The driveway that leads to Jan Harmsgat Country House is like arriving at an old-world manor house somewhere in the English countryside – you haven’t quite seen it yet, but you just know that it is going to be homey, welcoming and breathtaking all at once. And you are utterly correct, of course.
Surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, and about half-way between Swellendam and Bonnievale lies the picturesque Jan Harmsgat, every traveller’s dream, and every foodies must-visit spot – the Country House also plays home to the very well known ‘Just Amy’, its on-site restaurant.
We parked at the guest parking and headed over to reception where we were warmly welcomed and made to feel right at home. Our bags were fetched from the car and carried across to our room which was close to reception, as it had started drizzling just as we arrived.
Our double room featured a big balcony with a table and comfy armchairs looking out over the beautifully manicured gardens, and an old school entrance hallway as well (with an umbrella in a stand – clearly it rains regularly here!)
Perfectly kitted out, each room features different and unique pieces of antique furniture to continue the old school country living feel, our queen-sized bed, antique armoire, kist and coffee station all brought that feel through perfectly, and a huge bouquet of fresh flowers with a touching welcoming note awaited us.
I have to just rave about the bathroom here – as it is literally my dream bathroom and I am totally stealing this idea for my own home one day, haha (sorry JH team!).
Black and white checked floor tiles with beautiful marble countertops and white sanitaryware – the walk-in shower with its huge glass panes had me spellbound. I don’t have a very big bathroom at home, or even a bath for that matter, so I tend to go a bit moggy about beautiful bathrooms.
On the face cloths lay a piece of spekboom, explaining what the plant does (it’s a great oxygen-producing plant that requires very little water or much else) and people are encouraged to take it home and plant it, which of course I did, and my plant now sits proudly on my balcony – a little memory of JH every day!
After a quick walk around the property to take photos and have a look at the stunning, privately sheltered swimming pool – we headed off on our very own wine tasting – at the top of the mountain!
For whatever reason, we were the only ones on the wine tasting, which was great – the team at JH spared nothing on attention to detail and imagine our delight at not only the most spectacular views, and tasty wines, but a picnic spread fit for a queen – all popping miraculously out of the 4 x 4 vehicle.
This was certainly a highlight of the visit for me (besides the bathroom, of course) and the wines were superb. Being a mostly white wine drinker the Sauvignon Blanc and the Chenin Blanc were my favourites, while my travelling companion enjoyed the Pinotage!
As it was starting to get a bit chilly, we headed back as the sun started to set and freshened up in preparation for dinner.
Both dinner and breakfast are served in Just Amy, and I love how the same restaurant totally transforms between night time and day time dining, the building is what I imagine would have been an old farm building, low ceiling with old farm windows set into the thick walls and a barn door as the front door.
The farmhouse cats wander around the beautiful entrance and to the side of the building is a relaxed outdoor area, with big cushions, fire pits and comfy seating – great for outdoor dining or events. In fact, they often host weddings and spectacular private functions on the property.
We arrived for dinner early, after a busy day on the wine route and driving around, we had worked up an appetite and were ushered inside to have a seat on the cosy couches while we waited for our table to be prepared. Candles and muted lighting created a peaceful ambience, and as they only have 10 rooms the dining room was busy, but not too full, or too noisy.
A welcome glass of wine was served and as soon as our table was ready we were assisted to move across and seated with a flourish, napkins placed on our laps and menu’s presented. The menu is not extensive – and to be honest, I love that, as it makes selecting ones food so much easier!
The kitchen team at Just Amy use freshly grown produce from their garden, so the menu changes regularly and the dishes are unique and tasty.
We opted for meat dishes, and the steak with fresh veggies and homemade chips was delicious and hit the spot perfectly. I can quite honestly say that I slept like a log that night – after a wonderful bath and a hot cup of tea.
Breakfast the next morning was another delicious spread – fresh fruits and yoghurts with granola and tasty pastries (yes I went right in for a muffin – who could possibly say no to a tasty homemade muffin, right?) with warm food ordered off their menu. I am a stickler for Eggs Benedict – so that was my choice and it was delicious.
A few cappuccinos later and we were ready to hit the road once more for our next destination, after a wonderful stay – and I must just take this opportunity to thank Francois who looked after us with the utmost care during our stay, thank you for making this spot even more memorable!
I cannot recommend Jan Harmsgat more if I tried – do yourself a favour and spend a night or three, you will fall as deeply in love with the views, decor and the staff as I did. With my whole heart, I cannot wait to return to this piece of paradise in the middle of the country.
A: R60 District Bonnievale/Drew
T: +27 (0) 87 012 5356