If somebody had to ask me right now what my absolute favorite hotels are the first one on my list would be the three star Tsitsikamma Village Inn in Storms River Village. "Why?" I hear you ask. I absolutely love the hotel not just for one specific reason but because of the sum of a number of reasons. The hotel is situated in the heart of the beautiful Tsitsikamma, its a stone's throw from the indigenous Tsitsikamma forest with the stunning Tsitsikamma National Park just down the road, its surrounded by a variety of activities to do, the service is personal with hands on owners without being "in your face", the atmosphere laidback, the food is excellent and my favorite, the village like layout of the hotel with its spacious rooms and even more spacious surrounds.
Back in the days when elephants still roamed the forest freely, the woodcutters discribed in Daleen Matthee's book worked their hands to the bone to earn enough money for a bag of flower, coffee and sugar and ox wagons heading east still only travelled through the Langkloof, the Tsitsikamma was one big indigenous forest wedged between the mountains and the coastline. In 1841, Lt TH Duthie of Knysna established a shooting box in the Tsitsikamma to hunt the area's prolific wild pig population. The spoils of the hunt were taken back to Knysna by wagon where is was pickled and sold to ships. As the harvesting of trees expanded in the Tsitsikamma a milling operation was established with the manager of the Mill altering Duthie's Shooting Box as his residence in 1845.
In 1946 the new owner of the residence, a Mr Herring, partnered with a Mr Forster, a building contractor, and built a hotel on the site of the sawmill's house. This was the birth of the original Tzitzikama Forest Inn, situated right next to the dusty road which was the main route between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. During the early days most travellers stayed over at the Inn due to the strain all the passes in the area was taking on them, making it one of the main overnight spots along the route.
The hotel's dining area called De Oude Martha, the Hunters Pub (in the picture) and the guest lounge are all situated in what was the original sawmill house while the rest of the hotel as it is today was built in the 1980's and 1990's.
One of my favorite things of the hotel is that most of its 49 individually decorated rooms are built village style around the village green. The rooms are housed in cottages which are all built in different styles, including fishermen cottages from the West Coast, woodcutter cottages from the Knysna forest, a Cape Dutch style cottage, a Bo-Kaap cottage and a barn. All of this are surrounded by gardens and trees giving the hotel a true village within a village atmosphere. Add to the the good food that gets served and its surroundings then you can't ask for anything better.
On this specific trip Family Firefly stayed at the hotel for one night. We stayed in one of the fishermen cottage rooms which had a double bed (could have been queen size but I never really know which is which) and a single for Chaos Boy. They brought in a mattress for Drama Princess and even with all of that the room still had ample space to store our stuff and still have a running battle with the Kidz without falling over a suitcase. When we finally kicked them out the room to go and keep themselves busy they headed off to the games room at speed. The fact they they were running around outside and not up and down hotel passages also put me at ease as they wouldn't bother other guests (too much). A big plus. Another big advantage is being able to leave our car at the hotel and walk around the village as well as onto the forest trails. Not having to get into the car every time you want to do something adds to the relaxed holiday atmosphere.
Even though we didn't have dinner at the hotel I did have a peek at the plates going out to a couple of folk sitting outside the Hunter's Pub and it looked very good. What I can do is recommend the breakfast, although I would have liked a fried egg (probably should have asked). On par with the best I've had in big city hotels while the Damselfly is still talking about the croissants.
The hotel is ideal for couples, families and big groups giving each individual category of traveller exactly what they require. This wasn't the first time I've stayed at the Tsitsikamma Village Inn (more like the 4th) and it definitively won't be the last.
DISCLOSURE: We visited Storms River Village as part of a self drive family break away and stayed at the hotel as guests of the Tsitsikamma Village Inn. I was not paid to write this review and all my opinions are my own.