It kind of feels like the end of the road, Arniston. In the best possible way. You drive and drive and drive (just more than 200km from Cape Town) through rolling farmlands, towns like Caledon, Napier and Bredasdorp, there are sheep along the way, and cows and the occasional silo… and then suddenly a collection of white-washed houses and the scent of the sea.
Unlike many other towns along South Africa’s coastline, Arniston doesn’t have a road running through it. The R316 that connects it to Caledon (and ultimately the N2) via Bredasdorp comes to a picturesque dead-end, practically forcing you to stop. Breathe. Recharge.
A little harbour. A bay with white sand, smooth rocks and turquoise water. And at the centre of everything – the Arniston Hotel & Spa.
Just beyond the lobby, deck chairs arranged around a clear blue pool offer a tempting alternative to the beach and a tranquil view for rooms that don’t face the sea.
The hotel carries a four-star rating and has four different room offerings: luxury sea facing, superior sea facing, ground floor sea facing and pool facing. The luxury sea facing rooms are the largest and have a separate lounge area, some also have a fireplace to add an extra bit of coziness, especially during a winter break. All rooms have private balconies, en-suite bathrooms and a mini bar that can be stocked on request.
What sets Arniston Hotel apart from its city counterparts are the delightful personal touches here and there – fresh rusks to go with delicious plunger coffee, staff who are always ready for a chat and even a little flask of complimentary sherry/port for guests to enjoy.
Ideally while they’re doing this, you should be indulging in a delectable meal at the in-house restaurant. While the Arniston Hotel Restaurant is renowned for its fantastic seafood dishes, it also has a delectable offering of meat, poultry, vegetarian and pasta dishes. Get into local mode by ordering a glass (or bottle) of Arniston Bay wine to compliment your food.
Breakfast is included in your hotel stay and takes the form of a generous buffet blending continental and hot fare. It’s served in the restaurant between 07:00 and 10:00. If, however, you miss breakfast due to a much-needed sleep-in, the adjacent hotel bar serves a mean lunch, with options ranging from salads to burgers to line fish.
The hotel is within comfortable walking distance of Arniston’s biggest attractions: the beach, Kassiesbaai heritage town and the Waenhuiskrans Cave. The gorgeous 200-year-old fishing village of Kassiesbaai is a national heritage site and a photographer’s dream. Take a stroll through the narrow gravel streets, and stop off at Willeen’s restaurant for a bite to eat. The Waenhuiskrans Cave, is located in the opposite direction of Kassiesbaai and is only accessible at low tide, adding something of a thrill to the outing.
The Arniston Hotel & Spa has bicycles that guests can book out for further exploration, and don’t worry, the surrounding area is pretty level – you won’t even work up much of a sweat!
Finally, once you’ve spent the day exploring to your heart’s content, check yourself into the Ginko Spa for one of their toe-curlingly divine treatments. The rapid tension release back and neck massage comes highly recommended, and also won’t break the bank.