Farm 215

near Gansbaai, Hermanus & Overberg, South Africa Book from R2000

Stunning 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

  • There's an incredible sense of space, wilderness and tranquillity, yet it's only a 2.5-hour drive from Cape Town
  • The innovative Fynbos Suites offer simple luxury and huge views
  • The friendly, passionate and generous staff have expert knowledge of the surrounding flora and fauna
  • The striking 25m lap pool stretches towards the ocean
  • There's a contemporary dining area where you can enjoy warm fires and an eclectic collection of music and books (from Roberts' Birds of South Africa to The History of Punk)
  • It's set in one of the world's richest floral kingdoms, has won awards for its sustainable land use and it’s close to great shore-based whale-watching, horse riding and hiking trails

Lows

  • The reserve is accessed via a 4km gravel track - not for the faint-hearted, though perfectly fine for normal cars
  • Its remoteness makes this a destination, not just somewhere to stay for a night
  • During November and December it can get quite windy
  • Dinner is a set menu, so let them know about any food preferences in advance

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 May and June.

Our top tips

Bring a good pair of walking shoes, binoculars and your favourite CDs. In winter the weather can change quickly, so make sure you have a warm jacket to hand at all times.

Great for...

Eco
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • 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 real gems are the 3 contemporary freestanding Fynbos Suites, set along a path that meanders through the heath (the furthest is about 300m from the main house). At night you'll need a torch (provided) to get back from the restaurant. In the morning you may find it takes a little longer to open the curtains: stretching across the entire length of the room they reveal a view across the fynbos that's simply magnificent. 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, mud-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 black fluffy towels and bathrobes. Toiletries are Cape Camomille Moya (made with lavender, geranium and ylang ylang oils). Be aware that hairdryers use too much electricity for the solar power and you're asked not to use them to prevent power trips. 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, Persian 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. A CD player and an eclectic selection of books and magazines should keep most happy. There are no TVs in this place - with these views it would be a sin.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The contemporary dining room is set behind the main house and is connected to the pool area by long wooden walkways. French doors open to a terrace for alfresco dining. There's a rich and varied array of books, evocative black and white photographs on the walls, and fireplaces to keep you warm when the weather gets cool. The air is informal: a wide range of music is played and if there's no-one around you're encouraged to help yourself to drinks behind the bar.

There's a set dinner menu, but whatever is served you can be sure that all meals use fresh local ingredients, whether from the farm's own garden and poultry pen or even a nearby pond (waterblommetjie, an aquatic plant, grows wild in the surrounding area). One of the joys of putting your appetite in the chef's hands is that you don't have to think too much (just let staff know of any specific culinary aversions) - "that's what chefs are for," they say.

We stayed for 2 nights. On the first evening we enjoyed homemade soup and chicken pie; on the second night we feasted on a delicious seafood spread - platters of salmon sourced from a local dam, hake, huge prawns with garlic mayonnaise, smoked mussels and abalone with aubergine, accompanied by fresh asparagus and a black bean and pepper salad. For dessert we helped ourselves to cheese, homemade chutneys and a glass of port. We didn't go hungry.

The simple breakfast buffet typically includes eggs and bacon kept in a hot dish, as well as fruit, yoghurts, muesli, fresh juices, toast, cafetière coffee and a selection of teas. 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

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

  • Go walking: the 20km of trails in the surrounding hills and mountains, through abundant indigenous vegetation, flowers and fauna (including antelope, baboons, tortoises and snakes), are a nature lover's delight. If you want to learn more, go with an expert guide

  • Try horse riding: 2-9-day trails can bring you along the beach of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve and back to Farm 215 (the African Horse Company organises trips from its station at Stanford, a 30-minute drive from Farm 215)

  • Continue driving up the gravel road for another 25km to the sleepy missionary town of Elim - ideal for those who want to get even further off the beaten track

  • 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

  • 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
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children over 12 years old are welcome. They're charged at the full adult rate; no extra beds are available.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

{{ review.firstName }}{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},
Feedback is only from guests who have booked and stayed through i-escape

Rates for Farm 215