After my last visit to Swellendam in 2019, my heart has yearned to return to the country opulence of Jan Harmsgat Country House. If you haven’t visited this stunning side of the Cape, you should pick up your bucket list and pencil it in right at the top.
It’s no coincidence that the farm’s original name Jan Harmansz Schat translates to treasure. Space, charm and an unsurpassed opportunity to indulge is the most apt description of this elegant space with every comfort you could wish for.
On our arrival, we were met with the warmest welcome. A whole-hearted embrace and broad smile on a familiar face. General Manager, Francois, is the epitome of hospitality and it was a true joy to be back with him and his wonderful team. Right from the start we were spoiled in real Jan Harmsgat style. Two days of luxurious rest and relaxation began as we checked in to the gorgeous honeymoon suite which is country living at its finest. As we settled in, we could hear the sweet French melodies filtering through the shuttered windows from Just Amy, the cosiest fine-dining restaurant down below.
A gentle twilight began to fall and the air turned chilly so we bundled up warmly and ambled downstairs for dinner. Walking into Just Amy and past the grand piano nestled in the corner, the fondest memories of my last visit made me smile contently. True to form, Chef Josh’s menu was filled with a selection of the finest French-inspired dishes. His lovely wife Christelle joined us for a chat as we waited for our starters to arrive. The creamiest and sweetest Baked Camembert made my foodie heart swell – cheese is my weakness and combined with cranberries, caramelised onion and toasted Crostini, I was in heaven. A few glasses of fine JHG wine and we were warm and happy. Mains was a succulent Lamb Shank – slow braised Karoo lamb, mashed potato with red wine sauce and vegetables. Indulgence on a plate! Just Amy has recently been acknowledged as Most Memorable Dining Experience by the UK’s LUXlife Magazine so you’ll be assured that every mouthful will be an unforgettable experience.
The next morning as the sun’s rays peeked gently in, we awoke and headed back down for another delicious experience. Sweet French Toast with banana syrup and fresh pomegranate juice out in the winter sunshine was a blissful start to the day. After breakfast we were treated to a rejuvenating experience at the new Oena Spa. Our day continued with a visit to Jan Harmsgat’s sister property – Mardouw Country House. We took a leisurely afternoon stroll through the grounds before hopping onto the safari vehicle for my most favourite JHG experience.
We wound our way up the hill through the pomegranates and pecan trees to the most awe-inspiring lookout point. As the sun set around us with views of the Langeberg all round, we sipped and chatted and enjoyed a selection of charcuterie treats. Be sure to make this a part of your stay!
This was the ideal way to end off our magical weekend. Thank you, Jan Harmsgat, for another incredible visit. We left with so many more memories which we’ll think back on until we see you all again.