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Waterblom Cottage: Stanford

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The views from Waterblom Cottage at Stanford Valley Country Lodge
The views from Waterblom Cottage at Stanford Valley Country Lodge

Petra and I have been touring the Overberg region (the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic oceans) and the Whale route for years. Yet, we have always passed the town of Stanford without taking the time to explore this charming historic town. Stanford lies a bit inland of Gansbaai and about 20 km east of Hermanus. 

Hermanus is at the heart of the Whale Coastal Route, and thus, travellers don’t explore lesser-known gems like the nearby Stanford.

Interestingly, UNESCO awarded Overstrand the first African City of Gastronomy. Gastronomy refers to the art or practice of choosing, cooking, and eating good food.

When the Lifetree Collection invited us to visit Waterblom Cottage in Stanford, we were super excited. We had been waiting for an opportunity to ‘connect to country life’ as Stanford’s slogan suggests and explore this magnificent part of South Africa. Stanford is a countryside village on the edge of the Klein River en route to Gansbaai, which is known as Great White Shark country.

What is the Lifetree Collection?

Lifetree Collection is a boutique booking site that features a world-class collection of extraordinary stays in South Africa. Their slogan, ‘Where adventure meets authenticity,’ is your clue to their fabulous portfolio. We enjoy booking our stays with Lifetree Collection as they curate extraordinary accommodations, typically unique villas, cabins, and cottages, in exceptional (often secluded) locations in South Africa.

Click here to view their exclusive portfolio, which includes romantic getaways, pet-friendly travel, locations ideal for remote workers, and several low-impact properties or off-the-grid accommodations. There is bound to be something that will entice you to visit this remarkable country.

What is the Whale Route, and where does it start?

The Whale Route stretches over approximately 559 kilometres, with many side roads off the beaten track. It has some of the best whale viewing spots in South Africa. It starts over the mountain from Cape Town with the picturesque R44, known as Clarence Drive, through the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. To be a more exact, the route starts from Rooi Els (just past Gordon’s Bay) to Quoin Point. The most famous town along the route is Hermanus, yet lesser-known towns like Gansbaai, Kleinmond and Stanford are often skipped. 

Did you know Hermanus is recognised as one of the twelve best whale viewing sites in the world?

Travelbuddieslifestyle at Hermanus sea side views
Views of the ocean from the Marine Hotel at Hermanus

When is the best time to tour the Whale Route?

To catch a glimpse of the Southern Right or Humpback whales, the best time to tour the Whale route is from June to November, although the peak is from mid-August to mid-October. Interestingly, the calving season is in August. Whale sightings are common along the Garden Route. Click here to read more about our Garden Route Trip.

The second best thing to the Whale Route must be Stanford. The small town village has long been known for quaint antique shops selling vintage collectables, signature restaurants like La Trattoria (where we enjoyed an unforgettable dinner), and small boutiques with names like Journey (where Petra and I shopped up a storm). Treat yourself and stroll, not drive, down Queen Victoria Street (the main road) and discover many hidden gems along the way. 

Visit www.stanfordinfo.co.za for more information about Stanford.

Where is Stanford Valley Country Lodge?

Stanford Valley Country Lodge is in the Klein River Valley. A scenic drive 90-minute drive from Cape Town brings you to the heart of the Fynbos countryside with sweeping mountain vistas. 

As we drove up Stanford Valley Lodge’s driveway with white-washed horse fences, we immediately noticed the charming white-washed Farm-style cottages that adorn the 440-hectare landscape. The lodge is situated about 10 km from the centre of Standford.

The Suites and Cottages on the estate
The country-style Suites and Cottages on the estate

How many cottages or rooms does the lodge have?

  • Stanford Valley Country Lodge is a working wine farm with 24 rooms, of which five are self-catering cottages and ten are beautifully appointed suites. 

  • The cottages have distinctive names, such as Fynbos numbers 1 to 6 and Sagewood 1 to 4 (all accommodating two adults). Milkwood number 1 and Erica are smaller self-catering units accommodating two adults. Stables, Protea and Pincushion-Bluebell are well-appointed self-catering family cottages (accommodating 4 to 5 adults). The suites are located in two terraced blocks: Fynbos overlooking forests and mountains and Sagewood overlooking the beautiful countryside of the estate.

  • The proximity of the rooms makes the venue ideal for a celebration with friends and family, no matter the occasion.

  • The jewel in the crown of Stanford Valley Country Lodge is, however, Waterblom Cottage, where we stayed during our visit in mid-March. From the moment we stepped into the cottage, it felt as if we entered a living art studio due to the many world-class paintings on the wall and unimaginable views of the dam teeming with bright water lilies.

The Family cottages
The Family cottages
The magnificent pool area with bar facilities
The magnificent pool area with private bar facilities overlooking the estate's vineyards
The art gallery on the estate with exceptionally beautiful paintings and sculptures
The art gallery on the estate with exceptionally beautiful paintings and sculptures

Stanford Valley Country Lodge’s best features

The communal areas combine masterfully selected mid-century furniture with exquisite furnishings and lighting to enhance the farm-style elegant vibe. The warm demeanour of the local staff provides for an unforgettable South African cultural experience that is guaranteed to make you fall in love with South Africa and its people.

The lodge has a beautifully fenced-off pool set in a secluded part of the estate near the vineyards. Here, guests can enjoy a pool party in style, with the many luxury pool loungers, shaded pergolas, a fridge, and a bar area.

There is a large arena with beautiful horses to adorn the picturesque country estate, and several dams and art pieces are scattered in the gardens. For art lovers, there is a stunning small art gallery with some of the most beautiful contemporary artworks.

Good to know: Hotel guests are welcome to bring their own food and drinks to the premises. There are several places where guests can enjoy a ‘braai,’ as South Africans refer to a barbeque. For example, besides the pool and the dam (not the small water lily dam of Waterblom), there is also a purpose-built entertainment area for guests with a fully equipped kitchen, lounge with ample seating area, and covered braai area.

If you don’t enjoy preparing your meals, there is the Manor House Restaurant. Regrettably, the restaurant was closed during our visit. It is only open from Wednesday to Sunday. Weekends are particularly festive! Hotel guests and staff told us how this restaurant is an oasis for locals and a welcoming cultural experience for foreigners.

The private entertainment for guest
The private (free) entertainment area available to guests where they can arrange a private get-together with other staying-in guests
The picturesque dam on the estate where guests and swim or enjoy a picnic
The picturesque dam on the estate where guests and swim or enjoy a picnic

Why stay at Waterblom Cottage Stanford

As we entered our home for the next two days, we were swept away by the beauty of our idyllic white-washed farm-style cottage built on the edge of a picturesque dam (we call it a big pond). We were immediately drawn to the sea of bright purple water lilies awaiting us through the expansive glass doorway, just as we envisioned from the many photographs available online of the cottage.

During our stay, you will notice how the water lilies open and close according to their exposure to sunlight.

Besides the magnificent view over the small dam, you also have extraordinary views over the majestic Kleinrivier mountain range and Fynbos-covered hills. Baboons were often playing on the far end of the water lily dam and entertained us for hours until the farmers came to case them away as the ‘steel’ the grapes from the vineyards.

The cottage has a massive wooden deck from which you can laze in the sun, read a book or catch up on some work against the most dramatic backdrop. The Wi-Fi is excellent, and therefore, it makes it easy to combine work and pleasure. There is also a dining table inside with sufficient power points to power all your work tools.

The open-plan kitchen is equipped with everything you may need to prepare a hearty meal in this secluded setting. From a luxury coffee machine (that grinds the beans) to a conventional oven, microwave, large fridge, and unlimited pots, pans, cutlery and crockery. The kitchen flows seamlessly into the other entertainment spaces of the cottage.

The bedrooms ooze tranquillity and relaxation. The main bedroom has an open-plan bathroom that opens up to the wooden deck overlooking the waterlily dam. There is certainly no better view to enjoy your morning coffee in bed.

The second bedroom boasts a classy tule canopy above the bed, and it also has an open-plan bathroom with a shower and single vanity. Each room has a separate toilet. The beauty of the cottage lies in its seamless blend with its natural surroundings.

We loved interacting with the cute donkeys in their enclosure just outside our front door. Guests are allowed to feed the donkeys appropriate vegetables.

And now for the best part of the cottage. Your fire-heated plunge pool or, should we say, hot tub on the edge of the lily dam. Every late afternoon, a friendly staff member arrived at our cottage and started preparing our hot tub. We couldn’t get enough of the spectacular views from here. Even though it was a bit windy on our second night, we still enjoyed sitting in the warm tub and enjoying a glass of wine against the exceptional backdrop.

The wood-burning fireplace in the lounge of the cottage
The wood-burning fireplace in the lounge of the cottage
Even the stepladder leading to the loft bedroom in Waterblom Cottage enhances the interior
Even then stepladder leading to the loft bedroom in Waterblom Cottage enhances the interior
Atwell Msika giving us a personalised wine tasting experience
Atwell Msika giving us a personalised wine tasting experience in the main restaurant on the estate
Bernie catching up on some work against the most amazing backdrop
Bernie catching up on some work against the most amazing backdrop
The interior of the main building giving a sense of old world charm
The interior of the main building giving a sense of old world charm
Bernie enjoying the magnificent views from the garden seating area at Waterblom Cottage
Bernie enjoying the magnificent views from the garden seating area at Waterblom Cottage
Petra enjoying the private hut tub late afternoon
Petra enjoying the private hut tub late afternoon
The views of Waterblom Cottage from the garden seating area
The views of Waterblom Cottage from the garden seating area
The signage on the estate showing the ways to the different cottages and suits
The signage on the estate showing the ways to the different cottages and suits
One of the friendly staff members preparing our hot tub
One of the friendly staff members preparing our hot tub
Petra basking in the African sun from the rope terrace at Waterblom Cottage
Petra basking in the African sun from the rope terrace at Waterblom Cottage

What makes Waterblom Cottage in Stanford unique?

  • We love the secludedness of the cottage and the well-appointed kitchen and ‘braai’ area. We felt like royalty in our private cottage with not a person in sight. The location is truly magnificent. Walls are adorned with local art, and large floor-to-ceiling fold-away doors frame the picturesque outdoors. Here, you can truly experience the sounds of countryside serenity.

  • We enjoyed being able to venture out to Stanford for shopping and dinner, which is within easy reach.

  • Avid photographers and nature lovers will enjoy capturing exceptional landscapes, from mountain scenery to vineyards and authentic countryside vistas.

  • The lodge promotes sustainable tourism, as it relies entirely on a solar system and uses recycled and natural materials where possible.

What are the best features of Waterblom Cottage?

The beautiful horses on the estate
The beautiful horses on the estate

What activities and experiences are on offer on the estate?

When is the best time to visit Stanford ?

The lodge can be enjoyed all year round as they cater for all kinds of weather. The activities might be different depending on the weather. For example, in summer, there is a relaxing pool and dam days, while in the winter, guests can enjoy cosy fireplaces and hearty South African meals.

Bernie taking advantage of the many landscape photo opportunities
Bernie taking advantage of the many landscape photo opportunities

How do you get to Stanford Valley Lodge?

Stanford Valley Lodge is an easy two-hour (150 km) drive from Cape Town. From Cape Town, take the N2, and from Caledon, take the R316. Alternatively, you can also take the more scenic route on Clarence Drive. Start in Cape Town, follow the N2 to Summerset West, then take the R44. The R44 is also known as Clarence Drive, a very scenic coastal road past Rooi-els, Pringle Bay, Bettys’s Bay (stop to visit the Penguin colony if time permits), and Kleinmond. After Kleinmond (near Arabella Country Estate), turn onto the R43 towards Hermanus, and then you will reach Stanford.

How to make a booking at Waterblom Cottage?

Contact details: 072 198 0862

Email: info@stanfordvalley.co.za

Visit their website for bookings and more information.

Unlock exclusive benefits by mentioning Travel Buddies Lifestyle when booking and enjoy a special offer! As a token of our appreciation, you’ll receive a complimentary bottle of the Estates Chenin or Shiraz upon your arrival.

What to do in Stanford?

Stanford is a small village located in the picturesque Overberg. It is the ideal base to start a road trip along the Whale Route.

We enjoyed walking the streets of Stanford to admire its historical cape-dutch houses and experience the country-style restaurants offering traditional cooking and exquisite gourmet meals. We enjoy a very special Italian meal at La Trattoria on Queen Victoria Street in a magnificent setting. Visit our Instagram page for more visuals of our dinner at La La Trattoria restaurant. There are several quaint coffee shops serving the freshly-baked delicacies.

Stanford is known not only for hosting exciting events but also for its magnificent Fynbos trails, bird watching, horse riding, river cruises, mountain biking, and wellness retreats. 

Our highlight was exploring the traditional shops and boutiques. A must-visit boutique is Journey. You don’t need a big imagination to understand why Petra and I loved it.

Visit Stanford’s website for the latest events, accommodation, and activities in the area.

Conclusion

There are many hidden gems like Stanford in South Africa waiting for you to be explored. Travellers to South Africa often miss out on these gems because they are too focussed on ticking off their bucket list item such as the Boulder’s Beach penquins, Hiking Table Mountain or Lions Head, or going on the wine trams at Franschoek, etc. Follow the roads less travelled and get an unexpected surprise around every corner.

Your Travel Buddies, Bernie and Petra

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About Author

As a freelance travel journalist and seasoned business professional, Bernie van der Linde has made it her mission to explore the world's most unique and luxurious destinations. With a PhD in business studies from the University of South Africa, Bernie has channeled her passion for travel, web design, and writing into founding the travel blog Travel Buddies Lifestyle. Here, she shares her adventures alongside her best friend and travel business partner, Petra, who seamlessly translate and compile articles relevant to their German and European audience.

Bernie's love for exploring new places has taken her to some of the world's most exotic locations. Whether gazing out at the glittering skyline of Dubai or enjoying the tranquillity of a private beach in Mauritius, Bernie is always looking for unique experiences that will inspire and entice her readers to travel.

Through her thoughtful writing and unparalleled passion for travel, Bernie van der Linde has made a name for herself in the world of travel writing. Her knack for uncovering hidden gems and sharing her experiences with her readers has made her a trusted source of inspiration for those looking to explore the world in style.

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