ONCE again, I happily found myself in the Riebeek Valley, in the heart of the Swartland. The previous time I was there, it was spring, with the fruit trees blossoming pinkly, the canola fields cutting vivid swathes of bright yellow alongside streaks of emerald green; this visit the landscape was soft shades of gold, rolling over the hills and dramatically striking against the sky and sharply defined clouds…which on Sunday released a meagre spattering of rain: the first I’ve experienced in this region.
Over two days, I drove back and forth between Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, twin towns a mere five kilometres apart. After 18 months mostly in lockdown, I noticed some sad changes, favourite haunts gone forever, but at the same time new places forging ahead in hope. Reviews of new restaurants will follow; this is the story about where I stayed – Ruby Rose Country House, in Riebeek West.
It’s one road down from the main drag, fronted by a magnificent heritage-certified manor house built in the Victorian style, and painted deep lipstick red with white trim. “Magnificently restored, this lush oasis in one of the Cape’s favourite rural idylls just one hour’s drive from Cape Town. The enterprise is the creation of Clive Richardson and architect Gerd Weideman, designer of among others, the 2020 World Luxury Awards African boutique hotel winner O’Two in Mouille Point. Located in a 4 200m², tree-shrouded garden, the Ruby Rose is a beautifully appointed haven complete with all the modern conveniences for a perfect stay including air-conditioning and high-speed wifi.
“The main house’s lounge with its deep sofas and classic furniture, opens onto a large, shady terrace. Just beyond is the restaurant, with its adjoining swimming pool, and a three-room, self-catering cottage.”
An L-shaped block of rooms is beyond that, where I stayed in number 10. It’s a strange time for travel, without the foreign tourists, so in between bookings I happened to be the only one there for those two nights (busy before, busy after). It’s not the first time this has happened in the past six or eight months since I’ve been out there, back on the road, and to answer the FAQ, no it’s not weird (for me). When you’re inside your room you have no idea how many other guests there are anyway, and it’s actually nice and quiet around the pool or in the garden. It’s ideal peace for an introvert who wants to sip a glass of wine and read her book.
However, this is the time when we should be supporting the hospitality and restaurant industries as much as we can, and it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the beauty of our own country with road trips and even short breaks not too far from home. Riebeek is less than an hour from Cape Town, and now the roadworks on the N7 have been completed, the drive is a two-lane pleasure all the way.
“Ruby Rose has the facilities to host small conferences and events, be they corporate meetings with audio-visual requirements or milestone birthday parties; or, visitors simply looking for a refined ‘home base’ from which to explore the magical Swartland. The region is characterised by sprawling grainfields, olive groves, orchards and vineyards dotted with quaint farm villages, easily explorable on foot, by bicycle or car. Close at hand are the area’s best restaurants catering for diverse tastes.”
Says Richardson: “We’re especially popular for weddings and cater for these with among others a dedicated honeymoon suite, permanent chef and sufficient rooms for guests,” says Clive. “Whatever the occasion, we’ve found guests enjoy Ruby Rose because they can comfortably spend entire days here, lounging by the pool or reading under the olive trees if they so choose. They find there’s so much more here than just a room.”
He’s not wrong. I ate at three restaurants (one of them twice), tasted some superb Pinotage and Chenin Blanc bubblies (more about that on Daily Maverick this Friday), met amazing new people with fabulous stories, caught up with old friends I’ve known for – oh my word – decades, and at the recommendation of locals, visited the gorgeous Riebeek Valley Garden Centre where the owner Corné selected two succulents for my specific needs. And read my book of course – bliss.
Ruby Rose Country House offers a range of rooms and suites, also catering for families; and safe, on-site parking. Find it at 12 Sending Street, Riebeek West. Bookings can be made directly on the website, which also provides more information. Alternatively, contact Ruby Rose on email [email protected] or [email protected], or call 082 929 9877. Stay in touch by following Ruby Rose Country House on Facebook at @rubyrosecountryhouse and Instagram via @ruby_rose404.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©
- Quotes taken from press release