I can safely say this was the most luxurious stop on our African trip so far.
This area of Cape Town was without doubt, the most picturesque in terms of landscape and idyllic countryside. The drive out from the city took about an hour and as soon as we left the developed hub, we were spoilt with the sweeping mountains and valleys of the beautiful winery district.
When we were planning the trip months before, we tossed up between the two main wine regions, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Although I’m sure both are just as beautiful as each other, we were delighted with our choice. We heard from other visitors who were staying in Stellenbosch, that yes it was breathtaking but it was further out from the hustle and activity of the little town and the activities available in the region.
If you are heading to Cape Town and within reach of this pocket of paradise, you MUST put it on your travel list…even if only for a couple of nights. We had 2 full days and 2 nights and it was enough time to immerse ourselves in the tranquillity and take full advantage of all this region has to offer.
Our stay at Franschhoek Country House was luxury with nothing spared and we got the royal treatment from the moment we arrived.
While we waited for our room to be ready (we did arrive a little early), we were taken to a stunning sun room overlooking the immaculately manicured gardens, to relax. A waiter took our drink orders and returned in minutes, with our barista made coffees. I could certainly have gotten used to that life!
As we explored our surroundings, we weaved our way along cobbled footpaths lined with lemon and lime trees. There was only a small number of country houses and villas on this property and we only ever saw a few other couples throughout our whole stay…felt like a private destination all to ourselves at times!
The room itself was huge and furnished with an elaborate fire place, private balcony and an elaborate bathroom. In addition to all the space in the rooms, there was a communal lounge quarter in each of the country houses (there were about 3-4 rooms per house). In the evenings, the fire was lit in this area and there was a fresh bottle of port set out each night on our return from dinner…an indulgence we took full advantage of!
The pool area is certainly worth a mention due to the attention paid to it throughout the day and the facilities the resort provided. There were two pools, one heated and the other heated naturally (it was one to wake you up in the morning!). There were fresh towels in baskets by the poolside and lots of very comfortable sun loungers (no need for that dash to the pool each morning with your towel!). While we lazed by the pool on our first day in the resort, we were regularly checked in on by the very attentive staff and even had lunch served to us by the pool. As well as having the luxury of ordering any drinks we wanted to be delivered to us throughout the day, there was also a complimentary refreshments table set up under a pergola by the pool with still and sparkling water, home grown lemons and limes as well as freshly made lemonade…seriously, who doesn’t need this in their life!
Each day there was a complimentary evening drinks reception help in one of the sunrooms. We sipped on our choice of drink and nibbled on some tasty snacks each evening before heading back to our room to freshen up before dinner. As the on-site restaurant was of award-winning calibre, we didn’t have to go very far to dine in style (further details below).
Breakfast each morning was served upstairs in one of the reception villas overlooking the charming gardens, silhouetted by the distant mountains and rising sun…pure perfection. We had a large selection of hot menu options as well as a great variety of cereals, fresh fruit, yogurts, breads, meats and pastries in the generously prepared buffet. Fresh juices and barista made coffees were the perfect pairings to keep us fuelled until the late afternoon.
Tip:We had a very early check-out on the day we left Franschhoek, we were departing before breakfast. The staff were more than happy to take our breakfast orders the night before and had our meals delivered to our room in the early hours of the morning so we could eat while we finished packing…service with smile!
As we were lucky enough to have such an incredible restaurant on our doorstep, we didn’t even need to leave the resort at night to have dinner. There were so many delicious options on the menu, that we were only delighted to be able eat there twice to sample more of what they had to offer.
The award-winning Monneaux restaurant, located in the original manor house, is elegantly decorated with a warm and inviting ambiance. The menu is a selection of ‘small plates’ served in a series of courses. Richie being a chef, and totally food obsessed, was in heaven. It was the perfect menu for any appetite as the waiters recommended 3-5 courses each but on the night we had eaten a later lunch, we opted for fewer courses and were still full. There were so many tempting options on the menu that even over the two nights we didn’t try everything (the perfect excuse to return, right?!)
We had a variety of meals in the Monneaux restaurant but our stand-out picks were definitely the steak with béarnaise and hand cut chips, chicken and prawn curry with sides and condiments, and tempura prawns with kimchi and lemon aioli. The dark chocolate tart with white choc mousse for dessert was the decedent finish that we couldn’t resist!
Tip: There was a great choice of gin cocktails and the ones we tried were delicious…definitely worth tyring a few! And if you prefer a beer, the local brew is a must…cheers!
Top things to see/do:
Apart from soaking up the lavish atmosphere and relaxing in complete luxury, there was plenty to see and do in this winery heaven.
Something we didn’t realise in time, was that the town itself is a little hive of activity and well worth an afternoon wander. Pop in for a look as it has lots of interesting cafés and restaurant options and quirky shops to wander through.
Our resort had bicycles for rent or a complimentary shuttle service that could take residents to and from the town so perhaps enquire about similar options if you feel like exploring.
Wine Tram –What a memorable and relaxing day…being carried from one amazing winery to the next with our only concerns being which estate would be our next stop!
The tour we took was operated by Franschhoek Wine Tram and has 5 different routes, with between 7 and 9 stops on each, where you can choose to stop at any 6 wineries of your choice. Each stop had tasting selections and some had delicious food or snack options (the program you get with your ticket has all the information you need for planning stops to suit your individual interests). Our initial stop was at the Eikehof estate. This was an inviting, boutique family winery with a backdrop of postcard quality. The sweeping vines ran as far as the eye could see only to be met on the horizon by a backdrop of striking mountains. We chose not to do a tasting here as it was a little early but enjoyed the complimentary glass as we strolled through the vineyard and listened to the proprietor share the estate’s history.
One of our favourite stops was the Dieu Donne winery. We decided to make this stop as it was the highest point up the mountain on our route and we had seen on the program that there was a restaurant here too. It was the perfect way to break up our afternoon as we went for the wine tasting option and accompanied it with a cheese board…certainly a cheese board worthy of mention!
Tip: Allow yourself a full day for this adventure, even if you don’t spend the entire day out, you may need to sleep off the wine tasting before dinner!
And so, it’s with a head full of incredible memories, that I come to the end of this post. I hope some of this information can be of help to anyone considering a trip to this unique paradise or that perhaps we have ignited an interest in you to pay a visit.
Thank you for taking the time to read our post and we would love for you to check out our earlier posts on the previous stops we made on our African adventure.
If you would like to see where we will be sharing about next, pop over to our Instagram page OUR INSTAGRAM for sneak peeks throughout the week.
We hope to see you again soon.
Richard and Michelle.