Just under a two hour scenic drive from Cape Town situated in the Breede Valley, lies a perfect little hideaway, Bosjes. You may very well remember me spamming your social feeds a few weeks back when we went to stay there for two nights. Named after the old Bosjesman’s Valley Farm which has been owed by the same family since 1831.
The farm had a complete renovation just over a year ago and is fast becoming one of the most popular wedding destinations in the Western Cape thanks to it’s architectural masterpiece, The Chapel, and it’s breathtaking views.
The old farm barn has been converted into a guesthouse comprising of five luxury suites and a shared swimming pool overlooking the nearby mountains.
After checking in we headed straight for the restaurant (obvs!), Bosjes Kombuis. A beautiful Scandi design with high ceiling, lots of wood and large glass windows offering you the best lunchtime views in the valley. The menu, which is created by Chef Pete Goffe-Wood and Chef Kim, is a combination of various bistro-style dishes. Think refined home cooking, with dishes like apple and plum crumble that take you straight back to your childhood.
We pretty much ate our way through the entire menu during our stay. Everything from the Moroccon style spiced chicken with cous cous and apricots to the tempura duck livers with pickled cucumbers (what a combo!) however our standout meal, which I still think about to this day, would be Chef Kim’s fillet medallions cooked to absolute perfection served with potato dauphinoise, sautéed greens and (yes, hear me out) crumbed exotic mushrooms. Paired perfectly with a bottle of Syrah.
Outside tables spill out onto the terrace besides a rather whimsical mural consisting of 366 blue and white hand painted tiles featuring over 100 species of flora and fauna by artists Lucie de Moyencourt and Michael Chandler. The inspiration behind the design is that of the old shards of porcelain that were dug up on the farm. Bosjes’ very own Tree of Life reminding me of my Portuguese adventures around Porto last year with all their blue and white Azulejos.
P.S it makes for a perfect ‘insta-moment’.
We spent a lot of time at the Bosjes Chapel in the mornings and evenings as it’s the most marvellous light study.
Designed by architect Coetzee Steyn of Steyn Studio, the Bosjes Chapel is hard not to gape at. Striking white curves and a seamless flowing roof that merges so effortlessly with the water that surrounds it. Once inside the chapel you are greeted by the Slanghoek and Waaihoek mountain range through the chapel’s large glass windows and a sense of serenity washes over you.
Alongside the chapel is a charming garden, complete with a meditative circular walkway and a sculptural water feature, and close by is the estate’s new sunken tea garden. Unfortunately the tea garden was closed for renovations during our stay but when it’s open you can expect to find all your favourite sweet and savoury refreshments in the garden’s amphitheatre.
TIP: Make sure when visiting to take a stroll up the hill beside the chapel for an overview of the farm. Best enjoyed at sunset.
Mornings on the farm start peacefully, with the sun slowly rising from the mountain range as the dew clears up from the guesthouse’s windows. A continental breakfast is served in the communal dining area which comprises of freshly pressed juices, various home-baked farm style breads, meats, cheeses and fresh fruit.
A stroll around the farm in highly recommended, you may even bump into one (or two) of Bosjes’ honorary residents – the black swans – enjoying their morning sun. Bosjes is a working farm which produces wine grapes, olives, peaches and proteas, so the farm is usually buzzing with activity in the mornings.
If you feeling a little more energetic the farm also offers 5km and 12km hiking trails which is home to some tame game such as bontebok, zebra and ostrich, if you lucky you’ll even spot some giraffes. Birdwatchers will be in paradise, the Bosjes’ website even has a full downloadable birdwatching list. See here.
If hiking isn’t your thing there are 27 wineries nearby and 4 craft beer breweries. Some of my favourites being the Stofberg Family Vineyards and Bergsig Estate and if you prepared for an hour drive, Springfield Estate in Robertson.
Overall we had the most magnificent stay at Bosjes. A true space to slow things down and take a moment of two for yourself amongst the Slanghoek Mountains.
Photos by myself and Justin Polkey
Last week we headed out of town for a two day adventure in the winelands to celebrate my birthday. I’m a bit of an introvert and not big on parties but prefer getaways, particularly ones that include lots of food, as my birthday treat.
Our first stop on our mini road trip was Terroir at Kleine Zalze, a quiet vineyard setting overlooking the mountains of Stellenbosch where we were greeted by Chef Michael Broughton who has been running to kitchen at Terroir since 2004. I was completely blown away with my experience at Terroir. No fancy entrance or decor, no frilly airs and graces but rather a restaurant that serves exceptional food plated with a certain flare and refinement. The service is phenomenal with the perfect amount of small talk from the waiters and small touches like the refolding of our napkins each time we got up to take a stroll around the garden.
It’s hard to choose a favourite dish from our four course (more like eight because Justin and I shared each dish on the menu) tasting menu however the Malay style baby squid with smoked mackerel, aioli and coconut was a definite stand out, presented as a beautiful wreath and robust in flavour, I won’t be forgetting that dish anytime soon.
Each dish on the menu was paired perfectly with Kleine Zalze’s award winning wines. The perfect opportunity to sample and savour the the farms wines. In the end we stocked up on a case their 2016 Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier, a fruity wine with allspice flavours and floral nose. They also have a range of rather affordable yet sophisticated MCC’s.
Kleine Zalze are currently running a winter special which is valid till the 30th September – a 2 course menu for R295 or a four course menu for R450 p.p with each special including a glass of Kleine Zalze award winning wine. Booking is recommended.
Terroir’s menu evolves with the seasons and the inspiration of chef Michael Broughton however I’ve attached an example of what we experienced below in order of the images:
Comté onion soup with a poached hens egg and onion brioche
Malay style baby squid with smoked mackerel, aïoli and coconut
Prawn risotto with Broughton’s famous sauce américaine (This dish has been on the menu for 14 years!)
Lamb with parision gnocchi, kimchi, aïoli and jus
Duck with roasted kohlrabi, rhubarb jus and carrot crumble
Pan fried line fish served with coconut yogurt curry, bhaji, pak choi and confit onion
Sacher with caramel crunch and kirsch ice cream
Vanilla bean tart with honey ice cream and almond crumble
With fill and happy tummies we headed to Majeka House in Stellenbosch to check in for our night’s stay. Majeka House has been on my travel wish list for years now and was voted the best design hotel in the Condé Nast Johansens 2017 awards. The hotel is situated in a small leafy suburb of Stellenbosch surrounded by mountains and vineyards and a ten minute drive to the town’s centre.
The hotel went under a major refurbishment in 2011 by designer Etienne Hanekom who created a “neo-colonial look with subtle French and Moroccan influences.” A light and airy ambience is filled with hand crafted furniture and quirky design details such as a statue, carving or painting of a pig as a tribute to the owner’s love for the animal.
We were shown to our dreamy poolside room complete with flamingo wallpaper making all my pink and electric dreams come true. Majeka House has a total of 23 rooms spread across four room categories offering a wealth of experiences for a variety of travellers.
I spent the remainder of my afternoon between the hydrotherapy pool, sauna and swimming pool at Majeka House’s very own spa. A beautiful open space that allows for the flow of light courtesy of their sky light. With two single therapy rooms and a room for couples’ treatments, the spa offers a range of holistic facial and body treatments, unfortunately they were fully booked during our stay.
Makaron restaurant was closed so dinner was served in the cosy MLounge amongst the bookshelves of French novels where we dined on oysters and bubbles, a wagyu beef burger and calamari. We retired to our room early to watch the FIFA world cup from our insanely large and comfortable hotel bed.
I woke up on next morning a year older and a whole lot happier, the loviest of staff at Majeka House had baked me my very own birthday cake. A sort of carrot cake topped with a blue berry compote, fresh mint and layered in cream cheese frosting – yes please!
Breakfast was served out on the garden terrace amongst the mosaic tiles and Moroccan inspired cacti. If there’s one thing Majeka House do better than most hotels it has got to be their breakfast. A selection of freshly baked pastries from classic croissants to mouth watering madeleines and french caramels and a selection of freshly baked breads. Bubbles and fruit jars adorn the buffet table with too many delicious dishes to choose from the hot menu. I was torn between the warm whiskey oats and the smoked salmon rösti. I vow to return to Majeka House just to eat every pastry on their breakfast table. It’s sublime.
Majeka House lived up to all my expectations and more. Such warm and welcoming service throughout our stay and I seriously hope to return one day soon.
All packed up we bid our farewells to Majeka House and took the scenic route to Franschhoek via Helshoogte pass for our next foodie stop – Haute Cabrière.
I’ve always been a fan of Haute Cabrière’s wines, particularly their Chardonnay Pinot Noir which pairs perfectly with sushi during those hot summer days, however on this particular chilly winter’s afternoon I was craving a big glass of their Reserve Pinot Noir – a fruity wine with hints of tobacco and spice.
Lunch was served inside, an elegant setting nestled inside a stone cellar beside a majestic fireplace. We opted for a two course meal from their a la carte menu, they also offer a 6 course tasting menu which offers an explosion of flavours such as pan fried sweet bread and venison ragout. The food philosophy of Haute Cabrière is courtesy of chefs Nic van Wyk and Westley Muller who inspire bold flavours while making use of classic techniques.
Haute Cabrière’s winter prices are seriously reasonable with a full 6 course tasting menu costing R450 p.p for both food and wine. (Valid till 31 August) As mentioned earlier we just opted for the two course menu which costs R290 for a starter and a main.
Pea and chorizo soup. Fresh peas, crispy chorizo, pork puff and pea velouote
Steak tartare. Hand cut sirloin with a quail egg (Is that not the prettiest steak tartare you’ve ever seen?!)
Prawns. Fresh tagliatelle, chill, garlic, parsley and parmesan
Wild mushroom risotto. Parmesan and truffle foam
See their full menu here.
Our final stop on our Cape Winelands tour was La Petite Ferme. “A destination for all local and international guests, offering award-winning cuisine, wines and accommodation” and the most spectacular view of the whole of Franschhoek.
The story behind this establishment is truly something quite beautiful. The 40 seater restaurant burnt down in a tragic fire back in 1996, what’s truly remarkable though is that it was brought back to life over the next 6 months thanks to the local community and staff who still work in the kitchen to this day.
La Petite Ferme offers a range of luxury accommodation with large rooms that boost the best of views. We had our own private liabary suite with (once again) our own swimming pool. Pity the weather turned on us otherwise I might just have spent my whole afternoon soaking up he remaining warmth like a lizard in the sun.
With the change in weather and the restaurant closed for the evening we decided to order some cheeky room service. My meal was outstanding and definitely the most plate worthy (read insta worthy) room service I’ve ever received which has only left me wanting to return to La Petite Ferme to experience their full on dining experience.
Breakfast was served the following morning in their newly renovated bright and elegant restaurant while fires blazed in each corner. Their full farm breakfast still makes my mouth water whenever I think about it. Edamame beans, foraged mushrooms and smoked bacon- simple, hearty and absolutely delicious.
After breakfast we had a wine orientation guided by a very charismatic Avron Williams to learn about the history of La Petite Ferme’s wine making and the growth of their vines. Every wine orientation is followed by a seated tasting of their beautiful wines in the bar with a story of how each wine came into fruition. We tasted a total of 6 of their wines – three reds and three whites. My favourite still being their Shiraz. It’s a truly unique and interesting experience that left me wanting to sign up for a mini wine course of sorts to learn more about wine.
The Cape Winelands are looking truly remarkable at this time of the year and most restaurants and hotels are running winter deals, it’s the perfect excuse to plan a weekend away with your loved one or friends. In my opinion Cape Town is actually more beautiful during the winter so why not embrace it and swap Netflix out for a lunch amounts the vineyards.
*All photos by myself and Justin Polkey.
We recently spent a night at The Silo Hotel. A new hotel in the heart of the Silo District down by the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. A spectacular hotel that celebrates art, style, architecture and design. A tribute to timeless glamour and contemporary luxury on an international level.
Besides the fact that it’s won several awards including coming 12th in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards for best hotels in Africa, the Condé Nast Hot List and the Jetsetter’s Best Hotel Awards: Best Boutique Hotel in the World 2018 here’s 10 reasons why you simple have to book your stay at The Silo Hotel…
1.) IT’S INSTAGRAMABLE
Admit it, you totally consider the picture worthy moments and spaces before booking a hotel or guest house when traveling? If you don’t, I take my hat off to you. Myself on the other hand considers travel accommodation as a sort of business expense. (At least that’s how I justify it to myself when I travel.)
Each room has it’s own unique colour palette and art collection. “A happy marriage of vibrant silks and velvets in deep purple and bottle green, ice blues, hot mustard, sunshine yellow and mandarin orange; the ballroom-worthy bathrooms are lit by Egyptian-crystal chandeliers.”
The Silo Hotel indulged all of my Instagram fantasies, from breathtaking views to princess bath tubs, I was in a visual paradise.
The Silo Hotel is perfectly located in the heart of the Silo District just a stones throw away from the V&A Waterfront. Super central and within walking distance to either the Sea Point promenade or the buzzing activities of Long Street. It’s doesn’t get more location worthy than that.
3.) IT WAS DESIGNED BY AN ARCHITECTURAL GENIUS
Designed by the Heatherwick Studio “the 28-bedroom hotel inhabits the upper floors of the silos’ former elevator house, the work-horse of the original complex. It is now distinguished by remarkable, 5.5-metre windows, described as ‘pillowed glazing panels‘, which gently balloon out, saturating the hotel in sparkling light, and providing expansive views of Table Mountain, the always-busy port, and the shops and restaurants of the V&A Waterfront below.”
4.) IT HAS A LUXURIOUS SPA
We were treated to a massage at The Silo Hotel’s spa during our stay. A modern, minimalistic space that leaves you feeling like you’ve been transported to a Scandinavian hideaway in the snowy mountainside.
Your treatment starts with a small consultation to create an indulgent spa experience suited to your skin type and needs. I had an hour long Tension Release massage as I’ve been doing a lot of sports and exercise lately and feel permanently stiff. A combination of stretching and pulling techniques, trigger point therapy and cross muscle fibre techniques are used alongside heat and cooling gel to help release the tension in the muscles followed by some delicious Comoe Sky tea.
Everything from the heated bed with baby powder to the hot rocks used during my massage encouraged me to relax and breath – something I have not done much of lately. I was a little stiff the day after my massage but apparently this is normal, but 2 days after I felt fully relaxed and ready to book a second massage.
The spa is open to the public (subject to availability) and included access to the sauna and gym. See the full spa menu here.
5.) THE FOOD
Let’s cut to the chase, anyone that follows me on social media knows that I love to eat… a lot. The food served at hotels are a total deal breaker for me. I’m happy to report that all my meals throughout my stay were absolutely delicious.
For lunch we had the seared scallops, citrus salad (because seafood and citrus are too good to eat alone and should always be paired) and the seafood pasta followed by a cheesy dessert all accompanied by the most beautiful views at The Granary Cafe within The Silo Hotel.
Dinner was classic steak, fries and red wine. All their products are sourced from sustainable sources and cooked to perfection.
For breakfast we decided to change things up and ordered room service, also I wanted to maximise as much time as possible in our magnificent hotel room. A selection of all things yummy arrived at our door – bread basket, salmon, eggs, fruit salad, cheeses and meat, you name it, it was there.
The Silo hotel has been designed with the public in mind. Anyone can go enjoy a hearty meal or a light breakfast at The Granary Cafe or Willaston Bar which happen to take up the whole of the sixth floor. I’m dying to try their Sunday roast, something I miss dearly when I am away from England.
Read more about The Silo’s food experiences here.
6.) IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
At The Silo Hotel no stone is left unturned. I’m a total sucker for small details and clearly the hotel is too. From the hand written greeting and box of snacks left in the room, (yes, including a bottle of bubbles for my soul) to the silk robes and embroidered bedding it was noticed and adored. It’s the little details that count the most.
They even made an effort to leave water restriction notices on each bedside table as well as in the bathrooms next to the basins. Informing guests of Cape Town’s current water situation and encouraging them to reuse towels and bedding. #Details.
7.) IT HAS IT’S OWN ART COLLECTION
Liz Biden has been growing her collection of African art over the years and the hotel acts as her gallery, including an underground gallery situated in the parking lot known as The Vault. Each room and hallway plays host to some beautiful pieces by young African artists such as Frances Goodman and Cyrus Kabiru.
Not to mention the worlds largest collection of contemporary African art is housed in the the Zeitz MOCAA just below the hotel. A must visit if for your Cape Town travel guide – 9 floors and over 100 galleries filled with a diverse range of African art.
Admission prices to Zeitz MOCAA are as follows:
– Single Day Entry: ZAR 180
– Annual Membership: ZAR 250
– Free admissions to all under 18’s.
– Free admissions for all South Africans between 10am and 1pm every Wednesday.
– Half price admissions for all on ‘Late Night Fridays’.
8.) IT MADE THE CONDE NAST HOT LIST FOR 2017
There’s no denying the brilliance of this hotel. Everything has been thought of and everyone has been catered for, it’s no wonder the hotel made Conde Nast’s Hot List in 2017.
A magnificent piece of architecture filled with a dazzling sort of luxury, a first for Cape Town.
9.) WORLD CLASS FACILITIES
The Silo Hotel has all the necessary facilities and amenities to ensure you have a relaxing, practical and efficient stay.
A well equipped gym (which I made plenty of use of during my stay), rooftop swimming pool with incredible 360 degree views of Cape Town, free unlimited wifi – it’s a pet peeve of mine when hotels charge you for internet, forgot to get your manicure before traveling? No stress, their spa is amazing as mentioned earlier.
Some of the other facilities they have include airport transfers, laundry service, private meeting and dining rooms and 24 hour guest services.
10.) PHENOMENAL SERVICE
From the moment our stay was booked online till the time we checked out and our bags were packed into the car we never experienced anything but phenomenal service from the staff at The Silo Hotel.
I have never experienced such exceptional service in South Africa. All staff members were willing, engaging, conversationalists, knowledgeable, worldly and most of all caring. The hotel would not be the same without them.
H&M white shirt
Country Road red shorts
H&M mini skirt
Witchery polar neck
Balmain x H&M blazer
Witchery over the knee boots
Chanel W.O.C bag
* In collaboration with The Silo Hotel. All views and opinions are my own.
All photos by myself and Justin Polkey.
Casa Mãe is by far the most design savvy hotel I’ve ever stayed in. From the moment you step into the hotel lobby a sense of relief and relaxation washes over you. It’s the combination of the use of raw materials, the friendly faces that guide you to your room and the fact that Casa Mãe embraces slow living with everything they do.
The hotel is situation within the old city walls of Lagos and surrounded by a 7000sqm organic vegetable garden and a 10 minute walk to the nearest beach.
Combining old and new traditions through modern architecture Casa Mãe has a total of 30 rooms throughout three different houses on the farm.
We stayed in the 19th century farm house Casa Mãe, which the hotel happens to be named after too, in room Poço (meaning well in Portuguese). It is situated on one of the highest points of Lagos and boosts spectacular views of both the old city and the blue Atlantic ocean.
The space has been renovated yet still maintains it’s original character and has been furnished with an electic selection of Portuguese vintage pieces and contemporary furniture that immediately inspires your thoughts.
It’s the little touches that make this place so special. From the old school vinyls playing as you enter your room, the offering of organic fruits handpicked from the garden waiting on your table to the no-wastage homemade shower gel and shampoo. The design team behind Casa Mãe have thought of everything in true Portuguese craftsmanship.
Once we had settled into our room we headed to the pool to catch some last minute sun before dinner. A triangle shaped pool surrounded by greenery of all sorts and plenty of lazy lounging space.
There is also a causal fine dining pop up restaurant with a romantic terrace tucked-in between the house and the old city walls to enjoy and a mercearia (a grocery store) stocking some of Casa Mãe’s latest natural wine discoveries.
As soon as the sun left we went back upstairs to get ready for dinner but found that we had some time to kill before making our way to Orta, Casa Mãe’s onsite restaurant, so we headed downstairs to their communal living space.
An incredibly stylish art deco space filled with 2 metre high palms, lazy leather armchairs and delicious eye candy coffee table books.
Can I stay forever please?!
Dinner was an absolute dream. I felt like I had stepped on set for the Portuguese version of Lala Land. Fairy lights and palm silhouettes set the scene while the chefs busied themselves in the open plan al fresco barbecue.
We had oysters to start (the freshest oysters I’ve ever had!) and for mains I opted for the grilled squid with roasted egg plant and potatoes. Everything was cooked to absolute perfection and you could taste the farm to table mentality.
After dinner we took a stroll around the vegetable garden then headed back to our room where I took the greatest pleasure in drawing myself a big, steaming hot bath. With the current water crisis in South Africa and no bathtub in London I haven’t had a bath in almost a year!
I left the double story french doors open so I could enjoy the light summer breeze that was coming in through the windows and emerged myself in the water so that only my nose and eyes were sticking out. I stayed in the bath for so long that by the time I climbed out the water had gone cold and my toes had turned into prunes.
I wrapped myself in a fresh white bath robe and climbed straight into the tightly pulled cotton sheets of my king size bed. Utter bliss. It truly is the little things is life that bring the largest amounts of joy.
I fell asleep to the calm bustle of the Lagos streets outside.
If you book a stay as Casa Mãe I highly recommend adding breakfast to your stay. Everything is healthy, fresh and filled with ‘sunny’ flavours.
We ordered a table full of food and devoured it all! Everything’s organic with craft coffee (the first I’d come across in Portugal) to boast.
Breakfast highlight was definitely the boiled eggs with toasted soldiers.
(All of Casa Mãe’s chickens are fed kale and oranges!)
Casa Mãe also has a cool concept store next door to their lobby, LOJA, which stocks non-touristy but curated goods all about craft and Portugal. Everything in the store is either a collaboration piece or a limited edition piece from a project with a Portuguese designer or artisan.
All in all our stay at Casa Mãe blew my mind and I can not wait to go back to Lagos for a second visit. I think next time I want to try book a room in the modern section, Jogo da Bola, and hopefully catch one of their outdoor cinema experiences & perhaps a yoga class too.
If you ever happen to be passing through Lagos Portugal I can not recommend Casa Mãe more highly.
P.S Did I mention that it hasn’t even been open for a full year yet! Can’t wait to see what they create next.
All photo’s by myself and Justin Polkey