131 per night

Eco-chic retreat and private nature reserve with far-reaching sea and fynbos views: a great stop-off between Cape Town and the Garden Route
200km down the coast from Cape Town, near Africa's most southerly point, is a land dominated by ancient vegetation, flower fields and coastal plains. Many come to see the whales from the shore, but if you drive inland up a 4km gravel track you can reach Farm 215. Don't be put off by its simple entrance sign - this will not be a wasted journey.

Less farm, more private nature reserve, it's a renovated homestead in the heart of a vast expanse of unspoilt fynbos heathland. Only occasional breezes and birdsong interrupt the deep stillness here. Of its 6 rooms, 3 are freestanding suites: stylish and comfortable, yet run on 100% green energy powered by the sun. Lie in bed and you'll believe you're sleeping outside: wall-to-wall windows give astonishing views across the plains to the distant ocean. It's rural but not rustic: clean lines and fine wine mean you won't be roughing it. Owner Maarten has harmonised nature and hotel together, then wrapped it up with some serious eco-savvy.

Highs

  • An incredible sense of space, wilderness and tranquillity, yet it's only a 2.5-hour drive from Cape Town
  • Simple luxury and huge views from the rooms
  • Friendly staff have expert knowledge of the surroundings; we loved hearing about the reserve's baboons and Cape leopards
  • A striking 25m lap pool, with views out to the Atlantic
  • Hiking through stunning wildflowers, horse-riding along the beach and and nearby shore-based whale watching

Lows

  • On our most recent visit, the furnishings were looking tired
  • Dinners are a set menu, so let them know dietary restrictions in advance. Arrival-night dinner reservations should be made in advance
  • During November and December it can get quite windy
  • Be aware that the Fynbos Suites are run on solar power (in keeping with the eco ethos). So no air con, fridge or hairdryer

Best time to go

It depends on what you want to see and do: peak flowering is between April and November, while the whale season runs from August to December. For horse trails the best time is between February and April, before the winter rains arrive. November and December can get very windy (although it was pretty calm when we stayed at the beginning of December).

The hotel is normally closed throughout June and July.

Our top tips

Although Western Cape water shortages have been internationally reported during early 2018, Farm 215 Private Nature Reserve is not experiencing any water restrictions. It has its own approved water source in the reserve and water is plenty. The downstream effect of Farm 215's water-use is tiny since all used water is routed back in to the reserve's streams. In general, this part of the Overberg is not experiencing any water issues.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 6
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Over 12s 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
Room:

Rooms

There are 6 rooms but the gems are the contemporary free-standing Fynbos Suites, utterly private, set along a path that meanders through the reserve (the furthest is about 300m from the homestead). At night you'll need to use the torch to get back from the restaurant, but the payoff for this is magnificent stargazing. And by day, wall-to-wall glass reveals an outstanding view across the fynbos. All that separates you from the flora and fauna is a long wooden deck. Outside, there's a table and chairs - perfect for sundowners.

Inside the suites have a clever open-plan arrangement, sectioned into 3 areas for living, sleeping and bathing. Wherever you are, the view never leaves you. This makes you feel like you're living outside whilst remaining cosy indoors. Colours are warm earthen tones: cream polished concrete floors, 200-thread khaki sheets, moss-coloured walls. Furnishings are wood or leather. Electricity is sourced through solar panels and stored in batteries, and there are wood-burning stoves to keep you toasty.

The bathrooms have stainless steel sinks, large bathtubs and limestone shower rooms. You get fluffy towels and bathrobes. Toiletries are from Just Pure, the ‘Fleur Sauvage’ range made with essential oils sourced from fynbos (lavender, rose geranium, rosemary, helichrysum and lippia javanica). Sometimes the water can appear golden-red, but it's safe to drink due to the local source and eco filtration.

Back in the main house are 3 Homestead Rooms - 2 upstairs and 1 downstairs. The views from the upstairs rooms can't compare with the suites, but they're pretty good nonetheless and stretch out across the reserve. The third room is downstairs and larger, with its own living area and a double shower. There's slightly less of a view than in the upstairs rooms, but it does have its own covered terrace with loungers and a small, enclosed garden. The style in these rooms is less cutting-edge but just as comfortable, with big beds, wooden floors, rugs, large sash windows, slick bathrooms (with bathtubs and showers) and wood stoves for cooler nights. The advantage of being in the homestead is that you're that little bit closer to the dining area and pool.

All rooms have crisp 100% percale linen and goose down duvets, as well as fans. There are no TVs in this place - with these views it would be a sin.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The contemporary dining room is a lovely space set behind the main house, connected to the pool area by long wooden walkways. Bi-fold doors open to a terrace with stunning views for alfresco dining. There are evocative photographs on the walls, and wood stoves to keep you warm when the weather gets cool.

Dinners are a set menu, using fresh local ingredients from the farm's own garden and poultry pen. It's good home-cooked food rather than fussy restaurant fodder; the vibe is informal. The first time we stayed, we enjoyed homemade soup and chicken pie. For dessert we helped ourselves to cheese, homemade chutneys and a glass of port. On our most-recent visit there was a mushroom rosti, followed by steak and chips, and a chocolate mousse with a sesame crisp.

The simple breakfast buffet typically includes fruit, yoghurts, muesli, fresh juices, toast, cafetière coffee and a selection of teas, as well as eggs and bacon made to order. Staff can prepare a picnic for you to take on an excursion or, if you want to stick around during the day, they can arrange lunch - just let them know beforehand.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go walking: there are 20km of trails through the reserve and surrounding hills, through indigenous fynbos and incredible wild flowers and fauna (we saw wild tortoises, antelope, baboons and snakes). If you want to learn more, go with an expert guide

  • Stay put: rest, relax and absorb the wonderful natural surroundings, check out the interesting collection of books in the homestead, take an invigorating dip in the lap pool, and arrange a massage in the privacy of your room

  • There's wonderful horse riding on offer: 1-2 hour rides in the nature reserve itself, or day trails, which can bring you along the beach of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve. (The African Horse Company organises trips from its station at Stanford, a 30-minute drive from Farm 215.)

  • Head to the coast (a 20-minute drive). Explore empty sandy beaches (Pearly Beach is a favourite), caves and cliff paths, and spot rare birds, penguins and seals. Cape Agulhas - Africa's southernmost point - is 70km away. Arniston (Waenhuiskrans), an old traditional fishing town on a pristine beach near a small nature reserve, is also worth a trip

  • Go whale-watching: Walker Bay (between Gansbaai and Hermanus) is one of the world's best spots for spotting southern right whales from the shore (between August and December)

  • Get up close to great white sharks: take a boat trip and cage dive amongst these awe-inspiring creatures

  • Visit the sleepy missionary town of Elim (25km) - ideal for those who want to get even further off the beaten track

  • Stargaze: on a clear night sit on your deck and stare at the crystal firmament

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cage diving
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Swimming
  • Trekking
  • Whale watching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children over 12 years old are welcome. They're charged at the full adult rate; no extra beds are available but sofas can be converted or a mattress on the floor added.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Farm 215 is located along the 100km stretch of coast from Stanford to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most point of the African continent, near the entrance to the Agulhas National Park. The reserve itself is located in the middle of a mosaic of vineyards, farmland, flower orchards and unspoilt nature.

By Air
Cape Town International (150km away) is the nearest airport and has many links to Europe, the USA and beyond - click on the links below for a list of airlines.

From the Airport
It is just over 2 hours' drive from Cape Town International, heading east via Hermanus. Accessed from the 'Fynbos Road' along the southern point of Africa, the gate to Farm 215 is about 20km from the fishing village of Gansbaai, on the road to Baardskeerdersbos and Elim.

By Car
For car hire see our car rental recommendations. The last 4km to the farm are along a gravel road - it's suitable for normal cars, but watch out for potholes.

Detailed directions will be provided when a booking is confirmed through i-escape.com.

More on getting to South Africa and getting around.

Airports:

  • Cape Town International 150.0 km CPT

Other:

  • Beach 20.0 km
  • Shops 20.0 km
  • Restaurant 25.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Beautiful place with amazing design features and spectacular views. You are made to feel so welcome and leave so inspired by their project and amazing eco accomplishments

10/10,

If you compare price:value with other guesthouses in the Western Cape it is a rather expensive place for what you get. But considering that the employees have good salaries and fair conditions and that Farm 215 is really environmentally conscious, it is worth it.

9/10,

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