We hopped into our Toyota and joined the Friday afternoon traffic on our way from Cape Town to Montagu, taking in the magnificent mountain scenery on the way (more about that in another post).
The Montagu Country Hotel is situated at 27 Bath Street, in the middle of the historic centre of Montagu. It is surrounded by the mountain range which forms the start of the Klein Karoo, which facilitates fantastic year-round weather and crisp clear air.
As one enters the hotel you can immediately sense this place has some history too it - a grand building harking from another era, but containing all the modern plush comforts we have come to take for granted.
There were no queues at check-in and John quickly organised our key and we were led to our room 33.
The breakfast room had a museumy feel to it with photos on the walls from times gone by, and adjacent to it being a room with a piano, a fire burning and people relaxing on the couches reading their newspapers.
As we entered our room the first thought I had was how spacious it was, not just length and breadth, but also how high the ceiling was. It was built without concern for conserving space, and its high ceiling is filled with patterns, as was the style a hundred years ago. Our 4-year-old was filled with delight when she said "Look, a rocking chair". The furniture was wooden as was the floor, with some antique yellow-wood pieces and there were a couple of paintings of local interest on the walls. From the ceiling hung a lamp and a fan - to cool one down in the summer there's also air conditioning (which was free, unlike the hotel which charged for aircon when were at in Naples, Italy). And the view from our room was not bad at all :)
There was a bath and shower en-suite, the water pressure was good, and you didn't get a scalding when the toilet was flushed (our baby checked this for us whilst we were showering!). The room is best described as luxurious with a touch of rustic. I liked it a lot! Here's a photo of the beautifully adorned hallway outside our room.
Gert bought the Montagu Country Hotel a decade ago, and has spent his time restoring it to its former splendour. He used to run a hotel in Stellenbosch, so he has the experience. Gert's an avid collector of historical pieces, and these are tastefully spread out in different parts of the hotel. Every room tells a story. He has also restored the garden, which is magnificently adorned with carefully chosen plants, places to sit, plants and flowers.
The hotel is jam-packed with comfortable lounges, the largest of which is the Dog & Trumpet smoking lounge. I'm not a night-owl, so didn't see it in action, but I can picture this place rocking in the evenings, the piano playing and the drinks & conversation flowing.
And if you're looking for something a bit more quiet and intimate, there's this lounge sandwiched into between the Dog & Trumpet and the hotel reception. Notice the artifacts and interesting paintings on the walls - this place has soul!
There were a couple of bikers who spent the weekend at the hotel. Montagu is a favourite for bikers because of the lovely scenery on the drive, and many choose to stay at the Montagu Country because of its large secure parking garage.
Even though we visited in winter, the weather was sunny, lovely Karoo winter weather. I prefer winter to visiting in December, when Montagu can get crowded. The Montagu Country Hotel is positioned in the middle of the town, and it is well worth it to walk the streets outside the hotel, viewing the historic buildings. On the Saturday whilst we were there there was a morning market on the go, a couple of blocks away.
We of course visited the hot springs, and my daughter and I climbed to the caves above the springs - the climbing isn't without its risks, but the views were superb. The hot springs have a putt-putt course, supertube, special slides for the little ones and about 5 pools and 2 jacuzzis. A visit to Montagu isn't complete without enjoying the springs. And during winter it's especially delicious to get out of the crisp air and into the warm water.
Nothing ages an article quite like putting the prices in when you were there, but there was wireless internet at the hotel and it cost R55 for 200 meg and R35 for 100 meg (August 2011).
At the spa facilities at the hotel you could get anything from a Swedish Massage to a pedicure. We spent some time on the balcony on the top left, relaxing and staring at the mountains. Our infant tested the balcony too, and he couldn't find a way to jump off!
As we got onto the N1 in Cape Town, my GPS told me there was 100k to go before the turnoff at Worcester. On the N1 we passed Plattekloof, Bellville, Durbanville. Instead of taking the tollgate through Dutoitskloof tunnel, we went over Dutoitskloof pass, enjoying the majestic views from above. After Worcester we passed under a rainbow. We passed Robertson and Ashton, then shortly after entering Montagu we turned left into Barry Street, right into Bath Street and stopped at a building which said "Montagu Hotel" on it. I asked a couple of fellows whether this was indeed the Montagu Country Hotel, they confirmed it was and said "Welcome to the best town in South Africa"! Modest people these Montaguans!
Like the house, the garden is filled with places of interest, comfy seats and people were braaing in the garden on Saturday evening (in August!). Here's the bird pool with one of the human pools in the background.
The Montagu Hotel punches far above what I expected - it is the authentic Montagu experience - give me this anyday, over the modern sanitised hotel experience. Above all the staff are friendly salt of the earth people. I definitely want to visit again, and highly recommend it to anybody thinking of visiting Montagu.
Mongatu Country Hotel
27 Bath Street
Tel : 023-614-3125
Author: Rob Baker