Bosjes – The perfect Breede Valley hideaway

September 14, 2018

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

The Untouched Coast of Vilankulo Mozambique

August 7, 2018

Earlier this year we travelled to Vilankulo. A small town situated along the Mozambique coastline that acts as a gateway to the ever so epic Bazaruto Archipelago. Originally called Vilanculos during colonial times the town was named after local tribal chief Gamala Vilankulo Mukoke, the name was changed to Vilankulo when Mozambique become independent 1975.

The beaches run endlessly up the coastline and are wild in nature with the each palm tree adopting their own personality. During low tide the ocean mysteriously hides itself leaving the once bobbing dhows stranded on the white sands longing  to be rescued against a seamless African sky dotted with cotton-candy clouds.

Each morning we would explore the wonderfully wide shores and sand-blasted hideaways that the coastline of Vilankulo had to offer us stopping from time to time to hide beneath a mangrove tree from the summer heat. We found plenty of washed up coconuts and mountains of wild oysters shells glistening in the sun.

All walks were proceeded by fresh coconut water that our chef at Vila La Mar, Ernesto, would prepare for us by effortlessly scaling a six metre palm tree out back with his machete, followed by a quick education about the three stages of coconut maturity.

We stayed at Vila La Mar for the week we spent in Vilankulo. A beautiful self-catering luxury villa situated on the beach and set back in lush tropical gardens. There’s not much to do at the villa besides soaking up the sun while reading endless summer novels. Which to be honest, suited me just fine.

As for Vilankulo itself there’s plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your stay:
Day trips to the nearby islands in the Bazaruto Archipelago. (Detailed blog post to follow soon about that.)
– Go for a sunset horse riding safari. Your guide will take you along parts of untouched beach for a real ‘island hideaway’ feel. You even have the option of going swimming with the horses.
Explore the small (only 5km) town of Vilankulo. The town shuts down on Sunday’s so make a plan to visit during the week.
Go shopping for fresh fish for dinner. Every afternoon, around 4pm at the beach near Oddysea Dive, the fishermen beach their motleyed dhows. Women and children load the fish and seafood into colourful plastic buckets and a pop-up auction follows. This is a small glimpse into the daily lives of the locals.
Visit local beach bars such as Casbah, Samara or Archipelago Resort for lunch and cocktails.
Go diving/snorkelling. I have never seen so many colourful fish in such close proximity. I’ve snorkelled in a lot of places around the world and the Archipelago still wins hands down. The Bazaruto islands and its surrounding coral reefs were declared a national park in 1971.
– If horse riding isn’t for you there’s always the option to go on a sunset dhow safari.
– Vilanculos is the perfect place to learn to kite surf.

Vilankulo has been growing extensively over the last decade with a considerable inward investment into its tourism infrastructure. It is home to a new international airport which has daily flights to several regional destinations.

With that being said the town is still very rural with most of the locals living a very simple life either farming or fishing while most homes are built out of dried reeds and tin. Colour is embraced throughout the town with the colour blocking of buildings and handmade garments. Games of informal football take place on the beach while fisherman mend their nets nearby or play a game of cards.

A special shoutout to two of my very best friends Marius and Paul for introducing us to Vilankulo who unfortunately had to drop out of our holiday due to medical reasons. They always used to tell us stories about this small Mozambique town and how special the place was but I never fully grasped it’s magic until I got to experience it for myself.

An untouched coastline, thousands of wild palm trees, a preserved coral reef still abundant with sea life, azure blue waters with deserted islands scattered throughout, simple living consisting of fresh coconuts and omega rich fish. What’s not to love?

Till next time Vilankulo.

wearing:
orange swimsuit – Sommer Swim
white flare trousers – H&M Studio
cat eye sunnies – Le Specs
mini fang necklace – Missoma
black dress – H&M Trend
stripped espadrilles – H&M
wooden bag – Shop On Y Va
tortoise shell sunnies – Miu Miu
lace lingerie – Cotton On Body
white tee – Mango
yellow jumper – Holiday Boileau
denim shorts – Zara
round basket bag – Shop On Y Va
rope sandals – Nomadic State of Mind
yellow floral dress – Mango
yellow dress – Free People
maroon sandals – Trenery
stripped shorts – Billabong
stripped silk set – H&M Trend
flat sunnies – Celine
white shirt – H&M Trend
basket shopper – Cotton On


* All photos taken by myself and Justin Polkey 

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Bittersweet Goodbyes in Agistri

February 10, 2018

Our final stop on our week long sailing adventure around the Mediterranean was the quaint island of Agistri. The island is know for it’s crystal clear blue waters and only boosts a population of around 1200 people! It’s 55 minutes from Piraeus, the main port of Athens, and only 10 minutes from Aegina island making it a popular weekend getaway.

Arriving in Agistri was truly something special. The water started changing colours, from a deep, dark blue to a magical turquoise with white seabeds. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Agistri is a fairly big island so as soon as we had docked our yacht at the port we headed out to find the nearest scooter rental and an ice cold frappe, I was excited to see what the rest of the island had in store for us.

We spent the day riding around on scooters, adventuring down to various beaches, (We even came across some of the island’s famous naturist beaches – Halikiada and Chalikiada.) drove through hundred year old olive groves till eventually we reached the one end of the island which was home to a family run restaurant right on the waters edge, quite literally.

There’s nothing more refreshing then an ice cold beer when you’ve been riding around in the sun all day. Still the best beer I’ve ever had. After a delicious lunch and a quick float in the ocean we headed back through the pine shadowed roads to the main port to get ready for our farewell toga party dinner.

The toga party was a lot of fun, we all used our sheets from the boats to create our evening looks. I topped my off with a bit of vine I found while exploring the island earlier that day, a waisted belt and some gold jewels. We spent the night laughing loudly, learning local dance moves around the pool and won the Lady Gaga dress up competition using one roll of tinfoil and a roll of toilet paper.

With the team spirit high we ventured into the dark night to steal the trophy awarded to the other team for the yacht race that took place the day before. After all, it was meant to be ours.
(Read my previous Greek post, The Ancient Island of Poros, for the full story.)
We then proceeded to fill the trophy with cheap white wine and passed the cup around for everyone to have a drink. I loved my team!

Setting sail for Athens on Friday morning was a bittersweet goodbye, it had been the most incredible holiday with some amazing people that I am still friends with to this day. Greece is a magical place filled with humble souls, delicious food and some incredible forces of nature.

Maybe one day I’ll buy myself a small holding on some far away island and enjoy the last years of my life with my pack of dogs in the Mediterranean sun eating fresh fish and drinking cold retsina. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

THINGS TO DO IN AGISTRI:

– Rent a scooter and explore the island.
– Visit the beautiful church Agioi Anargyroi.
– Visit the village of Megalochori. It’s on the Northern side of the island and has traditional architecture, a sandy beach and a small port where fishing boats moor.
– Spend the day soaking up the sun at Dragonera beach on the West side of the island. A pebbled beach with sun beds and umbrellas.
– Don’t miss Aponisos beach, crystal clean water surrounded by nature. There is also a traditional tavern open during spring and summer months, where you can enjoy the delightful view of the bay and its offshore inlets.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

READ MY FULL GREEK SAILING ADVENTURES HERE:
Rural Wanderings Around Perdika
From Perdika to Ermioni
Summer Sailing in Spetses
Holidaying in Hydra
The Ancient Island of Poros

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All images taken by myself and Justin Polkey

10 Reasons to Stay at the Silo Hotel in Cape Town

February 2, 2018

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…

 

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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.

 

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2.) LOCATION

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.

 

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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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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’.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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wearing:
Vintage yellow silk shirt
Redone Originals jeans via Net-a-Porter
Lucy Williams x Missoma mini gold fang necklace
Rotary watch

Comme des Garçons PLAY tee via Maison Mara
Rachel Comey flared denims via Matches Fashion 
Zara blazer
Converse high-tops
Celine handbag
Celine sunglasses

H&M white shirt
Country Road red shorts
Trenery sandals

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.

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