Phileas French

Travel Writer

Phileas French

Phileas French

Travel Writer | Exploring every country in the world, one adventure at a time

Great Hoteliers’ Stories: The Guineafowl Guest House

View from the cottage overlooking the pool area

This will form the first in a returning series of pieces about compelling places to stay with particularly interesting narratives or attributes attached to them.

Through a new acquaintance I have made, with Hilton Doyle, I have been finding out more and more about a very characterful spot: the Guineafowl Guest House, which has a lovely situation near to the World Acclaimed Garden Route in the Western Cape Province of Southern Africa. I’ve enjoyed learning about the culture and ambience of a region I am, sadly, not very familiar with yet.

Hilton and his wife are the proud owners of Guineafowl Guest House. It is based in the quaint rural hamlet of Albertinia, a village whose name is derived from a pastor who preached to the congregation there almost a century ago. Guineafowl Guest House is a quiet cul-de-sac at the bottom end of town, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy main N2 freeway leading to Cape Town in one direction and, in the other, Mossel Bay, the Gateway and beginning of the Garden Route.

Albertinia’s odyssey as a town began more than 100 years ago as a typical “Platteland Town” (Flatland Town). Even today, Albertinia is a small rural town which serves a very big farming community.

The first preacher travelled determinedly between Riversdale to Albertinia each Sunday to deliver his sermon and his name was “Albertyn”, of Dutch origin; hence the name Albertinia. The surrounding farmers needed to find a place both of worship and also for families to meet and congregate. The distance in between farms was extensive, and the only means of transport to and from was on horseback or wagon. When the appointed committee chose the spot for the church, they had to consider water, essential for the cattle sheep and horses, and high ground, as it needed to be a guiding beacon visible from a long way around. When finally they found an appropriate spot, the farmer was approached and asked for a donation of land to erect the church.  Further farmers’ donations founded the completion of the project.

The need of accommodation arose when aged parents wanted to retire near their place of worship. Farms were rarely sold, as the oldest sons invariably took over the land. The farmer was then approached for the purchase of more farmland to construct housing for the aged and a construction of a school so that children could be educated while living with their grandparents. This is how tourist sleepovers like the Guineafowl Guest House came into being. The guest house’s region is the semi-arid “Klein Karoo”, known as the breadbasket of South Africa. Whilst the main staple is wheat, game farming and ostrich, sheep and dairy/cattle farming are also very important.

Guineafowl is a typical Cape Style working farmhouse, refurbished for the comfort and wellbeing of the guests who stay in order to experience colonial food and a working South African house hold. You can hear the mechanical clanking of the resident Guineafowl clattering noisily at the kitchen door for breakfast, or the raucous crowing of the Cape Francolin calling for its breakfast, alongside the myriad wildlife greeting the morning dawn. You can wash off a hard day’s driving in the spacious, sparkling pool, and spend the night in the comfort of one of the suites. Guineafowl offers a shuttle service between destinations anywhere in the Western Cape, as well as an airport pick-up service and tour guides if required.
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Monday, 27 January 2020