Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.
Although many hotels are now realizing that people want to travel with their pets whenever possible, the Radisson RED at the V&A Waterfront in South Africa’s Mother City, Cape Town, decided this would be a singular part of their identity from the get-go.
While Baxter, the Boston Terrier who “signs” welcome letters and features in their corporate design is no longer on the team (he and his owner moved to another property), the spirit of Baxter is very much alive and well at this high-energy property in the Silo area of the V&A Waterfront.
The lobby area of the Radisson RED instantly spells out how this may be different from other hotels. There is no traditional reception desk, but rather a free-flowing area on the left, where staffers are ready to check you in. There are giant red beanbags instead of couches and a natty red-coloured fridge, too. On the opposite side of the lobby is a long table at which people work or just hang. When we visited there previously there was a ping-pong table there, which, I was told, will return soon.
If ever a hotel was built with millennials in mind, this is it. The important stuff: lightening-speed internet and fully interactive big-screens in the rooms, as well as fashion-forward design, makes this property pop with colour and energy. The roof top features the Red Roof Bar in a converted truck, a long lap pool, and a kitchen serving pizzas and grills. There is also undercover seating on the roof and, with views over the Waterfront and 360 degrees around it, this is a prime party space. There are yellow hexagonal shaped plastic chairs and tables that are as comfortable to sit on as they are great to look at, while a perimeter border planted in red plastic crates adds greenery.
A table and chairs works as a dining and working area. The wall-side consul contains a coffee plunger, freshly ground coffee, a kettle and takeaway coffee cups. The bathroom, which features a walk-in rain shower with an additional high-power hand shower, has quality bathroom amenities at the ready for your use.
The ground floor eatery, OUIBar & KTCHN, serves an all-you-can eat breakfast and has a Selfie wall where you can screen-grab yourself and friends.
Travelling with Julie was also a pleasure. A dog bed, water and food bowls were provided. Do let them know in advance how large a pet you are travelling with, as the standard dog bed was too snug for Julie. We always travel with her bed in the car, so it wasn’t an issue at all for us.
Of course, there is a bar fridge and a laptop sized safe provided for your use, and we were happy to find fluffy disposable slippers and robes in the wardrobe. There is a 24-hour gym in the hotel too. Frankly, we loved being in the Red.
Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter insists on joining them.
An upmarket and fully versatile property which can be used as a weekend getaway, or an extended vacation for the whole family
After adopting Julie into their forever home, luxury-travel writer, BRIAN BERKMAN, and husband, JP, don’t want to leave home without her. The good news is that they mostly don’t have to.
There are colourful stories told about Schaap Island in Yzerfontein, a promontory that intersects the coast like a sharp incisor tooth, which is inaccessible during high-tide and, the story goes, was used to safely lodge and graze sheep and other livestock at night. As you enter Yzerfontein, about an hour and a bit from Cape Town, there are two strange-looking pits with National Monument insignia. These are among the original lime kilns in the area where black-mussel shells were burned until the carbon oxidized to mix into lime which was used for building and agriculture. A walk along the coast still shows the millennia mussel shells on the beaches and between the rocks.
Atlantica is designed to entertain. With seven luxurious bedrooms (six are en-suite), this is perfect for a getaway. There is an undercover braai area on one side of the house, and a patio with seating for 12 or more, with an adjustable awning, on the other.
There is a plunge pool, a very large open-plan kitchen, walk-in pantry and scullery, complete with dishwasher and washing machine, which leads to a games room with table-tennis table, darts and a library. There is a loft above it with additional accommodations. Do note that the stairs to the front door, and from the sitting area and balcony to the kitchen, are quite steep. As a pet-friendly property there are tiled floors, that can easily be kept clean.
We took Julie on a sea-front walk soon after we arrived, and we encountered another dog that was not on the lead. The other dog seemed friendly enough, at first, and came to meet Julie, while the owner caught up. In a millisecond a happy situation turned very bad and the dog bit Julie on her leg. She was yelping! Blood was spurting! We were panicking. The other dog’s owner suggested we take Julie to the local vet which we did, and he paid the bill. The vet cleaned the wound and gave us medicine for the next week. Very fortunately, Julie didn’t need stitches.
Of course, when we travel, and especially when we travel with children or pets, such a situation can really dampen the trip. We can only imagine what might have happened had the other dog’s owner not been a decent human. While we will probably always think of Yzerfontein as the place Julie was bitten, we will also remember a kind pet owner who took responsibility for their pet’s actions. He even checked-in on all of us the following day.
Exclusive use of the property is guaranteed, whether there are two or 16 guests. Rates are R2000 for two people plus R500 per person per night sharing, thereafter. The full house rates of R9000 per night applies for 16 guests, but also, irrespective of the number of guests, full-house rates are applicable between mid-December and mid-January, and over the Easter weekend. There is no mobile phone reception, but there is free and fast Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as Netflix and Apple TV.
www.yzergetaways.co.za, 079 157 9932.
Being welcomed with open paws. While the Park Inn by Radisson, on Cape Town’s Heerengracht, on the foreshore, is ideally placed for people attending the theatre at the nearby Artscape Centre or the Cape Town International Convention Centre, which is within easy walking distance, it is also super convenient for a city break, where you are sufficiently close to feel the vibe, but sufficiently far away not to hear it.
The Park Inn by Radisson is among the growing number of hotels who understand, and most especially so since surviving lockdown together, that our pets are essential members of our families, and we don’t wish to travel without them. So, it is especially heartening to know that you and your four-legged family will be welcomed with open arms, or “open paws” as the welcome letter puts it, and special treats for Julie.
This is a four-star graded hotel, but the third-floor room we had, with a balcony overlooking the Foreshore fountain, could easily have been a five-star room. There are 120 rooms in the hotel, and all come with coffee machines and Lavazza pods, as well as a kettle and a selection of teas. Usefully, there is a lap-top sized safe and an ironing board and iron in the room, along with free Wi-Fi internet, Smart TV and a super-snazzy leather office chair on which to swivel, if the moods takes you.
But the best reason for staying here isn’t the smart room or new state-of-the-art gym, also on the third floor, but Harald’s roof-terrace and bar on the 11th floor, which seems to frame Table Mountain in such a spectacular way, you’d imagine it was purpose built to do so.
There is a tiny pool and an AstroTurf “grassy” patch with doggie bowls and loads of high tables at which to perch, and comfortable loungers too. You and your dogs are welcome throughout the hotel and even in the RGB ground-floor eatery for all day grazing and where a delicious breakfast is served. It has been a while since we have been in the Foreshore and the whole area, from the fountain which is now looking glorious and working full-time, to the neat landscaping along the Heerengracht, seems much upgraded since we were there last. Julie loved our walks long the grassy patches and into Green Market Square, and while we have lived in Cape Town all our lives, this most recent visit suggested that the city improvement projects, and local government safety initiatives, are really succeeding.
The Park Inn provides secure undercover parking, albeit via Thibault Square, which you must access from behind the hotel. We had the feeling that everything was switched on – all the staff we encountered – from the welcome at the front door, to ordering delicious food on the rooftop, were ready, friendly and efficient, but not in that sometimes-bristling way that makes one a little uncomfortable. We can’t wait to go back, if only because Julie so loved the special doggie-bed they provided for her and her being the near constant centre of attention.
From farm stays to luxurious hotels and guesthouses, travel writer Brian Berkman doesn’t want to explore without doggie-daughter Julie coming along.
Ella’s Country House
“Ella’s really does provide all the comforts you need. A king-sized and very comfortable bed, writing desk, and two sleeper couches for additional accommodations in the open-plan space.”
In her continuing plans for an on-going jetset lifestyle, Julie chastises Brian Berkman each time they return home from a fabulous pet-friendly stay.
I’ve created a monster. Ever since Julie has become a travel dog, she punishes me when we return to our daily life. It is not that she is a snob – you see – but rather she likes to be out so much, that being home no longer makes the grade.
The first time I felt the sting of her indignation, I thought I was imagining things. But now, after eight different pet-friendly stays, I see the trend as clear as day. When we return, like we did recently from a wonderful farm stay at Kleindoorn Guesthouse, near Barrydale, she makes a point, when we get home, of pooing onto thorny spikes that almost slash my fingers when I pick it up. I even upgraded poo bags to those extra thick biodegradable ones. She seeks out the prickliest of fynbos on the mountain and, carefully takes aim to land just between the leaves making scratches and pricks all but unavoidable. And, when we returned from Ella’s in the wonderfully rural village of Greyton, she did the same thing. Julie has become a Hitchcockian villain.
Greyton was a particular highlight for her. It was her first close encounter with horses and cattle on foot. Greyton is like that. We did the Gifkloof Trail, which is a seven kilometer round trip with some steep climbs, but nothing tricky. There are wonderful views over the village from the peak, 330 meters up. Ella’s, in Greyton, is at 88 Main Road and about one kilometer away from the centre of the village and its charming restaurants. Ella’s is hosted by a wonderful chef, Jonathan, who, by prior arrangement, will cook for you. Although billed as self-catering accommodation, it isn’t really intended to be used to cook a feast, with only a microwave, Nespresso machine, toaster and bar fridge in the kitchenette. As Greyton accommodations go, Ella’s is among the most affordable at around R1000 a night. We loved the large-raised viewing deck and timber table, chairs and large canvas umbrella, which was for our exclusive use outside the entrance to our loft, from which we gazed at the mountain.
“ I’ve created a monster. Ever since Julie has become a travel dog, she punishes me when we return to our daily life.”
There is a chicken coop and Julie was preternaturally fascinated by them, so we kept her on her leash and made sure we weren’t in the acre large garden when the chickens were. There is an eco pool at Ella’s that uses plants and stones as a natural filtration, and we were very impressed to see their special, composting fence, which acts as a bug hotel so that the bugs keep away from the kitchen garden and the rest of us. Ella’s really does provide all the comforts you need. A king-sized and very comfortable bed, writing desk and two sleeper couches for additional accommodations in the open-plan space. Note that while the loo and shower are behind a wall and door that provides visual privacy, there is a significant gap between the top of the walls and the thatched ceiling.
There is a very large, shared fireplace as well as a Weber in a covered lapa, with comfy couches off the garden to enjoy the outdoors, but under cover.
See ellas.co.za for booking details.
Kleindoorn Guest House
To take full advantage of life off the lead consider a farm stay where you and your dogs are treasured guests. The Kleindoorn Guesthouse near Barrydale in the Little Karoo is a working farm with a classic farmhouse available to rent. Built in 1900, the thick walls and high ceilings mean that even in the Karoo heat, the house is always a comfortable temperature. While this is a no-frills option, it is supremely comfortable and wonderful to luxuriate in the vast open spaces.
While the house has a gate and a low slate wall, both Julie and the farm’s resident, Vizsla, a caramel-coloured beauty named Lucy, could easily jump over it. Although there is very poor mobile phone reception on the farm, there is excellent free wi-fi. The farmhouse, built in the original style with a large covered verandah in the front, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, but many other beds in public areas that do double duty as divans for reading and lounging.
Our favourite spot was the sunroom, looking onto the hill behind the house. With large windows, the room is bathed in natural light, and is the perfect place to write or to paint, which the previous occupant, the celebrated Afrikaans writer, poet and painter, Christine Barkhuizen-le Roux did. Do make a point of ordering meat and their very special farm sausage – boerewors – made only with beef mince from the farm’s Wagyu cattle.
What’s important to know is that, while there is a small toaster oven with two hot plates on top and an electric frying pan, your best bet is to braai (bbq) in the large indoor fireplace in the kitchen or in one of two equally large fireplaces outside. We loved the one directly outside the front door for the vast views over vineyards, groves of apricot trees, poplars in the distance, and the blue-tinged mountains.
There is a mountain walking route to a waterfall behind the house and you can walk forever along the farm roads. Here you have space, space and space. Be sure to have solid walking shoes as there are many thorns in the veld and, on more than one occasion, we had to take a thorn out of Julie’s paw. Although when Lucy came to visit us in the house, Julie barked aggressively at her, but when they met up outside the house, they became firm friends. As overprotective parents, we very rarely let Julie truly run free, but we are so pleased that we did, as we witnessed an unbridled joy in her that we don’t often see. On one walk, along the farm roads, she and Lucy were darting amongst the fynbos and Karoo bush and even though we were worried about her encountering a snake, we decided to let her enjoy freedom.
Of course, back on the lead at home, she used the first opportunity to remind me how much more she likes being away than being home by selecting the pointiest and finger-cutting bush to discharge her duty.
FROM A LARGE COUNTRY HOME FOR EXTENDED-FAMILY STAYS TO ONE OF THE BEST HOTELS IN THE WORLD, BRIAN BERKMAN WANTS JULIE TO COME ALONG.
“I suppose, with a property as palatial as this one, having so many indoor spots to explore, kept her busy. We did venture out, but after an hour we were all soaked and our shoes and paws muddy. Thankfully, we had left a fire burning in one of those fabulous ceramic fireplaces in the kitchen, that safely contain sparks, and it was toasty when we arrived back.”
Faraway Estate, a moment outside the town of Villiersdorp, is set up against the mountain. It is a palatial home for gatherings of between 6 to 20 people, and pet-friendly. Built with entertaining in mind – each downstairs reception room opens into the next with French doors everywhere. 20 people can sit around the main dining table. The walled pool with loungers and covered dining area, keeps the wind away while a tennis court, croquet set, billiards room and mountain walks are there for those who want to stay active.
A walk-in, restaurant-sized cold room and an ice-maker, along with all the mod-cons, make the kitchen a dream for foodies. There is a cellar (with another huge table), five fire places throughout the house and a zillion places to braai. We chose two days in early March during which it didn’t stop raining. The true success of a getaway is that it can still be marvellous, even when the weather isn’t, and this property really succeeds. Even Julie, our mixed-breed darling (although some people say she is a Canis Africanas, and when I look at photos of Canis lupus familiaris, she seems to, at least, in part to fit – her nose and short-coat the most characteristic attributes among them) loved it. She was more than happy to hang out with us. I suppose, with a property as palatial as this one, having so many indoor spots to explore, kept her busy. We did venture out, but after an hour we were all soaked and our shoes and paws muddy. Thankfully, we had left a fire burning in one of those fabulous ceramic fireplaces in the kitchen, that safely contain sparks, and it was toasty when we arrived back.
Set on a working apple, pear and stone-fruit farm, high up against the mountain, this is the ideal place to holiday as an extended family or with friends. It is also a popular wedding venue. The main manor house accommodates six people in absolute luxury, and there is a standalone cottage and loft space that accommodate five people and six people respectively, suited to a young family or close friends.
The main house (sleeps six) is available from R6000 per night for a minimum of a two night stay. We cannot wait to return. https://www.farawayestate.com
The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
THE 12 APOSTLES HOTEL & SPA IS A DELUXE, MULTIPLE AWARD-WINNING RED CARNATION PROPERTY WITH TABLE MOUNTAIN’S 12 APOSTLES RANGE AS YOUR BACKYARD, AND THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AS YOUR FRONT ROOM. Julie is always the star of the show whenever we travel with her, and I don’t mind telling you, sometimes I am a little jealous of all the positive attention she receives.
At the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, dogs and cats are welcome to dine in the Leopard bar. The hotel has an especially designed branded plinth into which food and water bowls fit, and the plushest of plush royal blue cushions on which to sleep. Our suite had direct access to the lawns and mountain, so we didn’t think it wise to let her be off-lead, even when taking in the afternoon sun while overlooking the sea. Julie seemed especially fond of chasing Rock Hyrax, which are a protected species.
The beauty of the Leopard Bar at the 12 Apostles, is that while they have an extensive list of alcoholic drinks (gins seem a particular favourite), they also have an equally long list of alcohol-free drinks, including some botanicals that they have made themselves. And, the menu at The Leopard Bar, serving food from breakfast through to late in the evening, is affordable and delicious. Of course, there is a well-equipped gym, but with direct access to the “Missing Link” contour path on Table Mountain – a favourite with mountain bikers – you have every opportunity to be as active as you wish. Sloth is, however, equally encouraged here.
There is a small luxe cinema with jars of candy and posh popcorn, and the spa is rightly well loved and acclaimed. The spa is always popular and numbers are being limited to ensure Covid-19 compliance, so book ahead. In 2002 The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa was purchased by the Tollman family’s Red Carnation Group and renovated into the magnificent and award-chart topper hotel it is today, with 55 gracious rooms and 15 sumptuous suites, each individually decorated.
The Red Carnation trademark is much more than a buttonhole. In previous years, rooms offered a well-equipped stationery drawer, now replaced by USB charging outlets and light-speed Internet. A helium-filled balloon is another Red Carnation tradition, a touch of whimsy within the deeply luxurious and elegant interiors.
The most important signature is less easy to see, but almost instantly felt. There is a warmth and generosity of spirit in the hospitality offered at each Red Carnation Hotel encountered, that makes the guest experience stand head and shoulders above its competitors.
Although the interiors at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa are stunning, with museum-quality South African oil paintings and a full collection of Cecil Skotnes lithographs as you approach the Azure restaurant, it is what lies outside that really takes your breath away.
There is a bark-a-licious and a Cat Purr-fect menu created by the hotel’s executive chef, Christo Pretorius, in conjunction with a local vet. Pet beds, emblazoned with the 12A hotel logo, and elegant food and water-bowl holders, are available at no extra cost if you let the hotel know at the time of your reservation that you are traveling with four-legged family. https://12apostleshotel.com
Never mind the 4 X 4, four-legged travel is where it is at. As we increasingly find we have to avoid other people, our relationship with our family unit becomes even more essential. And, if, as in ours, a pet is included in that family unit, then being away without them is a hardship and should be avoided. Happily, and ever more so, as hotels and guesthouses adapt to the new normal, well-behaved pets are invited too.
The Marine Hotel in Hermanus recently updated their pet policy. Guests in ground-floor rooms with a balcony are most welcome to bring their princess pooches or, indeed, feline friends along for the visit at no extra cost, providing a pet service is requested at the time of booking. As an elegant yet comfortable seaside hotel, The Marine knows that those of us travelling with pets want to have clear directions about where we and our pets will be welcome. All the information, including a copy of the Bark-A-Licious menu and the option of an in-room pet sitter, was explained in a note addressed to Julie, our doggie daughter.
Like all things at The Marine Hotel (and any of the other fine hotels in the Liz McGrath Collection), the warm hearted, yet efficient customer-centric service, will leave one wishing that handshakes or even hugs to show appreciation were again permitted. It is hard not to be emotionally touched by the staff at this landmark hotel.
Do be prepared though to have less of the limelight. Julie was certainly the star of the show during our recent visit, with all the staff knowing her name and enquiring after her. She may have been travelling with us, but from her perspective we were simply part of her entourage. While we selected our breakfast, sitting poolside under the awning where jasmine and pink bougainvillea competed for attention, the chef came to enquire how Julie would like her burger cooked. Any notion of our Julie being an elegant sophisticate, she does, after all, have a twinset (matching harness and leash), went out of the window as she inhaled her carefully prepared and presented burger and rice. As an aside, for days since returning home from The Marine, she looked accusingly at us come mealtimes. Although we always travel with food and a bed for Julie, The Marine Hotel has more than everything you will need – even, thoughtfully, some snacks for her and a roll of poo-bags along with a plush cushion which, being the snob she is, she preferred.
While in Hermanus, make a point to walk along the cliff path, 11km of craggy coast and likely the best land-based place to see whales. Julie is fascinated by the Dassies that live among the milkwood trees and in the crags. Also, in the nearby Fernkloof Nature Reserve, dogs on a leash are welcome to use the blue walking route.
Note that this route is quite exposed to the sun during summer so take care not to overheat. But, with all the luxury and pampering on offer at The Marine Hotel you, as we, will be tempted to spend days at the heated pool. Room service includes cuisine from all The Marine’s restaurants, including the outstanding Origins, at no additional tray charge.
Greater pet-friendly luxury will be hard to come by.
The Marine Hotel, Hermanus https://www.themarinehotel.co.za
Walk among the citrus orchards at Petersfield, a working citrus and rooibos-tea farm on the N7 near Citrusdal. Accommodations are self-catering and vary in size from the romantic two-person Stonehaven cottage, high on the mountain, to an extended family-sized house, Die Veepos cottage.
Pets are welcome throughout, but note that Stonehaven is not fenced in while the others are. With more than a kilometer between accommodations, one feels wonderfully isolated. Although among the most affordable of accommodation options, one leaves Petersfield with a sense of the owner’s generosity.
Loads of additional firewood, is one example, and the invitation to pick lemons from the tree when you see them is yet another. Also, the thoughtful touches like salt and pepper in the kitchen and good quality kitchen implements are remembered. Standouts at Petersfield include outside baths (there are tubs inside too) and a plunge pool to stay cool in the heat. Or, come winter, the sort of sofa in front of the fireplace that simply invites sloth. Julie loved her walks around the dam (take care that the dam is deep and plastic lined and dogs or children might slip in), through the orchards and the impressive avenue of poplar trees and up the mountain to look at the tea lands on the opposite side.
There is good MTN mobile and data reception, and the tranquility of being ensconced in nature with your loved ones makes it a regenerative visit and worthy of an extended stay.
31 on Seaview is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of City life, to revive mind, body and soul for a quick weekend break away (or longer stay)
Fully equipped, 31 on Seaview, is a very cosy, self-catering and pet-friendly apartment nestled in the heart of Pearl Bay, Yzerfontein. Conveniently situated a mere 99 km from Cape Town International Airport, the V & A Waterfront and Winelands.
31 on Seaview is only 150 m from the beach, offering exquisite ocean views, breath-taking sun and moon sets, clear star bonanzas and the continuous sound of the waves breaking – absolute music to your ears. Our unique “town” also boasts free roaming ostriches, and observing their rather peculiar way of walking on the tar road, will put an instant smile on your face.
The living area opens onto a deck through 2 sliding doors to enjoy a braai with astonishing sea view. The elevated deck makes it a possibility to do some whale watching, see dolphins riding the waves, enjoy sea lions leisurely playing around behind the waves or observing the odd flock of seabirds either going South or North. The deck is fully enclosed with stacker doors to protect the guest from the nasty South Easter. A portion of the deck is also under a glass cover.
The main bedroom opens onto the deck with a breath-taking sea view. The room comprises a king-size bed, built-in cupboards and a dressing table with mirror. The second bedroom has a garden view and comprise twin beds, built-in cupboards and a dressing table with large mirrors. The unit has a full bathroom with bath, shower, toilet, and basin. For the not so faint hearted, we even offer an outside warm water shower with a sea or star view.
The fully equipped open-plan kitchenette offers everything you need for preparing a home-cooked meal. Alternatively, Yzerfontein offers 6 restaurants where you can enjoy scrumptious meals, if preferred.
To make your stay even more memorable and comfortable, the unit is equipped with a FULL DSTV bouquet, DVD Player, Sound Bar as well as Wi-Fi.
Max, our three-year-old Border Collie, ensures our pet-friendly environment. He is a very sociable, furry friend and his warm and friendly personality will make your stay even more pleasant.
We offer a unique surprise welcoming package. The unit is stocked with ample coffee (filter and instant), tea (normal or rooibos) and sugar.
We definitely ²aim to please” and will do everything in our ability to ensure one of your most memorable holidays ever!!!
Book now by quoting PetPrints and you will receive a 10% discount on our normal rates.