Places To Stay: Upper House – Clarens, South Africa

Name:  Upper House

Locatation:  Clarens, Eastern Free State, South Africa

Description:  It is a small guest house, where all the rooms have private entrances with secure parking, and access to the lush garden, where one can enjoy a sundowner or two. The rooms are tastefully decorated and exude a sense of peace and calm, whilst small touches like stacks of magazines, books, a bowl of sweets, flowers, DSTV, and excellent WiFi, make one instantly feel at home.

Surroundings:  It is located a short stroll away from the centre of town, where most businesses are clustered together.

What makes it special?  The owner, Natalie Dell, is the perfect hostess. The reception I received from her was warm and friendly. We chatted like old friends, and she made various great suggestions on where to eat and shop, before discreetly retreating.

The decanter with sherry was a lovely touch, and particularly welcome on a chilly evening with rain lashing against the window panes, while the plunger pot with a generous supply of filter coffee, fresh milk in the fridge, and rusks added a homely feel to the whole experience.

Food: Breakfast is served in the room, and is freshly cooked and delicious.

Website:   www.upperhouse.co.za

How to get there: It takes just over 3 hours to reach from Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, via the N3.

THINGS TO DO:

Explore Clarens on foot:  The town is a popular weekend destination, and can get very busy. Early morning walks, when the town is sleepy and quiet, are the best. Gentle strolls through the dusty streets are delightful. For something slightly more strenuous, but much more rewarding for views, either take Mallen Walk (1 hour) or the Kloof Mountain Trail (2.5 hours), starting at the end of Zyl Street at the foot of the mountain. Look out for the Clarens Village Conservancy signs, and follow the many walking trails skirting the edges of town. Reward yourself with a craft beer at the Clarens Brewery or coffee and what is rumoured to be the best carrot cake in South Africa, at the Courtyard Bakery and Café. Browse through the many art galleries and shops, and stock up on all sorts of delectable goodies at the Purple Onion Delicatessen.

Visit Golden Gate National Park:  Just a short drive from Clarens, the majestic sandstone cliffs of Golden Gate National Park will take your breath away. Simply go for a drive through the park, or explore it by going on one of the many hiking trails.

Visited:  November 2017