For some, it is a matter of ease or the style and service offered by a five-star establishment; for others, it’s about budget, or the size of the group - which can include children and/or pets even - making self-catering options attractive.
I’ve been lucky to stay in all sorts of places, and each brings its own benefits. Who doesn’t love the luxury of a top-class hotel which caters to every whim while discreetly observing your complete privacy? You cannot fail to feel glamorous when sipping Champagne while wearing a large fluffy robe and toying with the room service menu.
B&Bs and guest houses are more intimate, while self-catering allows freedom, especially when it comes to meals and sleeping late.
Tip: always put the Do Not Disturb sign on your hotel bedroom door so housekeeping doesn’t knock early in the morning. The “DND”, as it’s known in hospitality circles, is sacred and will be strictly respected.
There are plenty of booking sites and apps around to help you pick what’s best for you.
I spent a weekend in the Constantia Valley at two vastly different places on Airbnb.
At the invitation of a friend, the first night was in one of his rooms at his home. This was completely private, with a separate entrance accessed from the off-street parking. The two rooms are compact and comfortable, with a kitchenette, shower, and - bliss - high-speed fibre. An elevated deck offers a view across the lush greenery that is so abundant in this area, despite the ongoing drought. It was secluded and quiet and I didn’t need to see a soul.
From there, I went to the other end of the spectrum with a large room in a large family home full of children (okay, just one, but he seemed like more sometimes), dogs ranging from the size of a slipper to roughly that of a small horse, and a huge garden in which to roam.
The Constantia Valley and its surrounds are very family-orientated, with lots of outdoor activities and restaurants catering to all ages. There’s that, and then there are wine farms, so eating and drinking is high on the “to do” list.
Founded in 1685, Groot Constantia is the oldest wine-producing farm in the country. It’s a huge tourist attraction, with much to offer.
Breakfast at Jonkershuis is a favourite, especially among those with small children, as there's loads of space. The morning menu is vast, with gluten-free dishes along with the classics. Then there is the amazing “breakfast beef burger”. Apparently, adding bacon and egg to something makes it “breakfast” - no argument from me.
Another must-visit is the Heritage Market at Constantia Uitsig, where you can begin at one end with sushi and continue along the row of whitewashed cottages to sample wine, chocolate and patisserie, ice cream and beer.
We were incredibly well fed and the service was above and beyond the call of duty.
Constantia is very much about being in the know, which is why asking a local is a good idea. So I did that and can share something you might not otherwise discover: Black Box Coffeeworks.
Yorke Searra and Benn Koene own this coffee truck which is anchored at Constantia Nek circle. There, they capture all the yummy mummies going on their morning walks, handsome men on their way to dressage lessons in Hout Bay, and anyone else who is prepared to drive a bit for a decent cup of coffee.
They even have an app for your phone so you can order ahead and then just drive up and grab your beverage - and a pastry or sarmie, too. Who knows, maybe you’ll even go on a little hike while you’re there.
CONSTANTIA VALLEY TOURISM
Where: Constantia Village, corner Constantia Main and Spaanschemat River roads
E-mail: [email protected]