Brian Berkman stays at Africa’s first bike hotel to explore the Groenland mountains.
The stars to consider here are the ones that illuminate the dark skies in this apple, pear and wine-grape growing region in South Africa’s Western Cape. Trail’s End, Africa’s first dedicated lodging for cyclists, trail runners and outdoorsy-types, offers scrupulously clean and comfortable accommodation for a range of users.
Share a dorm-style room with family and friends, have your own large room with a King-size bed and vast bathroom with a walk-in shower or any combination of the above. This is one of the reasons that the Tourism Grading Council, the local authority that awards “hotel stars” lists Trail’s End as Speciality Lodging.
When owners Pieter Silberbauer and Johannes Mathewson decided to close their renowned timber-house building business, Rustic Homes and retire, they wondered what they might do with their factory and timber-storage shed, set in a large forested property.
Pieter’s daughter suggested a venture that would support their passion – Mountain Biking and Trail Running. The Elgin/Grabouw area has gained international prominence as the location for the global Xterra and South Africa’s Epic, the pre-eminent MTB endurance multi-stage race. Set in the Groenland Mountains, part of the protected Kogelberg Biosphere famed for its fynbos flower-kingdom, nature-lovers make a bee-line for this region.
Although the focus at Trail’s End is on bikes and cyclists, there is a 20-meter two-lane lap-pool for training. If you prefer to train for triathlons in open water, The Elgin Grabouw Country Club and its vast dam, is within walking distance. There is a swim coach on the team, a wellness centre, a physiotherapy clinic and chiropractic clinic run by champion runner Dr Chad Gordon.
Also on the premises is the Declan O’Malley Flow Trail which includes sharp drop-offs, switchbacks and bridges on which to practice. There’s also a professionally designed mini pump track. Of course, a lodge aimed at the healthy lifestyle will have stationary bikes, free weights, a climbing wall, yoga and pilates sessions too. Trail’s End is also the starting point for the 5km Saturday Parkrun – a global, free-to-enter run/walk.
The drawback to the upstairs accommodation is that sound rises from the communal dining and lounging area which are warmed by two wood-burning fireplaces. If you are a light sleeper or an early-to-bed-early-to-rise type like many guests, remember to bring ear-plugs along.
Interiors are in hewn timber and the exterior of the building is clad in trendy and energy-efficient zinc-alum. There’s a strong Scandi influence in the look and feel and when sitting around the fire pit in the courtyard one could easily imagine oneself not in Africa but rather in a high-end Swedish forest spa.
Aside from the many nearby wineries (Oak Valley and Paul Cluver Estates most notable among them) the direct neighbour is Oude Molen Cape Brandy distillery which dates back to 1910 and is frequently showered with awards for its “Cognac-style” VSOP.
Although one-hour from Cape Town, this region is fast becoming a tourism hot spot of its own. The recent opening of the Railway Market, a food, wine and lifestyle emporium on Saturdays set in a transformed railway shed nearby, is a must-visit. A little further afield, the Canola fields and hot-water springs of the greater Overberg region or whale-watching in Hermanus, are accessed in about 45-minutes.
A “Continental” breakfast is offered in your accommodation rate but their delicious omelette is worthy of a special order along with many cups of Barista-made coffee. Dinners and lunches are available to order.
Tell Me More About Trail’s End Bike Hotel
Trail’s End Bike Hotel, Worcester Road, Grabouw, Western Cape, South Africa 7180
T: 00 27 21 859 5193 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We were in Room 13 which accommodates two at R1300 (about £72) per night but, for example, Room 6 accommodates four people in bunk-style beds for R1400 (about £78) while Room 8 sleeps six people at R2100 (about £116).