By The Way Guesthouse, Clarens

King-size bed in the Moss room. Credit: By The Way Guesthouse

I’m a little bit scared of guesthouses…

Perhaps it’s because I’ve stayed in one too many where the room is cluttered full of the owner’s old, unwanted and mismatched furniture, or because many seem to be a last-ditch attempt to make a bit of extra cash in small towns where opportunities are few and far between.

Fortunately, By The Way Guesthouse in Clarens completely shatters these stereotypes.

Tastefully decorated, immaculately clean and impressively spacious, the nine rooms offer simple self-catering facilities (big fridges, microwave, kettle and washing up station) and are situated within a five- to ten-minute walk from the town centre.

We stayed in the two-sleeper Moss room, which included a king-size bed, cute balcony, comfy couch, flat-screen television with DStv, fast and free Wifi, fireplace and small kitchen table; while our friends were in the four-sleeper Pebble room.

We happened to be there for a mountain bike event, and the manager, Amy could not have been more accommodating. Not only did she give us the go-ahead to store our bulky bikes up in our rooms, but she also delivered breakfast baskets to our door the evening before, featuring pastries, muesli, yoghurt and proper filter coffee, so that we could eat early enough to make it to the start line in time for the race. Also, she had booked all her cycle event guests for a late check-out, so that we could freshen up before hitting the road back to Jo’burg at the end of the weekend.

All of this was done before we even had the chance to ask – a rare example of personalising your offering to your guests’ needs, when so often it feels like it’s the other way around!

She had also arranged for each of us to receive a voucher pack which included a free beer at the must-visit Clarens brewery, complimentary coffees at the Highlander and discounts at a few other establishments in town.

The only slight negative is the guesthouse’s location near the main road, which wasn’t noisy enough to bother us, but may not be the rural setting some may be after. Also, they don’t allow guests under the age of 16.

Rates start from R450 per person, including breakfast. You can check out their details here.