One of my fondest memories of growing up in the Garden Route was that of my darling grandparents spoiling my mom, sister and I for a Sunday drive out to and lunch at the beloved 8 Bells Mountain Inn.
Bearing in mind that it was well over 20 years ago, after my recent stay here, I am pleased to report that this 4* rated Hotel is still going strong. Although under new ownership and management, 8 Bells has maintained their reputation as a charming retreat offering warm country hospitality, friendly service, family-orientated facilities and cosy, affordable accommodation all in a picturesque setting. It’s great how some things never change!
Situated at the foot of the Robinson Pass, on the R328 between Mossel Bay & Oudtshoorn, it’s a leisurely 40 minute drive from Mossel Bay and 50 minutes from the ‘Ostrich Capital of the World’. This central location makes 8 Bells the ideal stop-over for anyone travelling between the Garden Route coastline and Klein Karoo, alternatively just a destination within itself ever popular among South Africans.
Furthermore, 8 Bells is also renowned for various outdoor activities & facilities offered on their 400-acre private estate. These include (get ready…the list is long!!):
- Horse riding
- Walking trails
- Bicycle trails (bring own bikes!)
- Swimming pool (with ones specially dedicated to kiddies)
- Tennis courts
- Squash courts
- Volleyball courts
- Bowling Green (attracts both international & local clubs on tournament)
- Kiddies playground (we loved the tractor and sandpit!)
- Children’s play room
- Teen’s games room with snooker/pool & table tennis
- Adult’s Billiards Room
- Garden Terrace, where granny, gramps and mom would enjoy post-Sunday-Buffet-tea whilst keeping an eye on us youngsters playing nearby
You can read more about 8 Bells on our official listing page. Click here
Getting back to the reason why I actually write blog posts: To tell you, my valued readers and (hope to confirm a booking here) travellers, about my first-hand ‘educational visit’ experience. So here goes…
It was a cloudy day but not even the prediction of 80% of rain could damper the excitement to experience 8 Bells all over again, after years bygone.
After spending a day rushing around on site inspections in the Mossel Bay vicinity, heading out to this secluded Mountain Inn was the perfect re-treat from the hustle & bustle of urban life.
Arriving just after 5pm, I was given a warm welcome by the reception staff, shortly thereafter (staying true to efficient service) a porter ushered me to my private Swiss Village Cabin. Set near the bottom of the estate, it was the epitome of peace & tranquility. I couldn’t have asked for any better!
Homely with a modern yet intimate ‘Out of Africa’ décor, I immediately kicked off my shoes and took a breather, soaking up the magnificent mountain views from the comfort of my luxurious bed. Happiness is…
Waking up from the day-dream daze, it was time to freshen up for pre-drinks in the Bosuns Whistle Pub, followed by a delectable dinner in the elegant Oak Room Restaurant.
I decided to make that a very leisurely OBS (Old Brown Sherry), migrating from the Pub to the adults lounge adjacent, reclining next to the crackling fireplace. Considering the wet weather outside, this was the place to be. There was no rush at all, something that tends to happen when visiting this hotel: time just doesn’t seem to matter! However, when my tummy didn’t want to stop rumbling, I decided to satisfy it by taking a seat at the beautifully appointed dinner table.
NOTE: A nice little touch is the dining table assigned to every guest/room, where you are placed at all meal times. It somehow adds a sense of comfort, knowing that this is your ‘place’.
The menu had everything on offer, from fresh ‘Catch of the Day’ fish (sourced from local fishermen in Mossel Bay), to Ostrich Steaks (sourced from their local butcher in Oudtshoorn). We loved the fact that they’ve been using the same preferred & trusted suppliers year-after-year, supporting locals, staying true to the proudly South African expression ‘Local is Lekker’. They also have an on-site vegetable patch & herb garden from which they source fresh produce as far as possible. Fantastic!
I decided on the Cape Malay Chicken Curry accompanied by a glass of (also local Cape) wine. I must have been feeding my nostalgia for Cape Town?! The meal was extremely delicious and filling and I have to admit, the rates most impressive! Nowhere else can one get such a hearty portion for a mere R 65. Extremely reasonable, as are all their meals.
Walking away with a belly full for under R100 (inclusive of the bar tab) I was happy to return to my room for a good night’s rest, falling asleep to nothing but the sound of crickets and frogs outside the Cabin. Ahhh…
I awoke to a crisp, fresh morning: the clouds slowly lifting off the mountain peaks, birds happily tweeting in the lush gardens and horses grazing in the nearby paddocks. It’s so wonderful being here!
Breakfast is usually served outside in the Garden Terrace, however, with the last raindrops still falling, we enjoyed it in the restaurant. Again, a delectable feast consisting of a full buffet followed by an A la Carte hot meal on order. Great kick-start to the day!
Soon thereafter I met with the owner, Rene, who showed me around his lovely, sprawling estate and educated me on the fascinating history of 8 Bells Mountain Inn. It dates back to more than 80 years ~ read more here
After viewing the various room categories, facilities and amenities, I got a great idea of what clientele 8 Bells is best suited for: In all honesty, it’s for everyone! From families with children (babies through to teenagers) to Honeymoon & other couples, large groups and even small groups of friends and family travelling together, also perfect for senior travellers, with wheel-chair facilities for those in need. For those wanting to go on a safari, but stay at an affordable accommodation nearby, 8 Bells is a superb choice. Botlierskop & Nyaru Game Lodge are both literally down the road; Buffelsdrift is within easy reach too!
There are 4 Room Categories in total, each separate:
Pool Terrace: Thatched Family Suites (two interleeding rooms), ideal for families with young children. Additional thatched Rondavels are great for couples as they’re set apart.
Rose Court: North-facing Rooms, quiet and in close proximity to the dining and other communal areas, make it perfect for senior guests. Additional thatched Rondavels.
Palm Court: Spacious thatched Rooms, centered around a pretty garden. Each opens onto an enclosed and private sun patio, with some being wheel-chair friendly. Ideal for senior or long-staying guests, also families.
Swiss Village: Timber Log Cabins with the best mountain views and most privacy, making them perfect for honeymoon and other couples. 1 Family Cabin with 2 bedrooms and lounge, best suited for families with older children.
Each is tastefully decorated with added luxuries expected from their 4* rating, such as flat screen TV’s, underfloor heating and aircon (cabins) / fans (other).
It needs to be mentioned that 8 Bells does their bit for the local community: uplifting, educating and empowering. All their staff are from the surrounding areas, currently employing the 4th generation of a family group that has been with the Inn since its inception. They also support the local farm school and have even built a soccer field for all the enjoy. In addition to this, 8 Bells has a ‘Green Matters’ Policy, implementing environmentally aware and friendly practices throughout their operation i.e. water pumped using an old Lister Motor from a mountain stream nearby, eradicating the invading Black Wattle trees and using the wood for fireplaces, also instead of geysers making use of two traditional donkey boilers, plus so much more. Double thumbs up!!!
FACT: More than 60% of 8 Bells guests are repeats, many of them having visited as children only to return years later with their children and later on, with their grandchildren. #truestory #icanvouchforthat I’ll gladly be part of this statistic ~ 8 Bells is one of those places you’ll never tire of returning to again and again…
Thanks for having me, 8 Bells Mountain Inn. It’s been most delightful! Here’s to 80 more years of great success and happy guests 🙂