Once a stable, perhaps, or a cow byre or dairy, and now an impossibly chic two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage, Hope Cottage is at the heart of the Constantia vineyards planted by Simon van der Stel around his homestead at Groot Constantia early in the 18th century. In the Cape, as provenance goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. The building, renovated in 2017, takes its name from an historic farm called Hope of Constantia, of which the old gabled homestead survives nearby. Together with the iconic Groot Constantia, and Klein Constantia, both next door, these form a triumvirate of historic estates in the vanguard of the fledgling wine industry in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Step outside the conservatory dining area and you’re in the middle of vines that even now produce some of South Africa’s finest wines.
Provenance is one thing, character quite another. Hope Cottage has extraordinarily stylish owners – the wife an antique dealer, the husband a publisher. Not only did they restore the 170-year old building, but they also embellished it in ways that have given it unique character and personality. As you enter into the kitchen dining area, a sea of handmade, black-and-white floor tiles designed by the antique dealer wife instantly assails you. There’s a happy meeting of style and craftsmanship and it’s a continuing theme: the huge kitchen ‘island’ for instance, is fashioned from a slab of recycled oak rescued when the tree facing the front door was decimated in a storm. Solid, authentic, functional, it speaks to the history of this utilitarian building and is instantly at one with its context. Above it, the pot rack, an antique wooden thresher, is adorned with air plants interspersed with hanging light fixtures, both a necessary fixture and a unique talking point. Beyond, the dining table is housed in a simple, contemporary glass ‘box’ extension. Stylish yet functional, it’s a simple but effective way to let more light into the house.
Throughout the building windows and their shutters have been restored or remade, here and there plaster has been stripped back to reveal ancient brickwork and in the sitting room yellowwood beams gleam once again while the fireplace has been opened up and is in working order. Everywhere the furnishings are polyglot mixture of English and French antiques and contemporary pieces, and there are smart European fabrics and ethnic African textiles.
Those same stylish owners are also delightful hosts and will furnish you with recommendations for great restaurants, the best beaches and any current cultural delights, ensuring your experience of Hope Cottage is of a hideaway with heart.
What we love!
- The setting is simply beautiful, amongst the vineyards and only a short walk to the restaurants of Groot Constantia, Simons and Jonkershuis & wine tasting in the cellars.
- The peace of living on a farm-like setting yet mere minutes from shopping at Constantia Village to stock up on everything.
- Some of the city’s best eateries are on your doorstep – Buitenverwachting is down the road, Foxcroft, Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constance, Harbour House at Constantia Nek, La Colombe, Bistro 1682 at Steenberg are all a short drive or Uber away.
- You are perfectly positioned for wine-tasting trips, in the very heart of the Constantia winelands.
What you need to know…
- There is no pool at the cottage. The main homestead does have a pool which is available on request only.
- Tennis is also available by arrangement.
- If you have an extra child in your party it is possible for a single bed to be popped into the dressing room of the main bedroom.
Reviewed by Paul Duncan