Schoone Oordt Country House: Our full report
Schoone Oordt Country House is located in the historic town of Swellendam, at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains.A beautiful Victorian house dating back to 1853, it is a convenient halfway stop between Cape Town and the Garden Route. The house is set in landscaped gardens and has been lovingly restored by its current owners as an upmarket guesthouse.
We believe that Schoone Oordt was once used as the first girl's school in Swellendam. Over the years it has had a few owners, each adding or changing aspects of the house. In 1983, the property was declared a national monument and in 2003 it was bought by Richard and Alison Walker who, after almost five years of restoration, have given it a new lease of life.
The main house is a beautiful imposing double-storey Victorian building. Both the upper and lower verandas at the front have intricate filigree wrought-iron work, known locally as ‘broekie lace (translated as ‘knicker lace’!). Inside the manor house, the original wooden floors, doors and staircase, along with other features, have been restored, and can be seen throughout. This includes the comfortable lounge and bar, with sofas, chairs and restored antique furniture, which has the original beamed ceiling as well as an open fireplace.
To the side of the house is a lovely light and spacious conservatory restaurant overlooking the garden, with large windows that open up on a warm day. This is where breakfast is served, as well as afternoon tea and cakes, and dinner on request. Antique furniture sits alongside separate tables and chairs for dining, and plants add to the feel of a conservatory.
Outside, Schoone Oordt has a saltwater swimming pool in well-kept gardens, which lead down to a river. There are also two friendly dogs.
The ten rooms at Schoone Oordt are set in a pretty courtyard garden, with white roses and a couple of fountains. There are standard and ‘deluxe’ rooms, as well as a honeymoon suite and a family cottage. Each room has air conditioning, underfloor heating, a fireplace, a minibar with fresh milk and complimentary bottled water (with other drinks on request), tea/coffee facilities, satellite TV and a DVD player. The en-suite bathroom has a roll-top bath, twin basins and a separate shower. Extra touches include fluffy towels and dressing gowns, slippers and complimentary toiletries.
- Two standard rooms are located above the deluxe rooms and are accessed from the back. Both have a balcony overlooking the courtyard below. These rooms can be interleading, so make an affordable option for a family or friends travelling together, but they can also be used independently.
- The six deluxe rooms, on the ground floor, are identical in style: spacious and quite modern, yet with touches that help to retain the Victorian feel of the original manor house next door. They are decorated in soft colours that offset their beautifully restored antique furniture. These suites are positioned around the rose garden and landscaped shrubbery and have their own private patios.
- The honeymoon suite has a private and very romantic feel. Set slightly apart from the other accommodation, it overlooks a small shady forest with the Koornlands River flowing nearby. It is much larger than the rooms, with a dark wood four-poster bed, dark antique furniture softened by cream and white linens and fabrics, a woodburning stove and a large bathroom.
- The family cottage is set in the garden, away from the rest of the rooms. A restored coach house, it has an upstairs loft area with two extended-length single beds for children and a main bedroom with an extended length king-size bed, as well as a small kitchenette.
Schoone Oordt Country House is a beautifully restored guesthouse with friendly staff, an inviting atmosphere and good-quality accommodation. It offers a convenient base to explore Swellendam and the surrounding area.
South Africa expert
- Swellendam, South Africa
- Ideal length of stay
- Two nights is ideal to explore Swellendam and the surrounding area.
- From the N2 take the Swellendam East turn-off. Drive downhill, across the three-way stop. Just after the Koornlands River Bridge, turn right just before the grass verge with ‘Swellendam’ written on it in white brick. Schoone Oordt Country House is on the hill on your right.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- Food quality
- During our stay at Schoone Oordt in May 2014 we found the food to be very good.
Breakfast is a three-course meal, if you can manage it! After a buffet of cereals, fruit, fruit juice, yoghurt, freshly baked bread and muffins, our second course was either a pancake stack with strawberries, or eggs Benedict with either bacon or smoked salmon. The third course is a cooked breakfast of your choice. I ordered the eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, which was beautifully presented and very tasty, but I did not have the cooked breakfast afterwards! I remember the cappuccino being good, too.
Lunch is not served at Schoone Oordt as guests tend to be out exploring during the day, but afternoon tea and cakes are available in the conservatory.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- No drinks are included at Schoone Oordt except for bottled water in the rooms. There is a minibar in each room which can be stocked with drinks at R16 for soft drinks, R18 for local beers and R120 for a bottle of wine. (The rate of exchange at the time of writing was R17 to the UK pound.)
- Attitude towards children
- Schoone Oordt welcomes children of all ages.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is no age restriction.
- Special activities & services
- Children receive their own welcome pack on arrival and a kiddies' menu is available. A childminder can also be arranged at additional cost (although don't expect them to be qualified to European standards).
Schoone Oordt has a special family package – stay for three nights or longer and children receive hot chocolate and marshmallows at bedtime, while parents benefit from two hours complimentary babysitting on one of the evenings. Also included is a morning or afternoon guided activity of up to three hours to a local attraction.
- Cots and highchairs are available as well as childrens colouring books, DVDs and games.
- Generally recommended for children
- The owners have their own children so Schoone Oordt is very child-friendly. Children will love running around the garden and playing in the pool
- Adult supervision is needed around the pool, but parents can relax here as younger children can be entertained by staff in the kitchen, baking cookies for example.
- There are no direct-dial phones in the rooms, but the area has good cellphone reception. Free WiFi is available throughout the guesthouse and there is also a computer for guests to use.
- TV & radio
- All rooms are equipped with TVs with selected satellite channels as well as a DVD player.
- Water supply
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There are doctors and a hospital in Swellendam.
Quadbike warning: quad-biking is sometimes available as an activity in this area. As with any potentially dangerous activity, it’s vital that you take responsibility for ensuring that you have adequate travel insurance prior to getting involved. Be aware that some insurances cover quad-bike activities only for bikes with lower engine ratings: check such clauses particularly carefully before you get on a bike.
- Dangerous animals
- Low Risk
- Security measures
- There are, security gates leading to the property and the managers live on site. There are alarms in all the rooms and sensor lights around the property.
- Fire safety
- Each room has a fire extinguisher and these are also strategically placed around the buildings.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- Laundry is available at an extra charge.
- At the time of our visit in May 2014 electronic safes were about to be installed in the rooms. No currency exchange is possible, but there are many banks and ATMs in Swellendam.
- Accepted payment on location
- All major credit cards are accepted as well as cash in SA rands.
Other lodges in Swellendam
Alternative places to stay in this same area.
Rothman Manor lies in the heart of Swellendam and offers stylish, arty accommodation in tranquil park-like surroundings.
Bontebok National Park
Part of the Cape Floral Kingdom protected area, Bontebok is South Africa's smallest National Park and home to around 200 bontebok as well as many other bird and mammal species.
The Hideaway Guest House is a delightful little owner-run guesthouse in the historic town of Swellendam.