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When considering all of the abounding attributes Plettenberg Bay has to offer as a destination, one might think of its long, dreamy beaches with warm waters, its burgeoning wilderness, the clusters of communities that spill out from the beach cafés, delicatessens and bevy of bakeries, bars and restaurants; fit for the whole crew. You might also consider its access to nature and the slower-pace of living, the bird and wildlife, the scenic cruises and walks along the cliffs. The thrills, as well as the calm. What you might not consider, however, is the possibility of escaping to this haven along the Garden Route, and residing in your very own urban retreat that’s tucked away from the more obvious beachside bungalows. A north and east African inspired home, all dressed up as a luxury lodge. A vestige of a traveller’s voyage that beckons you in, engaging all senses, and whisks you away to a whole other world of tranquility, that this revered holiday destination has to offer.
Nestled within the wilderness of the wetlands, sitting on the periphery of the bird sanctuary, and a short wander from the waves of Robberg Beach, The Urban Safari opens its original, robust Zanzibar doors into a secluded oasis of tropical bliss. With its rescued king and Madagascan palms, tree aloes and ferns, all occupying the north-facing courtyard, this hideaway instantly captivates the cockles of an escapist’s heart and lures you in to its vast open spaces that flow seamlessly from the inside out. A collaboration of design between architect Paul Oosthuizen and the owners – both haling from life-long careers in five-star hospitality – The Urban Safari is a tribute to the couple’s years of travel, to their family, to love, to unity and eternity. As seen in the mosaic symbols and their deeper meaning, that are glistening from the bottom of the swimming pool, embedded as bronze inlays in front of the three indoor fireplaces, and up on the rooftop terraces.
Endless hours of soft light flood the courtyard with its low-slung day beds and armchairs, scattered cushions and chunky antique tables, adjacent the trickling fountain and swimming pool that laps the edges of the verandah. The elements bounce off the mirrors and flow through the open, retractable glass doors, into the living spaces – around the lounge with its comfy velvet furnishings that swallow you up – into the kitchen – that’s fit for every chef – onto the intimate, private dining space and out onto a large deck overlooking the reeds of the vlei. Leading out down a path that meanders the exposed milkwoods, beneath the wild fig trees – that are all lit up at night – into the cactus garden, with its fever trees, Eastern Cape aloes, Watsonia and stralitzia palms that cocoon the boma. A perfect spot for those still, summer nights, gathered around the fire, cackling away with the cormorants.
All of the glorious five bedrooms are ensuite, draped in luxury, soft linens, and open out to nature. Each with their own view of the courtyard, or out over the wetlands. The main ensuite sits upon the rooftop, entirely secluded and intimate, opening out onto the terrace where the herb and salad gardens thrive. The morning sun creeps into the main ensuite bathroom, saluting the start of each new day with dapples of golden light, colouring the steam from the his and hers showers. It’s a space where rituals are upheld and the chit-chat treasured.
As the days drift by at The Urban Safari, there’s an ongoing sense of the exotic, the intrepid and the affluent. Yet at the same time, the nurturing of familiarity, the ingenuous and the comfort. A wondrous hideaway, hidden in the notorious Plett.
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What you need to know…
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie
No kids under 8 (uncovered pool)
Babies in arms are welcome
Sleeps 8 guests in 4 bedrooms
No Pets Allowed
Off-Peak - R15 000
Peak - R30 000
Winter - R10 000