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10 Cheap and Chic Budget Getaways

In my early twenties my friends and I would jet off to a farm or beach side va-cay for some much-needed R&R and bonding at least twice a year. As every long weekend approached we were practically giddy with glee and would spend months saving and planning to kick off our shoes, float blissfully on a rubber duckies and shake off the year’s stresses. I don’t know what we were escaping from since we were plump and rosy with youth and our only worries were our imminent thirties. As we got older and our lives moved into different directions with careers and families, my hubby and I tried our best to stick to the twice a year break, but when you have kids and a bond and car payments and school responsibilities, that dream moves from twice a year to twice a decade.

Recently, we spent a blissful weekend at Aloe Ridge in Swellendam to reconnect, unplug and unwind. It was pure heaven. Refreshing dips in the icy Breede River, cocktails by the pool and cuddles by a cosy, crackling fire at night. We spent so much time just chatting, about things outside of work and family life and somehow became the two 20-somethings, dizzy with love – schedule and responsibility free. So, naturally we vowed to make this break from our fast-paced lives a bi-monthly extravagance. I say ‘extravagance’ because anything that allows you so much free time feels like a decadent luxury – a sinfully indulgent dessert with gooey dark chocolate, shaved truffles and champagne sorbet. But surprisingly, the price was anything but extravagant.

So here are 10 cheap-as-chips luxury breaks that you can start planning now – all under R500 per person, and starting from R125 per person per night. Please confirm with the establishment since rates do change from season to season.

  1. Aloe Ridge, Swellendam

Midweek from R495 pp per night per couple
or R247.50 pp for 4 people

Aloe Ridge is a range of five self-catering lodges perched on a hill overlooking the majestic Breede River. It’s the perfect little getaway for families, friends and couples alike looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city while still offering all the luxurious comforts the city has to offer. Every bedroom offers an en-suite bathroom, one even sports an outdoor shower, and plush linens and towels are abundant. There are tons to do – from abseiling to river rafting, hiking, stargazing, birdwatching, mountain biking and fishing to name a few.

Why I love it: sundowners on the deck as you watch the sunset is simply everything!


2. Lazy Leopard, Rheenendal
This is the perfect group getaway
From R400 pp per night

Situated just off the scenic Rheenendal country road, Lazy Leopard offers three very appealing options: two romantic ‘bush huts’ called Forest Moon and Starry Forest and the larger Blue Hills Cottage

Forest Moon and Starry Forest are open-plan, with queen-size beds, mini kitchens and bathrooms encased in glass. Added to the mix in each is a fireplace and TV with DVD player (no SABC reception here), which means you won’t be deprived of any familiar home comforts. 

True to name, Forest Moon nestles at the edge of the forest, while Starry Forest is perched near the cliff edge with a view over the unspoilt indigenous valley.  It’s a short stroll through the forest to a lovely swimming pool and amazing view. 

Moving along a bit, Blue Hills Cottage sits alone above a contorted valley of thick forest. 

Why I love it: An open fireplace and many other wholesome touches contribute to its relaxed country persona. 


3. A Hilltop Country Retreat, Swellendam
From R427.50 per person (for two)

Situated in Swellendam, Hilltop Country Retreat offers 6 rooms and 2 homes with accommodation for 20 guests. Each room is spacious and luxurious, with a gorgeous patio to enjoy boardgames, a glass of red or white and hours of fun with family and friends.  

Egyptian cotton is the order of the day – perfect for lazy mornings to sleep in. Guests are allowed to pick their own fresh produce to cook themselves or have the friendly staff create gorgeous cuisine at the local restaurants. The fridge is stocked with breakfast ingredients such as bacon, tomatoes, roosterbrood, butter, muesli and yoghurt to devour on the divine patio, as well as tea and coffee.

Why I love it: I cannot think of a better spot to dive into a good book than the stretching green lawns around the property.


4. Snyderskloof Karoo Cottage, Matjiesfontein
From R290 pp per night (R1450 split between 6 guests)

I am a sucker for nature and a stone cottage. So, straight from the budget-getaways website:

“Snyderskloof has got it all. No electricity, beautiful surroundings and very romantic. It’s going to knock your veldskoene right off. 

The huge 1700ha farm is set among gentle hills and big skies, 24km from Matjiesfontein; besides a perfect setting for contemplative navel-gazing it also holds plenty in the way of activity to keep the urban cold turkey at bay: hiking up the mountain to spot resident klipspringer and varied birdlife; trekking into the kloofs, mountain biking to Matjiesfontein for your breakfast), lolling around on the deck, dipping into the pool…
Chances are the lure of the cottage will have you abandoning any thought of physical activity that involves anything more than a braai tong and corkscrew. 

The interior is tastefully decorated in an eclectic mix of antique furnishings and vibrant fabrics offset against raw stone walls. 
There are two bedrooms, fitted with crisp white linen in the living room for your spillover. A communal bathroom (with shower that looks onto the surrounding mountains). The living room is a cozy hub with built-in fireplace, oil lamps and candles – there’s no electricity, which is how we hope they keep it. The open-plan kitchen sits alongside and is equipped with gas cooker and fridge freezer. 

Why I love it: Heading out to the deck, this overlooks the swimming pool, braai lapa and gobsmacking Karoo outlook. Just imagine those night skies…


5. Suikerbossie Guest Farm (Campsite)
R165 – R400 pp

Suikerbossie may not be your 5 or even 3-star accommodation facility but more than makes up for it with sensational scenery and adventure-packed activities. Situated in a wild and craggy region, it’s envied among locals for its gushing rock pools and waterfalls. Complementing the pristine setting are 18 camp sites, all virtually in the water and two of them equipped. It’s perfect for the adventure seeker. Suikerbossie offers good odds on spotting duiker, klipspringer, baboon, and maybe even a leopard. There are several walking trails in the area, among them a donkey trail that was used in the old days to transport wheat down the mountain. A super new 4×4 route has now been opened and there are tubes and boats for hire.


6. Hornbill, Magaliesberg

The perfect family getaway
From R400 pp (for two, including breakfast)

Luxury accommodation amidst the scenic and peaceful surroundings of the Riverine Forest on the banks of the Magalies River, nestled between the mountains, Hornbill Lodge and Legends offers something to suit travellers of all leanings.

Six luxurious, fully air conditioned suites offer comfortable accommodation, perfectly complemented by the beautiful surroundings which are home to 180 different bird species, as well as a variety of smaller game and butterflies attracted by the Magalies River.

When they’re not kicking back in their suites, travellers can enjoy the beautiful surroundings during a tranquil walk, cool down in the kiddies pool or large swimming pool, or try their hand at fishing.

Why I love it: Magaliesberg offers horse riding, quad biking, helicopter rides and spa treatments in the area.


7. Libertas Guest Farm
Another ideal family getaway
R125 – R250 pp – cottages start from R1000 per cottage but can be split between 4-8 guests.

It’s hard to say what’s more appealing at Libertas: the superb accommodation, the breathtaking landscape, or the long list of action-packed activities on tap.

Let’s kick off with the accommodation, which now comes in five forms: The beautifully renovated and character-packed old homestead sleeping 10, The Dairy, a contemporary six-sleeper bearing little resemblance to it’s bovine origins, and not forgetting the three latest additions, Friesland, Ayrshire & Jersey cottages.

Kicking off with the main homestead, with its cement screeded floors, raw timber, earthy fabrics, original yellowwood beams and ceilings, oodles of space and country views, this is the perfect spot for that large family gathering.

You’ll find 100% percale bedding, nogal, grand bathrooms and a farm-style kitchen and stoep overlooking the Outeniqua mountains. It also sports an outside braai with gorgeous mountain vistas.

Why I love it:  It’s the ideal family getaway. The lawned expanse around all the houses is built for the kids to run wild. There are swings in the old gum trees nearby, and a volleyball court near the old homestead.


8. Platbos Suites
From R262.50pp for 4 guests
From R425 pp for 2 guests

Probably my favourite spot of the lot, Platbos offers a selection of cabins in a magical starry skied forest setting. It’s eco meets glamping and ideal for people looking to unplug and live off the grid for a while. Private, tented accommodation or log cabins, open air showers are there to help you become one with nature or return to your blissful self.

Why I love it: There’s a beautiful wood-fired hot tub for the exclusive use of our Honey Bee Suite guests – nuff said. Immerse yourself in the forest – as you gaze up through the trees to the African skies beyond. Pure bliss!


9. Ezingweni Safari Lodge, Limpopo
From R280 per night (for two people – so R140 each!)

I had to double check on a few sites whether that price is correct – it seemed too good to be true! Ezingweni Safari Lodge and Day Bush Spa is nestled in the Waterberg region of Limpopo. The area is an enchanting landscape of largely undiscovered mountain vistas, deep gorges, ancient rock art, clear streams, and rolling savannah, all rich in indigenous plant life, birdlife, and wildlife – including the Big Five.

Accommodation is offered in a choice of 12 self-catering units or the campsite. It is ideally suited for couples, families, or a group of friends seeking a tranquil bushveld getaway. Most of the units have private splash pools that can be heated at an extra cost. There are braai areas and access to well-equipped kitchenettes. Guest can enjoy a game drive in the morning and spa treatments in the afternoon, delicious meals at the restaurant and refreshing drinks at the bar.

Why I love it: Spa treatments – need I say more?


10. Petersfield Mountain Cottages
From R200 pp

I have been trying to book Petersfield Mountain Cottages and it remains one of those elusive treasures because of its popularity.

Both Dassieklip Luxury Farm Cottage and De Kom Mountain Cottage have become something of legends on the self-catering map – thanks in no small part to a mix of great setting, attention to detail, and a professional (yet relaxed) host. So successful has this formula proved to be that two further options, called Die Veepos and Stonehaven, have recently joined the duo. Set on a working citrus and rooibos estate just outside Citrusdal, all four cottages are gems. Here you’ll find shady stoeps, undercover braais and shimmering plunge pools.


Copia Luxury Eco Cabins

From R825 pp

As with all my fashion posts, I always end with a  ‘dream’ item. The one that tugs at your heart is often a little more lavish in terms of spending, but will be worth it in the end – this one is perfect when you’ve been lucky enough to receive a bonus at work or have saved up for a few weeks. All cabins are perfectly suited for two adults with one King-size XL bed with premium bed linen. They supply all the luxuries you’ll need during your stay, including towels, cutlery, crockery & braai equipment, with ample wood for the fireplace and a wood-fired hot tub to soak in. Or, cuddle in front of the indoor fireplace during winter, when the weather acts up. With contemporary interior design, soft lighting & great attention to detail, they’ve transformed and up-cycled old shipping containers into unique self-catering, eco cabins. With limited reception on the farm, no WiFi in the cabin, your getaway to Copia Eco Cabins is the perfect excuse to connect with your partner over a glass of wine whilst the sun is setting in the distance.


Excuse me, while I book my next trip…


  1. Adrienne says

    Looooved these suggestions. I will definitely be making use of this list. With or without baby, the break is MUCH needed and now thanks to this it’s much more attainable!

    • Two Babes says

      Glad we could help, Adrienne. Hope you’ll spoil yourself real soon.
      Two Babes

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