(note – we took so many beautiful photos at Antbear that I couldn’t make a small enough selection for this post. Please take some time to go through the mini galleries I created, as this place is truly something special and deserves to be seen!)
Our final stop on our getaway last week was Antbear Lodge – an eco-friendly and sustainable hotel in between Estcourt and the central Drakensberg. The lodge is run by owners Andrew and Conny (who we sadly didn’t get to meet at the time of our stay), and they go out of their way to employee and train local Zulu staff – providing jobs and a more responsible form of tourism than many other big franchises can offer.
The beautiful woodwork and stained glass designs are done by Andrew himself, his father and a few other artists – this place is exceptional, and like something out of Lord of the Rings.
Antbear Lodge has their own organic veggie garden, and most of the food eaten at the Lodge is either grown, produced or made from scratch on site. The jam we had at breakfast had been made the day before by the chef, the bread is baked from scratch, the milk is from the cows and the eggs were fresh from the chickens. All the herbs and veggies in our meals were grown there. Only at very busy times does Antbear outsource, and then always from local places.
The lovely Esme greeted us and guided us around the lodge and property for a tour, before leading us to our room – room 9, a Mountain View suite with a fireplace, snuggly bed and a jacuzzi spa-bath that we would have put to good use if we’d had more time. Complimentary cookies and sherry greeted us, as well as a tea and coffee station.
We browsed a good number of reviews prior to our stay, and what we repeatedly saw was high praise for the quality of service, the food and the atmosphere. One thing you must understand about bloggers like myself – often when we review accommodation, we receive a much higher level of service, because staff are informed about who we are and what we are there to do. So – when being hosted by a hotel, I don’t just pay attention to how myself and Hubby are treated. I keep a beady eye on how the other guests are enjoying their stay, and how the staff treat them.
I want to address the above and mention that all the incredible reviews we read about the exceptional service from the Antbear staff are 100% TRUE. Esme, the lovely lady who took care of us was fantastic. Not only did she keep checking that we were happy and comfortable, but she showed us the whole property and told us all about the events that Antbear hosts. We toured the pet-friendly rooms (you can bet we’ll be returning with Luna and SOON), and walked through the different types of accommodation that Antbear has to offer.
She also was very keen to help us organise a horse ride for the morning (something I’d normally LEAP at, but we had to head home earlier than we’d have liked – although we did see a family getting ready for a ride together in the late afternoon, and it looked great). On top of this, we watched her with other guests, and she was just as attentive towards them as she was with us. It’s very clear that she is passionate about Antbear Lodge and the guests that stay there, and she truly is a credit to the hotel. Another thing I was blown away by was the honesty bar – I’d never seen one, but you help yourself and tick off what you had on sheets available in the bar. You then pay on check out!
Another standout was Brad, the new chef at Antbear Lodge. He came out and introduced himself to us while we were enjoying a gin and tonic on the patio, and we had a long chat with him. He’s friendly, approachable and very passionate about his food. Everything is made from scratch at Antbear Lodge – the cheese, the butter, the yoghurt, the bread and the jam is all made by hand. We watched him in the afternoon picking the different herbs that would go into that night’s dinner, something we’ve never witnessed before. Not only this – but at dinner, Brad personally delivered each meal to the guests, spending time at each table laughing and chatting about anything and everything. Plus, his food was sensationally good – well made, beautifully cooked and presented and so delicious and wholesome. Brad – you somehow managed to make my soup-hating husband enjoy (and completely finish) a bowl of soup, and for this CONGRATULATIONS.
I would have loved to see the Luxury Cave accommodation, but sadly it was booked out for our stay. It’s apparently really something, as there are amazing reviews online, and a number of my followers actually messaged me saying they’d spent a few nights there for various holidays and they were completely wowed by it!
We were so completely and utterly wowed by Antbear Lodge. We knew we’d like it, but we never anticipated that we’d fall so head over heels in love with the property and the people. It’s a spot where you truly can relax and feel at home, you’re fed delicious country fare until you are ready to pop, and you can get out into the open air and decompress. I’ve not seen my husband that relaxed in a long time!
We are already dying to go back and really would love to take Luna with us, as we missed her terribly while we were away. I think if we can get her used to an extendable lead, she’d have an absolute ball in the grounds and on a hike or two. I just need to find her a nice jacket to keep her warm, as we’d love to head back in time for winter.
SPEAKING OF WHICH!
Antbear have an absolutely FABULOUS special on at the moment!
“Partner stays for free” – pay for 1 person (at the sharing rate) & 2 persons stay the night – minimum of 2 nights stay to qualify for this special.
Including dinner & breakfast for 2 persons, 2 nights = R2900 Garden View Suite
Including dinner & breakfast for 2 persons, 2 nights =R3700 Mountain View Suite
This special is on for the full months of May, June and July, and is fantastic value for money – a beautiful breakfast buffet and hot breakfast, as well as a 3-course meal at night! THIS is one of the many reasons why we’re trying to squeeze a return visit into our busy schedule!
You can view the full Antbear Lodge website HERE for more details.
Keep your eyes peeled for a vlog coming soon of our stay at Antbear!
*DISCLAIMER – while we were hosted by Antbear Lodge, all opinions were honest and my own*