Franschhoek carves niche in catering for particular palates
Village offers many fine restaurants while villa-style accommodation owners provide for guests who have diets with strict requirements
Franschhoek leads the trend towards food and wine-fuelled weekend getaways, so it makes sense that the Boland village is again on trend: it is now providing accommodation options for friends and family holidays.
Although multigenerational travel isn’t new, the almost fanatical approach some people take to managing their diets is catching on. A group might include a person who is gluten-free, a vegan or a Banting fanatic. Children might have peanut allergies or lactose intolerance.
While idiosyncratic diets are the stuff of nightmares for restaurateurs, it is a boon for people offering villa-style accommodation and self-catering options. An establishment well-versed in suitable snack and ingredient options that will stock the fridge ahead of your arrival guarantees a good weekend.
Within walking distance of Franschhoek’s Main Street is La Clé Des Montagnes villas. All are exquisitely decorated by Sarah Ord in her typically colourfully vibrant and eclectic way. There are four villas, depending on the size of the group. We stayed in La Galerie, an modern, art-filled villa with a beautiful garden, pool and onward view to the Franschhoek mountains.
Sleeping four in two equally elegant en-suite rooms, the villa has the kind of kitchen that makes you want to cook. Breakfast prepared by the villa’s butlers is standard, but Le Clé can also arrange for one of the many top chefs in the village to prepare in-villa private dining.
La Grange, a three-bedroom villa, has an upstairs loft area if you’re wedded to watching the big screen, while La Colonial, the largest villa with four bedrooms, is a fusion of Moroccan and East African colours and textures.
Veteran hoteliers Peggy Klement and Larry Gould are your hosts. Gould wrote the book on the best golfing in the country and is happy to share.
In the heart of the village is Brit explorer-turned-hotelier Jo Sinfield’s Explorers Club, a group of properties sharing a love for travel exploration.
Although comfortable in every way, the luxury is in the space and the interesting books, maps and other travel accoutrements available to guests.
The Explorers Club is best suited to longer stays for groups that want to do their own cooking, although owner Jo says a professional chef is available upon request.
La Residence, one of the Royal Portfolio properties that includes Royal Malewane and the recently opened Silo Hotel in Cape Town, is a fantastical place delivering equal parts whimsy and jaw-dropping spectacle. Warm and hearty and not cold and starchy is how The Royal Portfolio’s Edward Morton describes the service ethic at this boutique hotel.
Although each suite is large enough to accommodate an entire family, they are designed just for two. There are also villas — the five Vineyard Suites on the property from which you might be tempted to pick grapes or reach for a plum from the comfort of your lounger.
The Wine Tram is a fun way to experience a number of Franschhoek wineries without having to drive. Plan your Wine Tram experience first as routes and departure times vary.
There are many fine dining and high-cost options in the village including Constantia’s famed La Colombe, which replaces The Tasting Room, from August 2017. Middle of the road places to eat include Dutch East, in the centre of the village, for good steaks and hearty, affordable meals, Reuben Riffel’s newly opened pop-up at Chamonix’s Racine, where he started his career, always reliable is The French Connection and for pizza, Col Cacchio is hard to beat.
The Last Word Franschhoek, revamped after the 2014 flooding, offers elegant and understated lodging right next door to Col Cacchio.
Two of the suites have private pool access and the breakfast is sensational. The Last Word properties in Constantia and Long Beach, Kommetjie, all share the same intimate hotel experience with tip-top service that’s tailored to every whim.
Franschhoek cleverly has a number of off-peak festivals to ensure a year-long income stream such as Bastille in July, the Open Gardens and Classical Music Festival in October and the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May.