Presenting Augusta de Mist of Swellendam

Halfway between Cape Town and Knysna, there is a republic of villages and towns – Swellendam, Suurbraak, Barrydale, Buffeljachts, Stormsvlei, Malagas and Cape Infanta.  Motorists passing through only slow down to avoid the malevolent constable and his radar perched behind a cluster of Blue Gums on the N2.

But Swellendam is worth exploring – carrying a heavy historical burden of Dutch rule and Calvinist architecture, it looks conservative.  Scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a lively community of artists and creatives who simultaneously subvert and celebrate tradition and culture.  You’ll find a leading ceramic artist,  a chocolate master, a manufacturer of exportable bath products, a Rasta and  gourmet restauranteur, all within spitting distance of the Drosty Museum.

In the heart of the village, lies Augusta de Mist – an 1802 Cape Dutch homestead and guesthouse, whose eclectic modern decor juxtaposed against collectible art and antiques, epitomises the paradoxical nature of the place.

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The interiors are vibrant and artistic, reflecting the personalities of the owners and referencing contemporary African style.

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Staying there is lesson in luxury – Owners Henk and Michel laid on coffee and fresh baked cake as I arrived and their generous hospitality didn’t stop. The bedrooms  are decorated  with a wonderful quirky style and  attention to detail includes everything from quality linen to rusks, books  and an excellent selection of music and arthouse DVDs.

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It’s so comfortable you might not want to leave your room, but venture into the garden which is huge and rambling. You’ll find secret corners, indigenous plants and birds and a private pool area that  will soon have you reclining with a martini.

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Henk doesn’t cook every night,  so you may have to eat in the village at one of the local restaurants – I recommend de Companjie or FIeld and Fork.  If Henk cooks you are in for a treat!

Swellendam is a great stopover, but slow down on your next trip and stay a couple of  nights. If you are energetic use it as a base to explore all the local reserves, watch whales at Cape Agulhas, or hike and bike in the Marlmoth and Bontebok reserves.

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To book at Augusta de Mist visit www.perfecthideaways.co.za

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