We booked The Country House based on staying at the fantastic Hunter's Gorah Elephant Park, which is truly outstanding and a 5 star experience in every way. We were recommended to what was originally called Hunter's Country House where the web site shows a superb picture of dining in the grounds, and states: "An old world ambiance permeates the thatched Manor House with its antique furnished lounges, candle lit dining rooms and sun drenched conservatory". Excuse me, but there is no longer dining in the Manor House, but instead you walk 5-10 minutes on a poorly signposted walk way to Zinzis, the nearby restaurant, which in our experience was very variable. Although the grounds are attractive, there are no views and some road noise in the early morning.
We suspected something had changed when looking out for the signpost to the hotel from the busy N2, it read "Hunters" and "Tzala Lodge" but no mention of "The Country House". So we drove past and then turned back and went in to find that Hunter's Country House had become The Country House, Tzala Lodge was close by to the right and Zinzis was a new restaurant built between the two Hunter's venues which now served them both as well as being open to the public.
What you have here are thatched cottages in the grounds of an old, very attractive Manor House. The cottages are very attractive, beautifully furnished in a traditional style, and ours had a plunge pool and welcoming plate of cheese and cold meets. The thatch had recently been replaced and there was a strong chemical smell, however, this was not a big issue. The bathroom was spacious and beautifully equiped.Then we found out at the registration about the changes, no dining in the Manor House and an honesty bar. This is such a shame as the lounges are beautiful but nobody uses them. In our experience the cottage in the grounds style of hotel only works if the mother ship is friendly and welcoming. Here you are unlikely to meet other guests as there are no no pre-dinner drinks, or after dinner coffee. Instead guests walk to Zinzis and go back to their cottage. Just not a very sociable or friendly experience.The Manor House has become a Marie Celeste.
The dining experience is variable. Breakfast is taken in a very large rather impersonal conservatory, which when we were there lacked atmosphere due to very few guests. The food was average. Zinzis was very disappointing on the first night, sole being replaced by ordinary yellow fin line fish, and the Persian chicken being tough and dry. The second night the food was excellent. Mussels in cream and steaks being a highlight. Overall, the staff try a bit too hard to please, but this is probably a settling in process, but it fails to find that special relaxed ambiance.
What I am sure used to be a very special hotel has really become a boutque B&B, and an expensive one at that. Similar accomodation was in our experience about half the price we paid at The Country House and just so disappointing as we know from our Gorah experience that this hotel group know how to get it absolutely right. Staff were generally helpful but seemed dispirited as several returning guests had reported the same problems. Probably as a result the hotel planned to shut in the winter, so hopefully things can change again by next summer?
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Fragrant and colorful, Hunter's luxuriant gardens create an idyllic setting for this opulent retreat in the heart of the Garden Route. Hunter's Country House combines gracious elegance with sheer comfort and impeccable service with warm hospitality. Far from the madding crowd, yet conveniently close to a wide variety of leisure activities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hunter`s Country House Hotel Harkerville
- Hunters Country Hotel
- Hunter's Country House South Africa/Harkerville