As with all good weekend getaways, the starting point is choosing your accommodation. Airbnb and other websites offer a host of options for Franschhoek, so you really are spoilt for choice. I was fortunate to be hosted by Le Franschhoek Hotel. This gem sits just over 4kms outside the village; after taking in the incredibly scenic drive from town you find the hotel nestled in luscious gardens and framed by towering Cape-fold mountains. You know that when practically all of the surrounding properties are wine farms you’ve made a good call.
We arrived late in the evening and were very warmly welcomed by the staff who went out their way to settle us in. We were guided through the Cape Dutch styled building until reaching our Deluxe room. What awaited us in the room demonstrated that the hotel certainly lives up to its 4 star rating and great reputation: the floors had been preheated, music was playing, hors d’oeuvres and desert waiting on the table, a complimentary bottle of wine ready, and a hand written note of welcome from the general manager… and all this being standard! This attention to detail and great welcome certainly makes the difference. The room was spacious, well kitted (yes even a coffee machine), and had a balcony with gorgeous views of the valley.
Breakfast is usually a buffet-style feast; the hotel was a little quiet so a ‘limited offering’ was provided. What followed was the arrival of a three-tiered cake stand bursting with fresh fruit, pastries and cold meat, then a hot meal of our choice, with as much juice and hot drinks as needed: certainly no ‘limited offering’ in my view!
Later that day we were treated to a massage at the Camelot Spa, located in the sprawling hotel gardens. I had the Camelot Universal Signature treatment, which is a combination of Hot Stone, Kahuna, Balinese and Indian Head massages. I had to struggle to peel myself off the massage table after a superbly rejuvenating and de-stressing treatment. Thanks to Marinda, Andy and their more than capable team.
Located on the same property is also a collection of freestanding Villas. Until recently these were privately run, but they are now run by the hotel itself – they also receive Le Franschhoek’s 4 star touch. We moved to the Villas for 2 nights, where 8 of us had huge amounts of fun in our luxurious double story abode. They are very spacious and have kitted out kitchens so you can have the best of both worlds: a meal at a fabulous restaurant in town and a lazy cook-up for breakfast. The breath-taking views from private verandas make these an absolute winner – especially for families or larger groups of friends.
As if some great accommodation and the stunning views weren’t enough, this little village offers so much to do. For this weekend we squeezed in a couple old favourites and some new ones. A visit to Franschhoek without stopping at some wine farms would be sacrilegious! Our first vineyard was Black Elephant Vintners. This small boutique farm doesn’t have an official tasting room, but you can (if you’re lucky) arrange a private tasting. For over two hours we sat with Kevin, one of the owners, captivated in the boardroom-come-tasting room, and were taken through their bouquet of exceptional wines. Complemented with the history of the farm, other quirky stories and Kevin’s entertaining music choices, we were happy as mice in a fully stocked pantry. From the small to the big – we moved onto La Motte. Their expansive grounds and historic buildings seem alone worth the visit. The wines are also outstanding, and the Pierneef works on display worth a look. I was just mildy (well a lot) upset that I wasn’t allowed to entertain the guests on their grand piano (yes, I can play a little more than Chopsticks…)
Tuk Tuk is the village’s first beer brewery, and has birthed with the close support of CBC (you’ll most likely know their Amber Weiss) and really does benefit from the support of its much-loved big brother. The styling of the restaurant/tasting room is flawless, and no detail has been left unconsidered. They currently offer 4 of their own beers, of which the Dunkel was by far the favourite: a craft pilsner that’s dark, with sufficient bitterness, and more than enough distinctness in its flavour. With their beers only available on tap at the Restaurant, beer lovers won’t want to skip this one.
As often happens, good things come to an end. The weekend has reminded me why Franschhoek will always be my favourite ‘getaway from the city’ destination. Thanks particularly to Le Franschhoek for making it happen in such style.