One of the most glorious sunset views in the world. Joie d'vivre among Sir Richard Branson's vineyards, or a hideaway for art, food and wine. Views of breaching whales in season...
We have just returned from a Cape exploration, and include some new and refurbed properties where art thrives and nature remains supreme.
For Select Collection's South Africa portfolio follow this link.
LEEU ESTATES - FRANSCHHOEKThis classy working wine estate offers a restful stay 5 mins from the village and its gourmet restaurants – set amidst vineyards, mountains and art that projects passion for sculpture with a modern twist. This is a hideaway for culturally aware people. The elegant rooms are spacious, soothing and artfully rustic, housed in the manor house or spread out in charming thatched cottages. Leeu Restaurant serves fresh, light food with colour and flair the Franschhoek way. And guests enjoy free wine tasting in building dedicated to the art and guarded by two of the signature lion sculptures.
|Line caught fish of the day with almond sauce, crumbled fried feta and Capsicum gnocchi – fine fare at Leeu Restaurant|
|View down to sculptures and manicured gardens from terrace of Leeu Restaurant|
|Honesty bar in the lounge - in your room minibars, willingly (automatically) refilled, are included|
|Glimpse of one of many sculptures in the gardens backed by Franschhoek Valley and the omnipresent rugged fold mountains|
|A plethora of sculpture in landscaped gardens|
|Rabbit by the spa|
|Deluxe Room - classily and artfully rustic – housed in a cottage – former wine cellar|
|Former wine cellar is one of the picturesque cottages - contains two suites|
|Lounge in Max House – which has dining room and 3 suites/rooms that can be booked separately unless Max House is booked on sole use basis|
LEEU ESTATES FACTS: 17 rooms. Spa with 3 treatment rooms incl 1 for couples. Two pools with views, one at spa - for adults only. No children under 7. There are a few triple rooms. Art adorned lounges, library, wine tasting room. Room tones sandy brown with sisal carpeting and chair coverings patterned to look rougher than they are. It is artfully rustic yet sophisticated.
Rooms in thatched cottages, Max House or the Manor House. Deluxe room 55sqm, Studio 63sqm (some are in spa). Executive suite 97sqm with or without terrace; one in Max house along with 2 other rooms. Gabled Max House is sought after for sole use – has lounge, dining room, 30 mins walk to Leeu House in the village, 5 mins by car.
REMARK: Local politics has resulted in two strange things. No sign on the main road and a rustic road up to the hotel. Owner Mr Singh is still in negotiations with the local community. Once you get to the imposing manned gate to the property all is in perfect pristine repair. The property is rather spread out - a nice walk to most of the cottages past sculptures and fountain or you can call a buggy.
MONT ROCHELLE - FRANSCHHOEK
Sir Richard Branson's hotel and winery are a quantum leap from the old Mont Rochelle since Virgin brightened the rooms, created gleaming marble bathrooms and effervescent hospitality, with effortless service, overflowing complimentary minibars, lavish welcome drinks and manager’s cocktail parties. Sparkling pool, complimentary picnics and wine tasting, and 2 excellent restaurants add to the joie d’vivre with a village full of gourmet treats a free shuttle away at the French Corner – Franschhoek. Not a hideaway – more of a resort feel - so you can spend your days lounging by the pool when not exploring the wonderful Winelands.
|Spend the day by the pool or go exploring for culinary and wine pleasures|
|Sunny view out from a Shiraz room (opening category) - reading in the peacock blue armchair facing a bedhead with peacock blue and white floral design|
|Whether to look at the transfixing backdrop or concentrate on heaping up with smoked salmon, cold cuts, croissants and fruit, or return to the table to order from the considerable menu in Miko restaurant at Mont Rochelle|
|Pleasant gardens, pool, pagoda (for smokers), mountain views of course - this is Franschhoek|
For more about Mont Rochelle see Select Collection
MONT ROCHELLE FACTS: 26 rooms named after local wines - Shiraz 4 rooms, Merlot 6, Cabernet 6, Pinotage suites 4, Cap Classique suites 2. The Manor House suggested for sole use: 2 pools, 4 rooms. Hotel has 2 restaurants Miko and Country Kitchen, bar, spa, advanced gym, wine tasting, 5 mins by car to village centre or 20 mins walk.
REMARKS: Breakfast buffet is stacked picturesquely in front of a valley and mountain view – with all the essential items from various fruits, smoked salmon and cheeses, and a nice menu of hot items.
A very pleasant place to stay with more of a resort feel - not a hideaway. .But the Cap Classique suites are enormous with lovely views and plunge pools – and you could hide away there if the mood sttruck.
21 NETTLETON - BANTRY BAY, CAPE TOWNYou are welcomed like an elite family guest in this exquisite, art-studded palazzo-style home turned hotel, high above Clifton beaches with stunning views of the Twelve Apostles. The daily sunset cocktails (included along with afternoon tea on the green lawns) are a must, and a summer swim in the meandering pool among the rocks. The ultimate option is sole use – but in any case you can settle down in various artful lounges and verandas as if it’s all sublimely yours.
|The sunsets sizzle. Don’t miss sundowners which are usually hosted by the owner... to see the sun drop into the sea with a chilled glass in your hand|
|As the lights come on, the sunset glow hangs above the sea. The headland in the background is the site of incredible Chapman's Peak Drive. Camps Bay is 8-10 mins drive from the hotel – lined with eateries|
|Watched over by the Twelve Apostles|
|Behind the hotel stands the rugged Twelve Apostles mountain chain enfolding all this beauty. They stretch from Table Mountain (the cable station can be seen from the hotel) towards Cape Point|
|The main lounge - comfy sofas, sculptures, paintings and other objets d'art expressing the family’s love of beautiful things – all somehow homely|
|Breakfast - Eggs Benedict among items on the menu|
|One of the rooms - this one (Queen room) is to be enlarged into a suite. Currently it has magnificent terraces and a bathtub in the room (separate loo & shower).|
|The pool between the rocks with private and shady corners. It is not heated but nearby there is a sauna and steam room|
|Green gardens, ocean and mountains - and beaches way below (5 mins by car).|
View down to Fourth Beach Clifton.
|View down to Clifton from our terrace|
|The main terrace and the big blue - awaiting the magic of the sunset...|
Your sundowners are included along with afternoon tea and breakfast, and you can help yourself happily to beers, spirits and beverages.
REMARKS: Our room had the balcony of a lifetime – full of white sofas and a view over the edge down to the snow white Clifton beaches and the silken sea. It had a separate shower and WC, but the bath was in the room. I found the bed stern, but sheets of gentle silken nature. Loads of amenities – Africology – and fluffy towels – and coffee and tea making with luxury teas in the arty lounge on our floor. The room will be expanded to have a sitting area. For those wanting to have a hire car, there is a small parking lot accessed by a very steep driveway behind the security gates. We found it easier to take our hire car after departure from 21 Nettleton.
*Currently 5 rooms, there will be 6 rooms when renovations are complete including penthouse (250 sqm with 5 balconies), mountain facing room (Lions Head room), vast Steinway suite with a grand piano (150 sqm), and 3 rooms & suites with enchanting verandas looking way down to the snow white Clifton beaches and the blue seas. A 10 minutes taxi ride to Camps Bay (65 rand is what we paid).
BIRKENHEAD HOUSE - HERMANUSAbsolutely and totally stunning, perched right on the edge of a cliff. You can commandeer a sunbed by the pool with bird's eye view of Voelklip beach way below and its surfers surging in. Lounges clothed in crisp white seem to flow towards the sea view. Bedrooms maintain the Royal Portfolio extravagant quirkiness. It's a short shuttle ride or almost 2 hours to walk along the famous whale-watching cliff walk to Hermanus village with its plethora of outdoor restaurants draped over squares and along the seafront.
|Birkenhead House clifftop pool overlooking Voelklip beach and the surfers|
|White sofas enjoying the view|
|Sparkling blue waters washing up onto the rocks of Hermanus|
|The old Harbour Hermanus - snorkellers amidst the kelp seaweed. There is also a new harbour which has a recommended seaview restaurant|
|The Cliff Walk - a favourite for joggers and nature lovers, with benches placed out along the way for whale watching. It runs from New Harbour for 12 km past Birkenhead House to Grotto Beach - a Blue Flag beach.|
See more about Birkenhead House at Select Collection,
BIRKENHEAD HOUSE FACTS: 11 glamorously decorated rooms packed with antique items picked by Liz Biden (could not see any rooms – brief inspection only), all with balconies/patio, 8 with sea views. Some boast both mountain and sea views. Lounges, bar, dining room, all inclusive. 1h 45 mins walk to Hermanus.
Since Birkenhead House is so loved by loyal repeaters there is competition for rooms. Select Collection can suggest some fallback options for people who cannot resist Hermanus adventures – shark cage diving, biking, hiking, whale watching June to early Dec – with high season Aug to Oct. and dining in the restaurant -blessed town. Here is one suggestion - but note it is not a hotel it is a guest house:
Oceans Eleven - Hermanus
A well placed alternative when Birkenhead is full (pleasant 4 star guest house, not a five star hotel) - for those who cannot resist the charms of Hermanus - from nature walks to shark cage diving and whale watching.
You can sight whales Aug to Nov from this property placed a few steps from the famous Cliff Walk. Low key but friendly service, and light big rooms with comfy retro armchairs placed for staring out to sea both in the room and on the spacious balcony. Nice breakfast buffet. Artful retro lounge which is only spot with wifi. Small signs of wear and tear but overall light, pleasant and soothing.
|Oceans Eleven in the background here is a few steps through the fynbos to the famous Cliff Walk that follows the rocky coastline - where people look out for whales in the South African late winter and early summer.|
|Breakfast with a view|
|Sunrise from a Deluxe room. A perfect spot to watch for whales breaching|
OCEANS ELEVEN FACTS: 11 rooms & suites, coffee & tea making in room & minibar, heated towel rail, lounge, breakfast room, swimming pool, lots of sunbeds, gate leading into the fynbos and a few steps to the cliff walk. A 2 bedrooms suite accommodates children and some rooms take triples. No kids under 12. 10 to 15 mins walk from the town area and restaurants.
(c) Images Select Collection
Select Collection, Grev Turegatan 8, 114 46 Stockholm, Sweden
Select Collection Haute Couture Luxury Travel Blog. Camera: PO Broddeson Words: Gillian Stanbridge