The Cape Winelands area of South Africa is a wonderful place to visit for an intimate gourmet meal or romantic couple of nights away to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a wedding anniversary, or a special birthday.
The mix of beautiful countryside, outstanding food and drink, and warm hospitality make this a firm favourite with both locals and visitors from overseas. In fact, many years ago, my wife and I spent our first wedding anniversary in Franschhoek whilst we were living in Cape Town and establishing our travel business. This place will always have a special place in our hearts, and these are a few of our favourite hotels and restaurants in the area.
Le Quartier Francais
Set in perfumed gardens with mountain views, Le Quartier Francais (the French Quarter) is a 32 room romantic boutique hotel situated in the village of Franschhoek, in the heart of the Cape Winelands. The emphasis here is on ultimate luxury and charm, combined with the priceless gift of privacy, tucked away in the centre of the village.
The sunny Garden Room is a beautiful, inviting space that opens up onto a manicured courtyard through wide glass doors. The renowned breakfast buffet is on offer from 07:00 to 11:00, so there’s no need to rush out of bed for fear that you’ll miss it! The breakfast buffet offers home-made granola and pastries, plenty of seasonal fruit, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, and infused teas.
The Bar at Le Quartier Francais is a trendy, sociable space with a wood-burning fireplace. Outside seating creates the perfect spot to relax over a drink and watch the activity on the main street. Savour signature craft gin cocktails or create your own G&T from the menu of delicious ingredients. There’s also a selection of classic cocktails, some with a unique contemporary twist, as well as delicious non-alcoholic versions.
For guests luck enough to be able to stay overnight, the sophisticated suites and rooms are located in peaceful scented gardens and feature the ultimate in luxury fittings, fabrics and finishes, complemented by artworks by local artists.
Set on the slopes of the majestic Klein Dassenberg Mountain Range, the 5* Mont Rochelle is a stunning 26 bedroom hotel and vineyard not far from Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek.
Unlike some other hotels in the area, Mont Rochelle is a working winery, and sixteen hectares of the 39 hectare farm is under vine and boasts several wine varieties. They offer daily activities including private wine tasting and cellar tours, as well as walking and mountain biking trails and horse-riding.
Dining at Mont Rochelle is memorable – whether it be fine gourmet cuisine or a simple sandwich, guests will not be disappointed in the quality of the food served. We would poarticularly recommend enjoying a romantic picnic on the estate – the kitchen can arrange a well-stocked picnic basket with a chilled bottle of wine or 2!
Lanzerac Hotel and Spa
Steeped in a history dating back to 1692 and nestled in the foothills of the idyllic Jonkershoek Valley of Stellenbosch, the 326 year old Lanzerac Wine Estate is the epitome of old-world charm and rich Cape heritage.
Just 5 minutes from the historic town of Stellenbosch, the estate boasts endless rows of lush vineyards, hectares of gardens shaded by giant oak trees, and is surrounded by the dramatic Helderberg mountains.
Home to the world’s first bottled pinotage, the range of award-winning wines maintain the excellent quality Lanzerac has become known for. Enjoy a guided tour of the working wine cellar, and a complimentary wine tasting either in the comfort of the well-appointed tasting room, or the veranda with views of the vineyards.
The hotel’s rooms, restaurants, bar, lounge and facilities are all located in the estate’s 300 year old Manor House and out-buildings, amidst 10 hectares of award-winning landscaped gardens featuring numerous ancient oaks, some over 160 years old.
Franschhoek Country House & Villas
Franschhoek Country House is an elegant 5* boutique hotel situated on the outskirts of the foody paradise of Franschhoek Village, and is well known for its excellent restaurant and luxurious rooms.
The acclaimed Monneaux Restaurant at Franschhoek Country House is considered among South Africa’s top restaurants, and serves an inspired contemporary take on the classics. This is where Tracey and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and it was one of the very best meals we have ever had in Franschhoek. Lunch is enjoyed on the fountain terrace under a spreading pepper tree while dinner is served in the elegant but relaxed dining room in the original manor house. Both settings are wonderfully romantic and complimented by outstanding food, and excellent service.
For guests able to stay overnight there is a choice of accommodation located inside the original country house building, or alternatively there are a number of luxurious villa suites set in the beautiful grounds of the property.
It is only a short walk from the hotel into the village where there are a wide range of bars, restaurants, delicatessens and other places to explore. Back at the hotel, there are 2 swimming pools for relaxing around after a day of sightseeing and wine tasting, and the spa offers a wide range of treatments including massages, reflexology, facials, manicures and pedicures.
Grande Roche Hotel
The celebrated 5* Grande Roche Hotel is a place where history interacts with modern comforts and where the atmosphere of a bygone era brings a sense of gracious, unhurried living.
The essence of the Grande Roche Hotel experience lies in the unique, individually named suites spread over landscaped gardens in the midst of a working wine farm with its inimitable style and unsurpassed excellence in service.A proud member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this is the ideal base from which to explore the Cape, relax at the pools, and amongst others, enjoy some golf on the nearby courses.
From the moment you arrive, you are warmly greeted by the Guest Service team, offered a welcome drink and escorted to your suite through the beautiful gardens.
The 18 Terrace Suites are in groups of 3, scattered around the estate. All are built in the original Cape colonial style, with thatched roofs, shutters and trailing vines over the private outdoor terrace. Whether you are relaxing in the lounge or enjoying a lazy morning in the bedroom, the view from each room is spectacular. Imagine looking out on the mellow mists of autumn or the bright green vines flanked by roses in the summer, this is the place to be whatever the season.
La Residence lies at the heart of a private 30-acre working farm, complete with vineyards, plum orchards, a dam and fragrant manicured gardens. The majestic mountains that surround the idyllic Franschhoek Valley provide enchanting views in every direction.
Space is in abundance with panoramic views from every suite, and personalised service is the order of the day. In addition to the deluxe decor, La Residence has a reputation for world-class dining. Haute cuisine is served in the baronial dining room or on the tranquil patios.
A 5 minute drive from the charming curio shops and galleries of Franschhoek village, the hotel provides complimentary transfers so guests can explore at their leisure. There are excellent village restaurants to try as well as a range of activities from horse-riding to chocolate-tasting.
With sublime views, diverse pastimes, crisp mountain air and the stillness of the serene valley, this is an unparalleled luxury retreat.
The 11 opulent bedrooms open onto generous sunny balconies and verandahs, which offer the perfect place to relax, admire the view, and marvel at the synthesis of beauty and tranquility. They incorporate antiques, Persian carpets, fine fabrics and an eclectic mix of objects d’art.
On hot days, the shimmering infinity pool beckons. Sip drinks under a shady umbrella, or relax with treatments in the Spa. In addition, the air conditioned gym caters for the more energetic!
A stone’s throw from La Residence in a tranquil vineyard setting, there are 5 vineyard suites which offer privacy and space for families and groups of friends. There are stylish rooms for dining and relaxing, and luxurious bedrooms with marble en-suite bathrooms. All have private terraces and gardens; while 4 have their own pools.
Paul Campbell is a Co-founder and Managing Director at Travel Butlers. Travel Butlers are specialists in tailor-made safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean.