* This article originally appeared here on Traveller24.
Gabriel, the farm manager, stops midway on our tour of the farm when he sees my overwhelmed expression. A smile flashes across his face, followed by a simple “welcome to our home”. As you walk out of the farmhouse you are gifted with the vista before you, and you’ll quickly realise this is a home you won’t want to leave.
A few kilometres from the centre of Franschhoek you take the Wemmershoek road, and soon turn off the tar. A scenic drive takes you slowly up the mountain until you arrive at 7Koppies, cosily tucked away in the mountainous wilderness. Owners Marc and James remark ‘We never expected our dream home would look like this but even now, when we arrive at the farm and look at the spectacular views we experience a sense of awe.’
The farm gets its name from the seven koppies or small hills that surround it. These hills cradle the farm creating a natural border, with the space between filled with fragrant fynbos. Remember you’re in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the presence of the prolifically diverse flora. Be sure to look out for the fan aloes which decorate the koppies – a unique species native to the Franschhoek area.
The farmhouse is distinctly homely, but with modern brushes subtly colouring both décor and design. As you walk out of the Provence-styled kitchen, you cross a manicured lawn leading to the pool, and after that you gaze over kilometers of winelands. All of the outside spaces are effortless and stylish extensions of the natural space that surrounds the farmhouse.
The architecture is impressive but it’s the scenery that gets the last word, and you’re guaranteed to have your breath taken away every time you step out. My stay began with a warm autumnal day sporting sterling blue skies. Thankfully the pool was warm enough to enjoy at sunset as I couldn’t fight the temptation to take in a few lengths of its 25-meters. The following day the weather turned and the moody skies with intermittent drizzle meant I cozied away the time in front of one of the numerous fireplaces.
My accommodation was the Valley Suite – the most exclusive of the five – with its own courtyard, outdoor shower and steam room. The suites all together cater for a maximum of eleven people, and coupled with the number of common spaces, even at capacity 7Koppies would never feel crowded.
Strong efforts have been made to ensure every element of 7Koppies is eco-friendly – from the organic linen, to the sustainably made crockery. Energy has also been given to restore the fynbos. It’s still early days for 7Koppies but the team is bursting with ideas for the property and what its hospitality offers. Some exciting expansion plans are afoot which will complement the current spaces and also offer a few more suites, but without distracting from the peace of the place.
An ethereal and luxurious farm experience now has a name: 7Koppies. Gabriel tells me confidently that most guests share my complete awe at the property, thinking that they’ve ‘paid for a room but have now got a villa’. Now that’s an upgrade I’ll say yes to.
Resting in the fynobs-frosted hills above Stanford awaits a farm and accommodation retreat that has won the hearts of its visitors while it graced the pages of glossy magazines. Within seconds of seeing HaesFarm for the first time, owners Harry and Steyn knew that it was it be theirs. The view from this magnificent property is enough to make you to also want to leave the city and make this spectacular part of the Western Cape your home. Of course, if that’s not possible, there’s a special farm-stay waiting to make you feel at home.
The view from the Haesfarm perfectly frames the dreamy Overberg landscape and on exceptionally clear days even Cape Point can be seen tens of kilometers away. During the day the clouds make their slow pilgrimage across the sky throwing a patchwork of shadowy patterns across the landscape below; to your right a string of mountains ranges fades into the distance standing boldly as sentries guarding the coastline to the left. The true magic happens when the diffused dusk light comes out to play and the fynbos takes centre stage, glowing in the last golden rays.
Harry comments that coming from Holland, a surprisingly young land having been reclaimed from the ocean, and then moving to place where the surrounding mountains are 100 million years old and boast rock art around 30000 years old… ‘This is something that continues to completely blow my mind.’
At Haesfarm you’re welcomed as a guest, but then waved goodbye as a friend. It’s these intimate moments when hospitality extends beyond a bed and a meal, that transform a stay into an experience. Harry and Steyn reside in a separate part of the home, so while always close at hand, you have all the privacy you need during your stay.
The farmhouse itself is a thoughtfully designed building that doubles effortlessly as a private art gallery, featuring over 140 pieces of art and countless pieces of furniture that have been handpicked from the owners’ travels around the world. Two plush suites are on offer; one with mountain views and the other valley views. A beautiful lounge makes up the voluminous central area of the home, spilling out onto the veranda with unbridled views, which serves as thedining area.
Food is a central part of their lives and you’ll see that expressed through the marvelous breakfasts that are included in your stay. Their love for food and hospitality also extends to the ad-hoc events they put on at HaesFarm – from celebrity chefs to themed dinners.
South African citizens will be delighted by the local’s 15% discount applicable from May – September, with rates starting from R870pp sharing. The home can also be hired for small functions and weddings. Bear in mind also that the farm closes for the winter months, so be sure to make your booking well in advance.
3. Dunstone Country Estate
With the Western Cape being well endowed with a wonderland of wineries, my third stay had to be somewhere embraced by vines. After having wanted to visit Dunstone Country Estate for some time, I took the opportunity to wind my way over to Wellington for the third farm stay. It’s only a one-hour drive from Cape Town, but in the presence of the country setting I quickly forgot all sense of the city.
Abbi and Lee are the husband and wife duo behind Dunstone. Originally citizens of the UK, they fell in love with South Africa and decided on Wellington as their new home. They now find that many of their guests share a similar love for the region: ‘A lot of people come here for the same reason we’re here: It’s natural, it’s real, and it’s down-to-earth. You get to meet the people who run it and live it.’
It’s true. There’s little greater satisfaction than sitting on the veranda drinking wine which you know comes from the very vines that surround you, and whether it’s a tutored tasting in the cellar or casual sundowner on the stoep, the Dunstone wines are bound to impress you.
The farm is in every sense a boutique winery producing just over 40 tonnes of fruit annually. As a result a lot of love and attention goes into their 6 hectares under vine. Their unwooded Viognier offering is worth trying and is both fragrant and light. The Shiraz is a serious showstopper – bold but with a beautiful balance between spice and fruit.
There is a variety of sleeping options for visitors. The first option is one of their four-star B&B suites. For a little more privacy two self-catering cottages are available, and for a completely private and deluxe affair the five-star, six-sleeper Manor House should be your choice. My option was the Vine suite – a secluded free-standing suite that featured a fireplace, private patio with jacuzzi hot-tub and a garden overlooking the vineyards and mountains.
The Stone Kitchen is the on-site restaurant and serves a variety of hearty country dining options. You’ll join the locals who also love the spot at this family-friendly eatery. The restaurant is separate from the accommodation and is reached by a short and charming stroll through the farm. I loved some of the special guest experiences that subtly enhance your stay, including the afternoon tea and cake served in the lounge, and a little later sundowners and nibbles on the veranda.
Look out for their famous winter specials. Stays range from R700 self-catering and R850 B&B per person per night and include a daily R200 meal voucher that can be spent on lunch/dinner at The Stone Kitchen during your stay.