A splendid stay at Southern Sun de Wagen in Stellenbosch

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THIS past weekend I popped over to Stellenbosch to see what Garden Town is all about. You can read my story here. The nice people at Visit Stellenbosch arranged for me to spend the night at Southern Sun de Wagen. It’s just off Dorp Street at the R44 end, or what I would call the top end (the bottom of Dorp Street being Drostdy, where the church is), along a leafy avenue which crosses the Eerste Rivier.

A collection of historic farmstead buildings dating back to the early 1900s have been restored and re-imagined to create a unique and charming boutique hotel. All accommodation is on ground level. In the main building, I supposed you’d call it, is the reception area, pool area, and lounge with an honesty bar. There is no kitchen but meals can be taken at Volkskombuis next door, which is also where breakfast is served.

There were many things I liked, enjoyed and admired here. Like the silence in the room. There are two busy roads mere metres away but inside it’s quiet. What sorcery? It’s the magic of double glazing. You don’t even hear the crickets singing until you step outside. Plus, the in-room air conditioning is noiseless, as is the fridge. Together with blackout curtains, and the best king size feather pillows I’ve encountered since Graceland in Phuket in 2006, this all contributed to a fine night’s sleep. Oh, and no extra under-sheet which I always have to rip off so as not to become entangled in the midnight hour.

Further points are awarded for the giant magnifying mirror which has now made me anxious my paltry 10x one at home has me going out with badly applied makeup. This might sound like a small thing, but there are several wastepaper bins so you don’t need to traipse around looking for somewhere to dispose of your tissue.

Instead of the ubiquitous fruit bowl, there was a platter with cheese, biscuits, and walnut and fig preserve. That didn’t last long. I heartily approved of the complimentary bottle of wine, not because it was free but because it was Le Pommier Cab Franc Malbec, a personal favourite which went down a treat once I’d chilled it slightly.

At the tea and coffee station, my first reaction was “Oh yay! Proper mugs!” Honestly, I am so over tiny teacups, and making two doesn’t solve the problem because the second one goes cold, unless you’re going to make one after another after another and there’s no relaxation in that which defeats the purpose of a cup of tea. My second thought, upon turning the mug upside down, was “Ooh, Mervyn Gers handmade ceramics…nice. Very nice.” All the plates, jugs and so on are from Mervyn.

I liked the bathroom decor a lot. The rug on the floor is something different, although towelling bathmats were available too. The tub is of a size in which I could prop myself comfortably without sliding down, dunking myself with my feet in the air in a most undignified manner. Apologies for any disturbing mental images, but the struggle is real. There is a non-slip mat in the shower, which is a thoughtful touch. Amenities include Charlotte Rhys foam bath, salts, vanity and nail kits, soaps, shampoo and body lotion.

The lighting is great, from the illumination around the mirror (overhead lighting is impossible for applying makeup, worse even than trying to photograph food in a restaurant) to the geometric-shaped ceiling light which doesn’t go off entirely but remains dim for night use. The water pressure is strong, and best of all, it heats up fast so you don’t stand there wondering if the hot water will ever come while processing the trauma of wasting while waiting.

I’m always grateful for a fluffy bath sheet, and even more so when the heated rail is within easy reach of both the shower and the bath. What’s the point of having a warm towel when you have to drip across the room to get to it? The only thing I wanted that wasn’t there – and this is a universal problem – is a towel sized between hand and sheet, for my hair.

The hotel is literally 500m from where the restaurants in Dorp Street begin, and it’s a very pleasant stroll. I took myself to a burger joint but since I won’t say anything if I don’t have anything nice to say, we’ll leave it at that. The Wi-Fi is excellent and I was able to settle down to watch series on my laptop. Last but not least, there is a delightful little nook with a chaise longue and a fireplace, perfect for reading. I’d be very happy to return to this in winter.

For more information, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©

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