About the Hotel
Known by names like Santos Express Train, Santos Express Train Lodge Hostel, Santos Express Train Lodge Hostel Mossel Bay, and simply “The Train” by the locals, the Santos Express is a grand, novel hotel offering a special, unique experience to guests. It is located at the Blue Flag Santos Beach, Mossel Bay along South Africa’s Garden Route.
It’s no wonder people want to visit the Garden Route, with a plenty of beaches splayed across the coast, beautiful lagoons and lakes inland, and mountain ranges like the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma ranges splitting Garden Route from Little Karoo. No wonder people want to visit Mossel Bay, and choose The Santos Express Train! Let’S tell you more about the fabulous history of this concept hotel, its inimitable architecture, and more.
The seaside town Mossel Bay is halfway between Cape Town and the Port Elizabeth. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in South Africa, attracting thousands of visitors each year. During the busiest time of the year (December to January), the town expects about 50,000 to 60,000 visitors per night. It’s a stopping point for several major road transport operators for this region. The Garden Route expands along from Mossel Bay to the Storm River.
Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to sail into Mossel Bay on February 3rd, 1488. Stranded there due to a storm on his way to India, Dias wound his way around the Cape (later came to be known as Cape of Good Hope) and the remaining vessels sought sanctuary in the Mossel Bay. One of the sailors hung a letter within a sailor’s boot in a huge milkwood tree. This tree is over 800 years old and is one of the many attractions of The Santos Express.
Mossel Bay owes its name to the days of late 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1595, Cornelius de Houtman named it Mosselbaai because of the abundance of mussels and oysters on the shores while his crew struggled to survive, stranded in those days.
The Santos Express Train Lodge has 34 rooms arranged over 7 cars, 4 of which are identical, with 5 sections 2-4 sleepers, 2 with 1-2 sleepers, a shower and two toilets. The 5th car is with 16-bed dorms and a suite room with its balcony called the Caboose. The remaining coaches are the Royal Ladies, 2 suites in every car with a massive bed, en-suite bathroom, and a spectacular balcony facing the Munro Bay. The Santos also has wooden coaches built in 1919 and 1921, called The Royal Suites, which have a colonial air to them and have authentic wood furnishing. Transported by boat from England to South Africa, they were part of a luxury rail company until they joined The Santos Express Train Lodge fleet in December 2013, upon which the crew renovated them so they could be accessible to the guests. They are now so popular that they made a TV appearance.
The rooms are immaculately clean and aseptic to provide the best stay experience to the guests, in propriety with cleanliness. The train’s façade looks rather nondescript, giving it the air of a simple train, but don’t let that fool you. Upon entering the train, you will notice an entirely different world that will sweep you off your feet with its elegance and beauty. The Santos Express Train gives the experience of a hotel in a train, and it capitalizes this in every part of the stay, in the way the rooms are designed to look elegant while maintaining the aesthetic of a train, the furniture that is comfortable and retains the air and presence of train fittings.
The beds are of a smooth wooden make, and are propped against the train’s walls. The ocean has a wonderful lulling sound with a fantastic view. While the beds are large, the cars of the train are spacious enough to give ample room for moving around, never letting you feel cramped. The quilts are made from soft, white cotton, making sleep inviting. The dorm beds are double-bunked, with ample room for the lower and the upper sections. The bathrooms are sanitary, with metal sinks and ceramic bathtubs.
The Santos Express attracts backpackers from across the globe, because of its unique concept of facilitating accommodation in a train!
The Mossel Bay area where The Santos Express Train runs, earning a Guinness World Record for it, has a moderate and pleasant climate. The average temperature in the area is always between 16 to 28 degrees Celsius. Even on the warmest days, a soft gust graces the bay, keeping the weather cool for the guests.
The Santos Express offers top-class services, with a free continental breakfast at their restaurant or out on their sun decks. The restaurant, called the Fork and Train, overlooks the magnificent view of the beach, the Indian Ocean beyond, and mountain ranges out in the distance, an instant attraction for the elderly and the young. The restaurant specializes in seafood and traditional food, but also offers burgers, ribs, pizzas, steaks, pub-lunches and also caters for private parties, weddings, and functions.
The train is close to the centre of the town with stores and harbours, and shopping centres. The Diaz Museum is at a walking distance from the train, and there are two hospitals within a kilometre. Mossel Bay is a distinguished repository of South African Rock Art, with specimens as old as 27,000 years. Mossel Bay even has its own Yacht and Boat Club. Nestled in the bosom of all this is the Santos Express Train.
The staff of The Santos is amicable and accommodating, with great enthusiasm and interpersonal skills. The staff members are available on the boat, ready to make all sorts of travel arrangements, such as shark cage diving, whale watching (boat-based), bird watching, tennis, cycling, fishing, swimming, skydiving, game-drives, surfing, scuba diving, parasailing, snorkelling and quad biking on nearby game farms. Wine tasting is also available and there is a gourmet restaurant. Furthermore, they can arrange bungee jumping, museum tours, and pleasure boat trips to some of the islands.
The Santos Express Lodge has free Wi-Fi in all the public areas, and there’s plenty of room available for secure parking, computer stations, a meeting room and conference facilities. They also provide tours/ticket assistance, dry cleaning/laundry services and can arrange wedding ceremonies.
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How to Book:
You can book a stay at The Santos Express via their official website or through travel or vacation agencies. Before that, here’s some vital info for you to consider, so that your stay at this terrific concept hotel s more enjoyable for you.
- Group accommodation can be negotiated for special prices, but that’s usually contingent on the size of the group, time of the year and the like. It would be best to contact the Santos Express team to book a group special.
- The free breakfast comprises of coffee or tea, a mix of cereals and milk, fruit juices, fresh fruits, fruit salad, toasted bread with butter, jam and the like. You can also choose your pick from the à-la-carte menu any time of the day.
- While the languages most spoken in Mossel Bay are Afrikaans and Xhosa, the staff members of The Santos Express are proficient in English, so guests from all over the world do not experience any hiccups.
- There’s a conference room at the hotel, which you can use for meetings, family get-togethers, and is even an option for organizing events like weddings.
- Wi-Fi connectivity might not be great; check with the hosts if that’s important, so that they can put you in rooms where the signal is good.
- Carry your sleeping kit (ear plugs, especially) because the sound isolation between adjacent compartments is not too great.
- It’s a hostel; don’t expect the facilities of a hotel. Carry your own towel!
- Santos Express Train Lodge doesn’t allow pets on-board.
The Mossel Bay is a splendid vacation place, with its exotic beaches, fantastic views, and The Santos Express Train Lodge is a truly unique stay experience that makes people wish to return. For anybody looking for an affordable, memorable, and fulfilling beachfront accommodation near Mossel Bay, The Santos Train Lodge is the best of all worlds.