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A shimmering example of the mountain-fringed, grape-rich glory that is Cape Winelands, the town of Franschhoek is rightly considered a South African culinary capital. More than 60 restaurants dot this charming town, a unique concentration of Dutch- and French-flavoured charms utterly devoted to the creation and enjoyment of delicious food and fine wine. It gets our vote on all fronts.
Laced with lush plum orchards and verdant olive groves, regularly frequented by springboks, guinea fowl and strutting peacocks, La Residence’s 30 acre luxury estate makes an appropriately sumptuous base. Its own Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vineyards surround: La Residence wines — a red blend, a plummy red reserve, and a refreshing rosé — are all happily served on site. Step inside and discover a stylish, chic home from home: from glittering Indian chandeliers and elegant antiques to a very fine collection of original South African artworks lovingly curated by our owner-hosts, La Residence is a cosseting temple to colour and luxury comforts.
Masterfully designed by our hospitable hostess Liz Biden, each of the just 16 luxury suites is individually appointed in its own style and colour palette – from the richly exotic Tibetan Suite fitted with oriental antiques and rich persimmon tones, to the blue-and-yellow-hued Provençal Chambre Bleu lined with opulent velvets and silks. All suites are cooled with air-conditioning and equipped with flat-screen TV, DVD player, spacious en suite bathroom, as well as a standout private balcony with vaunting mountain and vineyard views – the classic Cape Winelands panorama that invites fragrant early morning lingering and sunset aperitif moments overlooking the very vines from whence elixir springs.
Naturally, dining here is a capital affair at every turn. Al fresco breakfast, afternoon tea overlooking the dam and, best of all, evenings in the Great Hall – beneath the glimmer of chandeliers and glowing flicker of vast fireplaces, or outside, amidst the lavish alfresco splendour of Persian Alley – are, quite simply, unforgettable. A dip in the glorious outdoor swimming pool before an indulgent spa treatment in a tranquil, air-conditioned treatment room, in the peaceful Tea House, or in the privacy of your own suite is a bow to one of the finest holidaying traditions.
While the 11 suites at the hotel are ideal for couples, there are also five vineyard suites furnishing all the privacy and space that families and groups value. Each of these suites — a self-contained cottage, really — features ample living areas replete with board games, a large television, and a variety of layouts. Activities include Junior Masterchef baking and decorating classes, art classes are always popular, as is the chance for children to pick flowers from the beautiful gardens and make their own flower arrangements. ‘Parents’ Night Out’ encourages children to make their own pizzas before movies with popcorn.
With our stay in the heart of foodie and oenology heaven, it’s only natural the day beats to drum of our lips, tongues and happy tummies. The show-stopping gastronomy of the Franschhoek Valley puts delicious food and fine wines in pole position, but the natural beauty of the Cape Winelands also lends itself to top-drawer hiking and cycling, curated art gallery visits and fabulous festivals (among the notables, there’s a Literary Festival in May, Bastille Festival in July, Franschhoek Uncorked happens in September, and the Open Gardens Festival in October) – all conducted amongst an unending cavalcade of stunning vistas, views and with the help of the attentive, ever-personable insider knowledge of our Micato Safari Director. And of course, what better way to cultivate a pre-prandial appetite than a stroll through our home-from-home’s own vineyard?