Ever wondered what a 5-star guesthouse experience is like? Zoe Macfarlane checks out the pinnacle of luxury guesthouses at Crayfish Lodge in South Africa’s shark diving capital, Gansbaai.
Guesthouses in South Africa are a Big Thing, especially in small towns where zoning laws prohibit hotel developments. A guesthouse stay doesn’t mean your luxury standards have to go, however. In fact, deluxe guesthouses can offer a 5-star experience, without the typically steep 5-star large-chain price tag.
Crayfish Lodge, on South Africa’s Whale Coast, has a reputation for being the regional gold standard for a luxury guesthouse experience. Praised for their nothing-is-to-much-trouble attitude and passion for the Gansbaai community, it would have been bad manners not to check out this 5-star guesthouse when passing through, right?
CHECK-IN & BEYOND
Crayfish Lodge’s elegant Bauhaus architecture wouldn’t be out of place at a Sydney beachfront address. The effusive welcome from co-owner Sandra was a challenge to hear over the sound of my jaw dropping at the property’s gorgeous view.
Crayfish Lodge’s hillside locale affords extensive Atlantic Ocean and bay views, reaching as far as the 1800-hectare Fernkloof Nature Reserve and across to Dyer Island. The latter is a regular hang spot for the great white sharks that put Gansbaai on the tourism map.
My Panorama suite’s large French doors and white, stylish furnishings perfectly complemented the expansive ocean and Overberg coastline views. The spacious deck and lush outdoor furnishings offered a secondary spot to listen to the thunderous waves and swirl of birds cawing overhead. In winter, you can even watch whales migrating from here.
The décor throughout Crayfish Lodge is stylish-African, affording a sense of place without any cheesiness. This, plus the quality bed and bedding and large spa bath, would have made it hard to leave if it weren’t for a shark cage diving excursion with Marine Dynamics.
FOOD & DRINKS
Breakfast at Crayfish Lodge is a standout; a seemingly never-ending deli-esque spread that guests rave about. Loading up on Sandra’s signature omelette-muffins, gluten-free crepes, and homemade spreads meant lunch was unwarranted, leaving only an evening meal to decide upon.
While Crayfish Lodge doesn’t have an on-site restaurant, they’ll happily get you booked into their fave spots in town.
Crayfish Lodge has a comfy open-plan lounge for guests to share; great for solo travellers who crave occasional interaction (ahem, that’s me). As everything is sea-facing, you can watch the cherry-red hues of sunset from across the property. Native South African plants surround the small salt-water pool, and there’s also a beauty room on-site and parking available.
Crayfish Lodge’s idyllic hilltop address in De Kelders, a Gansbaai suburb, affords both sweeping views and easy access to the beach, bays, and reserve. It’s a safe 30-minute walk to the town’s best restaurants.
Sandra and Reinhard always held a vision to be self-sufficient, but it wasn’t until the technology arrived in South Africa that their goal could become a reality. They installed solar panels two years ago that generate 75% of the lodge’s power.
The Kern’s also have a staunch buy-local philosophy, an 8,000-strong worm farm, and their own beehives for honey. In-room supplies include Afriearth’s organic, biodegradable bath products.
With travellers in 2020 seeking more individualised and authentic experiences, 5-star guesthouses fit that remit. Crayfish Lodge proved that luxury guesthouse hospitality goes beyond anything a standard hotel can offer, without compromising comfort or deluxe standards. My only criticism is a note to self: next time, stay longer!
Crayfish Lodge is located in Gansbaai on the Western Cape with Atlantic Room rates starting from AUD300 for two with bed and breakfast. Rent a car from Cape Town Airport to discover the region fully. Otherwise, combine local tours with shuttle transfers ($150 return) if you’re not keen on driving.
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