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Authentic Farm Living at Rivergate Guest Farm in Stanford

The term “hidden gem” gets tossed around often, but let me tell you, Rivergate Guest Farm in Stanford is the epitome of that label, at least for the moment.

Having opened their doors to the public just over a year ago, Rivergate is a well-kept secret waiting to be discovered. But mark my words, once more people experience the tranquility and charm of Rivergate, it won’t be long before there’s a line out the door, eager to secure a spot for a stay.

Nestled between the lush Overberg mountains and the tranquil Klein River, Stanford is a picturesque village that embodies rustic charm and tranquility. I have often driven through Stanford but never spent a meaningful amount of time there.

A few weeks ago, I went a spontaneous day trip to Stanford while staying in Pringle Bay and posted about my brief experience on social media. The following day, I received a welcoming message from the owners of Rivergate inviting us to come and visit. A quick peek at their website was all it took—I was instantly convinced.

That said, words can only do so much justice to Rivergate; it’s a place where every snapshot tells a story far more vivid than any description could capture. Allow me to be your guide through this picturesque paradise, one image at a time:

Rivergate Guest Farm is a family owned and operated farm-style getaway on the banks of the Klein River, just 2km from the Stanford town centre. The farm was purchased in 2020 and it took four years to bring the vision to life.

The first thing you will notice when arriving at Rivergate is the amazing attention to detail throughout the farm. You can see that the owners have put their heart and soul into this project, and they are very proud of the warm, welcoming atmosphere they’ve created.

Every corner of the farm tells a story, each setting is thoughtfully curated, reflecting their commitment to not only preserving the beauty of the natural landscape but enhancing it with touches that invite guests to feel right at home. I think they’ve absolutely NAILED IT!

Rivergate has seven immaculate self-catering cottages on the property, each with a well-equipped kitchen, patio area with built-in braai, wood-fired hot tub, indoor fireplace, and beautiful views of the garden and farm.

As they say on their website: “We like to think we’ve struck the perfect balance between rustic comfort and modern sophistication, ensuring a truly relaxing stay in your home-away-from-home in the Overberg.”

We stayed in the spacious double-story cottage called Gatehouse which has three en-suite bedrooms, a fully functional kitchen, a beautiful downstairs living room, patio area with built-in braai, wood-fired hot tub, and an upstairs balcony that overlooks the entire farm.

As soon as we checked in, we popped open a bottle of wine and relaxed on the upstairs balcony, soaking in the surroundings for a blissful hour. Next, we slipped into the hot tub to unwind even further for another luxurious hour.

It was finally time for us to make dinner. Nicole kept remarking how wonderful it is to prepare food in a well-equipped and thought-out kitchen. Once dinner was ready, we got to enjoy the fruits of Nicole’s labour on the downstairs patio, complemented by stunning views that stretched out before us.

Truly, it doesn’t get much better than that. Or does it?

Our cottage was directly facing the manicured garden which has been designed by renowned landscape architect, Franchesca Watson. At the centre of the design is a wide pond with a fountain which acts as a magnet for ducks and free-roaming dogs when they need to quench their thirst.

Not only does the garden captivate the eye but it also serves an important purpose – proudly providing fresh, sustainable, organic produce to the eatery located inside The Barn.

Speaking of which, each morning guests receive a farm fresh breakfast basket delivered to their cottage. You almost feel like a kid again as you get to open a new food present each morning.

At Rivergate Guest Farm, the chickens rule the roost! They also provide eggs daily with gorgeous orange yolks full of goodness. Rivergate uses these eggs in their breakfast baskets and sell them in the farm shop which is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10h00 to 15h00.

After a wonderful first night of rest, we woke up early enough on day two to watch the last of the sunrise and then put some shoes on to explore all that the farm had to offer. This is one of my favourite things to do when arriving at a new place.

It only took a few steps from our cottage before we encountered a bunch of friendly alpacas, free-roaming chickens and adorable miniature donkeys. We just couldn’t get enough of them and probably spent an hour making new friends.

Now that we had got our full farm fix, we decided to get showered and ready for the day so that we could pop into Stanford village to see what’s happening in town. A few hours later, we made our way back to Rivergate to eat some lunch at The Barn.

All I can say is, thank goodness we booked because there wasn’t a free seat in the house. We were so impressed by the quality of the food and personally, I think the prices are incredibly reasonable. I am a big fan of restaurants only having 4-5 items on the menu but absolutely nailing them. This was the case at The Barn.

Nicole ordered the grilled Kingklip which came on a bed of spiced masala butternut, served with lentil rice and topped with sambals. We were told that their fish order is timed so that it’s as fresh as you can get by the time it arrives on your plate.

On my end, I had their slow roasted crispy pork belly served with mustard mash, seasonal vegetables and a spiced pear puree. I have to add, this was probably the best pork belly I’ve ever had and the portion size was awesome. I tend to avoid ordering pork belly at restaurants because I’m still hungry at the end but I had seen other people order it as we walked in and knew I was in for a treat.

To give you perspective on price, Nicole’s Kingklip was R210 and my pork belly was R195. Price is always subjective but I think that is an absolute steal for the size and quality.

Just when I thought the lunchtime delight is over, a few miniature donkeys made their way inside The Barn for a surprise visit. What a beautiful experience it was to see the kids feeding the donkeys while the adults took a million pictures of the experience.

Apparently this happens every weekend near the end of the lunchtime serving. Again, I can’t overstate how much these wonderful these small touches add to the overall experience at Rivergate. It’s a big part of why I had to write this article and also why I think this place is going to blow up in popularity over the next year.

As we walked out of The Barn feeling incredibly satisfied, we thought to walk around the farm a bit more to settle our full tummies before going back to our cottage to relax.

One of the buildings we had missed on our early morning walk was the recently added “hot house” where Rivergate cultivates their own seedlings. Besides being incredibly beautiful, the purpose of this small building is so that they can keep indoor plants looking good for the cottages.

This is one of the many small touches I’m referring to.

It was finally time to head back to our cottage and relax for the rest of the evening. The joy we got to experience over the next few hours is hard to articulate.

It just doesn’t get better than jumping back into the hot tub, watching the most epic sunset, and finally relaxing on our patio before getting into bed early so we can do it all again the next morning. BLISS!

Just when you thought the weekend couldn’t get any better, we woke up on Sunday morning to a message from the owner asking if we’d like to join her on their barge for a river cruise. Who were we to decline this gracious offer?

For the next hour, we gently sailed up and down the Klein River while chatting about the farm and how wonderful Stanford is, all the while soaking up the tranquility and beauty of being on the water.

In the end, the only negative experience we had the entire weekend at Rivergate was having to pack up and leave. I always say, the best compliment I can pay any place we visit is that we will be back. I travel so much which makes it hard to return to most places but Rivergate is a farm that I will visit many times over.

As always, my hope is that this article will inspire you to act like a tourist in your own country. Rivergate is a truly special experience and I hope you take the time to visit before the crowds discover it.

But trust me when I say, it’s just a matter of time.

PS. Rivergate will be one of the properties listed on our new Like a Tourist booking platform that will be launching in September 2024! More about that here.

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