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Le Franschhoek Hotel and Spa
Cape winelands accommodation that offers more than just a room
Cape winelands accommodation that offers more than just a room
In retrospect, the simple directions we were given to get to Le Franshhoek (drive down the main road until you get to the Huguenot Monument, turn right and follow the winding road, once you catch sight of the thatched roofs, you’ll know you’ve arrived) did no justice to the stately five-star hotel and spa located in the lush Franshhoek valley, but they did embody a philosophy.
They like to make things easy for guests at this luxury winelands accommodation, and our visit to the property was no different.
“We don’t just offer a room,” General Manager Eben Lassen tells us, “we offer an experience.”
For starters, guests are met with a refreshing towel, a welcome drink and a quick tour of the sprawling property.
Once they’ve de-stressed from their journey, they can start to enjoy the elegance of the French Provencal-style hotel. The décor is eclectic, but not overbearing.
The reception area leads onto a lounge area with several striking art pieces lining the walls along the way. The open-plan lounge cascades into a bar area and a veranda, the light space between the two separated by a few comfortable couches. Here, guests can relax in the sun and enjoy a cup of tea, or move over to the bar for something a bit stronger.
Next, we peek into La Pavilion, a light sunny room where guests are enjoying breakfast, and spot an impressive array of seasonal fruit, homemade jams and preserves, cereal and salmon tartare. Apart from the decadent cold options, traditional English breakfasts, as well as eggs Benedict or Florentine and other delicious sounding hot meals are also served. Not to mention, there’s a rack of fresh honey-comb and bubbly on standby in case anyone’s in the mood for a champagne breakfast.
After, we take a stroll through the gardens, which leads down to a crystal clear pool lined with comfortable looking loungers. The recent addition of a pool bar means that guests and visitors can now enjoy cocktails without having to move an inch, and for those who’d prefer a bit of activity, there’s an option to take part in a boules tournaments held on the lawn in front of the veranda.
“We’re in the business of helping people to create memories” Eben tells us, and it’s clear that this beautiful property has been at the centre of many people’s special moments.
Guests are treated to an individualised tiered cake on their special days, whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, and their rooms will get turn down service with rose petals, chocolate truffles, bubbly and a bubble bath waiting for them.
To put it as simply, it’s a world away from the average hotel.
Stay at Le Franschhoek
Once the quaint Swiss Farm Excelsior, the romance of a bygone era has carried over to the present; it’s easy to see why this hotel attracts newlyweds – one glimpse into a room with its thatched roof and panoramic views of the valley and I start falling in love - with the scenery that is.
Guests can choose to stay in the main house, or if they want more privacy, they can book one of the suites tucked away in the estate garden. There are 63 rooms, all with separate baths and showers and ample space. They have all the modern amenities, including under-floor heating and air con. There are also two bedroom villas available with a kitchen and a lounge, as well as family suites with loft-style twin beds – children will enjoy sleeping under a thatched roof and can stay there for free if they’re under 12 years (breakfast not included).
All rooms have balconies from which guests can enjoy the spectacular views, and the family villas have outdoor areas shaded by grape vines. The Vineyard Suites at the bottom of the garden are perfect for larger groups, as they can book out the entire house of rooms for themselves.
Le Verger and Dish: Eat and drink at Le Franschhoek
Le Franshhoek has two on-site restaurants: Le Verger, also known as the Orchard Restaurant, and Dish. Chef Oliver Cattermole creates food that captures the feeling of the hotel while catering to a wide range of tastes.
Dish is the more formal of the two, with an elegant, romantic atmosphere which can be created for weddings and other functions too; the lights are dimmed, candles are lit and a piano player entertains the diners. Here, you’ll find delicious food and an award-winning wine list.
The Orchard Restaurant is a collection of individual glass conservatories dotted throughout a fruit orchard of lemon and plums. Diners can stroll through the trees and pick a space – the main glasshouse takes up to 50 people for a small wedding or large dinner, and the smallest one is perfect for a private dining experience for two. Informal pizzas, cheese platters and high teas are on the menu; it’s a great place to go for a relaxed meal in an enchanting setting, and it’s been the site of many a proposal.
In fact, Reservations Manager Liezl Marais has helped plenty of nervous boyfriends to create that perfect moment. She’s been an accomplice in plots as simple and as heartfelt as replacing a dessert item on the menu with a “Will you marry me?”, to those that are as ostentatious as to make use of the helicopter landing pad on the hotel grounds.
In addition to the normal menu, Le Franshhoek’s dining facilities offer glühwein and chocolate and cheese fondues during winter.
There are also conferencing, wedding and function facilities available in different spaces across the estate. From an old wine cellar to a ‘blank slate venue’ you can pick a room or building that suits your needs.
The Camelot Spa at La Franshhoek
This wellness centre is open to the public and offers a complete relaxation and rejuvenation experience. It offers spa treatments, as well as couples treatments, celebration packages and a complimentary aromatherapy sauna. Try the hydro baths or the floatation treatment, just an hour of floating will give you the equivalent of four hours of deep sleep – perfect for when you’re feeling run down and exhausted.
Tip: Eben tells us how much they value local business, so contact them to find out what specials they offer to South African guests.
Trivia: The Swiss Farm Excelsior Hotel was owned by Ludwig Maske’s family back in the day; he now runs La Cotte Inn, a wine and cheese shop in Franschhoek.