Why book a hotel when you could make accommodation part of the adventure?
We’ve gathered some weird and wonderful stays to delight the whole family!
There are plenty of regular luxurious rooms and chalets that are a joy to stay in, but if you want to up the fun factor and enjoy some creative quirkiness on your next holiday, these six unique options are well worth exploring.
‘And now for something completely different…’ – Monty Python’s Flying Circus
The quirky vintage Airstream Trailer Suites at Old Mac Daddy, located in the Elgin Valley just outside Cape Town, are nothing like your granddad’s caravan. Every unit has been uniquely designed by some of Cape Town’s top artists and designers as a super-contemporary living space. Each Airstream is equipped with a bathroom, air-conditioning and heating, a mini-bar and a coffee station. There are also self-catering villas and glamping-style tented accommodation options.
Old Mac Daddy is part caravan park, part designer farm lodge and is packed with fun activities and adventures for the whole family. Ever wanted to walk on water? Get inside a giant ‘Zorbing ball’ and roll on out! You can also try your hand at archery, or enjoy higher-octane experiences like kayaking and mountain-biking. If you’re wanting to sit back and relax, do some catch-and-release fishing, enjoy wine-tasting or visit Zen Den, the on-site spa.
Wholesome, delicious food is provided at The Barn Restaurant, which serves fresh, free-range and organic (where possible) meals from 8am-10pm daily. It also serves famous ciders and wine from the Elgin region and has a fully stocked bar.
Situated on the edge of the Spektakelberg between Springbok and Kleinzee in the Northern Cape, Naries Namakwa Retreat is ideally positioned for exploring the region, from marvelling at the wild flowers to adventuring to the shipwrecks in the west. If you’re looking for a unique, nature-focused experience, its state-of-the-art, luxurious Mountain Suites are ideal. Perched atop the region’s dramatic mountains, the views are extraordinary, while the interiors of the suites reflect the natural rocky landscape. Each of the three en suite Mountain Suites has a patio to take in the majesty of the surroundings, a bar, a tea and coffee station, and comfortable furniture, with breakfast and dinner served at the Manor House Dining Room.
There are various activities nearby, which must be booked before your arrival through the independent providers, including the popular, guided 4×4 Shipwreck Tour along the Namaqualand Diamond Coast to see the Piratiny, Arosa and Border shipwrecks. You’ll enjoy beautiful sights along the way, including pristine beaches, historical sites and important archaeological sites from the late Stone Age. You can request a delicious picnic basket or lunch pack to enjoy during the tour.
Children under the age of 11 aren’t accommodated in the Mountain Suites.
The Santos Express Train Lodge, referred to simply as ‘The Train’ by locals, is just 30m from the ocean, nestled at the heart of the famed Garden Route in Mossel Bay. As the name suggests, the lodge is an actual train, with coaches and cabooses serving as sleeping and entertainment areas. The Santos Express has something for everyone, with double, single and budget compartments available, each with an impressive sea view. The train features regular braais and a cosy bar, as well as its speciality: delicious seafood.
Its most recent additions are two charming vintage coaches, the Royal Suites. These were built in 1919 and 1921 respectively and transported from England to service a luxury rail company in South Africa until they were decommissioned. The coaches are divided into four suites, each with a private viewing deck and various luxury en suite facilities, including a claw-footed bathtub. The coaches have been restored with careful attention to detail and authentic woodwork, creating an old-world atmosphere.
The five-star Turbine Boutique Hotel & Spa, situated on Thesen Islands in Knysna, is a dream for lovers of architecture, art and design. The restored power station structure informs the aesthetic and style of the hotel, with old machinery being magically transformed into quirky ‘industrial chic’ décor.
The hotel offers 17 standard rooms, six luxury rooms, a honeymoon suite and two self-contained suites adjacent to
The hotel’s eateries provide fabulous views – the Island Café overlooks the canal, while the Gastro Pub & Deck provides a wonderful spot to enjoy beautiful sunsets. Their menus are diverse and imaginative, with something for everyone.
The Turbine Spa is regarded as one of the best on the Garden Route, offering a wide variety of treatments to help you relax and recharge. For the more energetic, the Turbine Adventure Centre provides a host of fun activities, including kayaking, whale-watching, pontoon cruises and forest tours. For art aficionados, the hotel’s transformed some areas into an informal art gallery which exhibits works by local talents, as well as displays throughout the hotel in collaboration with the Knysna Fine Arts Gallery. All these works are available to purchase.
Live the fairytale
Eat, sleep and play like royalty at the Castle in Clarens, a fantastical experience that combines whimsy and luxury. You and your family will have the run of the entire castle, which is decorated in suitably grand style with objets d’art from around the world, including tapestries from Dubai and cornerstones from Windsor Castle. The most enchanting feature of the architecture is Rapunzel’s Tower, which sets the theme with its opulent sleeping quarters, en suite bathrooms and detailed luxurious finishes. The lower level contains the Princess Room, a lounge, kitchen, dining area and braai area, with plenty of places to settle down and enjoy the stunning mountain views. Kids will be spellbound by the garden, which is a replica of the famed garden from the Rapunzel fairytale – just watch out for the sorceress if you plan on pinching any goodies from the vegetable patch, lest you get trapped in the tower!
The castle is self-catering and sleeps two guests minimum and four maximum.
If you were told you were going to be sleeping in a cave, images of cavemen roughing it out with crude tools and trying to get a fire going might come to mind, but the Cave Suites at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve in the Western Cape are far removed from Palaeolithic-era accommodation. The front façade of each of the 10 suites is man-made, but skilfully crafted to blend beautifully into the environment, while the back interior walls are natural sandstone. The Cave Suites were designed with comfort in mind and are furnished with double beds, air-conditioning and en suite bathrooms. You’ll be able to experience the stunning natural rock formations up close and enjoy spectacular views
from your suite’s small terrace.
Starlight, star bright
If you’re planning a getaway for just you and your partner, Kagga Kamma also offers two new natural, open-air accommodation options during the summer months: the Star Suite and the Sky Suite. The Star Suite is located on a secluded rock platform about 3km from the Main Lodge to ensure privacy. The platform’s nestled between impressive rock formations, with stunning views of the fynbos plains. You’ll sleep under the stars, surrounded by nature, while enjoying comfortable amenities including a queen-sized bed, a natural rock pool, an outdoor shower and a star bath, where you can soak in the tub with nothing to obstruct your view of the breathtaking surrounds. The Sky Suite is equally private, situated in a rocky outcrop about 950m above sea level on one of the reserve’s highest peaks.
The suite’s unique offerings include a wood-fired hot tub, a boma braai area and furniture crafted from rock. Children aren’t permitted to stay in the open-air suites.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTOS: PROVIDED AND FOTOLIA.COM