The last thing you expect to come across in this small suburb, dotted with faux Cape Dutch-style complexes, is a slick design hotel. But that’s Stellenbosch for you. Apparently nothing is as it seems in this Western Cape town, with its acres of vineyards, oak trees and charming architecture. And it’s big on hidden detail, too, if its high-profile murders and Markus Jooste’s dodgy dealings are any thing to go by.

Thankfully, you won’t find such surprises at design hotel Majeka House. Instead, expect off-the-wall touches and curve balls of the non-sinister kind — such as the life-sized pig table by Dutch designer Moooi at reception. Or the chocolate-box painting in an ornate frame that looks down on you from the ceiling as you lie in bed. The whole place oozes sophisticated fun.

Acclaimed local designer Etienne Hanekom is behind the interiors. His work is always vivid, eclectic and joyful, and this boutique hotel typifies that. In his world, botanical prints offset pink walls, gold-topped tables and Chesterfield couches. It may sound kitsch, but it all works perfectly — which is what you want from this kind of niche space. It is indulgent and you feel spoilt, though the staff are low-key and charming.

In the rooms, the double showers are huge, though water restrictions unfortunately rule out bathing or long soaks. The beds are equally expansive — you could easily sink into one and stay there for the weekend. But then you’d miss out on the plethora of nearby wine farms and stellar restaurants — and, for that matter, the award-winning Makaron restaurant downstairs.

For dinner, we had a rush of blood to the head and ordered the full monty of five food coma-inducing small plates, each paired with wine. The baby marrow risotto with raw mushroom and cured egg-yolk shavings was exceptional, as was the prawn confit with curry, smoked snail shavings and coconut.

By some miracle we still had space for breakfast the next morning. This is critical at Majeka House, because it is really one of the hotel’s drawcards. In addition to a menu that includes the usual suspects, like eggs Benedict, there is a long Gregor Jenkin-designed metal table that is jam-packed with tempting ways to start your day. There’s bircher muesli, cheese, smoothies and all manner of freshly baked pastries.

A word of advice: do not visit without having the canelés. These sweet and sticky morsels, flavoured with rum and vanilla, have a custardy centre and sugary, crisp exterior. In our opinion, Makaron makes the best version of these in the country.

As surprises go, this is a good one.

*The writer was a guest of Majeka House. For more information, visit