I went to sleep to a chorus of frogs worthy of an orchestra. The lake at Bramasole Guest House in Magoebaskloof lay across the lawn from my bedroom, while the other side looked into an ancient indigenous forest. The trees are like none I have ever seen with names like Forest Cabbage Tree (Cussonia sphaerocephala) and Jackal-coffee (Tricalysia lanceolata).
I had anticipated something special after visiting their website and discovering that the owner is an architect – Robin McIntosh of Intersect Architects. I worked with architects and planners for 25 years on projects like Mitchells Plain, St George’s Mall and the V&A Waterfront, and started Architecture SA in 1978 (becoming the journal of the Institute of SA Architects the following year). Architects and planners can be the most enjoyable people to work and socialise with.
I wasn’t disappointed! He bought a truly spectacular property before prices started rising which just had a massive shed — a really massive shed. It had been used variously for breeding rabbits, as stables, growing magic mushrooms, and storing trucks.
Robin says that using the old shed meant it could never be a pretty building, but that’s only half true… from the moment you arrive you are aware of QUALITY and attention to detail. But it is a surprising building to find in rural Magoebaskloof.
But stepping inside is breathtaking. The spaces, materials used and quality of the furnishings are superb. This is four star, but it’s four star that’s also exceptionally well designed.
A few things set Bramasole apart. It is self-catering and it has the best self-catering facilities I’ve come across in a comparable establishment. It also offers bed and breakfast.
Then, Bramasole’s setting showcases the splendour of indigenous Africa. The bedrooms look straight into a dense forest that almost seems a set for Lord of the Rings. We saw a really cute, young Samango monkey (rare, CITES Appendix II) but a rooibok had been on one of the paths we took not long before we were there. Birdlife is prolific and a birder’s dream. But it was the variety of trees that fascinated me most.
Magoebaskloof itself is a very special place. Haenerstburg, a charming village, is just a few minutes away. The area offers an abundance of activities and interesting people.