A Victorian farmstead on its own 10,000 acre private nature reserve, and at the same time a working wheat and sheep farm, all near to Cape Town and the winelands of the Western Cape.
The Edwardian farmhouse has four bedrooms and one suite, and there is also a separate house - with four bedrooms and its own swimming pool - that is ideal for self-catering families or groups of friends. The staff are charming and the food excellent.
Away from the main accommodation, there is a deckhouse by a dammed lake which is an ideal place to relax, fish for trout or even windsurf. Evening sundowners are served on the dam.
This is very much a working farm, with wheat, oats, canola and clover pastures grown on the estate around the farm. There is always something going on, so children and adults alike can learn the basics of farming when not exploring Cape Town and the winelands.
Why We Love It
Bartholomeus Klip is still a working farm, home to 4,000 merino sheep kept primarily for their wool, which is sold at auction in Cape Town.
Birkenhead House is a luxurious coastal retreat perched on the cliffs overlooking Walker Bay, just outside Hermanus - one of the first stops on the 'Garden Route' running east from Cape Town.
The hotel has just ten rooms, which have views of the ocean or the mountains. A sheltered courtyard houses a dual-level swimming pool, and there is a gym, and a massage and beauty treatment centre. The dining room serves excellent cuisine and is exclusively for guests. Next door to Birkenhead House is Birkenhead Villa, which has a further six bedrooms and can be booked on an exclusive basis.
From May to December the Southern Right whale graces Walker Bay and the resident Bryde's whales are amongst the other species found here. Cape fur seals, bottlenose dolphins and African penguins are also found on this stretch of coast. There is also great walking in the Hermanus area, either along the cliff paths or in the beautiful fynbos-covered mountains. There are good swimming beaches within easy walking distance of the hotel, and other activities available locally include sea kayaking, boat fishing, diving, golf, horse riding and visits to the vineyards of the Hemel n'Aarde valley. Nearby Hermanus has a variety of shops, restaurants and cafés, easily reached on foot or by bicycle.
Why We Love It
The seas off Hermanus are one of the prime whale-watching spots in South Africa so you might see them from the comfort of your sunlounger.
Tucked away in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, Bushmans Kloof offers the freedom to cycle, walk and enjoy outdoor activities surrounded by spectacular rock formations and seasonal rivers.
Only 180 miles north of Cape Town, the main lodge consists of 16 cottages in the terraced gardens, each individually decorated and with private verandas, beautiful views and a choice of four shared infinity pools.
Recently, the stylish private villa Koro Lodge opened on the reserve to offer privacy and flexible accommodation to groups of friends and families (it sleeps a maximum of ten), with children welcome all year round, unlike the adult-only main lodge.
There is a swimming pool, several verandas and al fresco dining. The services of a dedicated chef and a ranger with a game-viewing 4x4 are included in the rates. At both Bushmans Kloof and Koro the chef specialises in seasonal dishes with a touch of Cape heritage cooking.
Guests are invited to select their wine from an award-winning wine list. Activities include nature drives to mountain biking and canoeing, with special children's activities and family excursions also available.
Why We Love It
Activities include guided rock art walks and there are more than 130 ancient San Bushmen rock art sites in the vicinity to choose from.
There may be smarter places to stay in the Winelands, but we guarantee none have as much character as Hawksmoor.
The Winelands are famous for their beautiful wine estates, some of which are completely picture perfect and - if we're honest - teetering on the verge of quaintness. Not Hawksmoor. Staying here feels like staying with friends, and guests are positively encouraged to wander into the big farm kitchen and help themselves to fresh from the AGA biscuits and cake.
Five of the tastefully decorated rooms are in the original farmhouse, with another three in converted outbuildings. All are individually styled, with a quirky mix of the classical and the more exotic - expect beautiful linens and drapes mixed with the occasional bold colour, Persian rugs and beautiful orchids.
The grounds are extensive with herb gardens, swimming pool and a dam as part of the greater working farm beyond, and the resident (and extremely friendly) dogs add to the general air of homeliness. Needless to say, this is not the place for the high maintenance guest who requires 24/7 attention, but for someone who doesn't mind levering a dog off the sofa, or the odd frog in the swimming pool, this should be heaven.
Why We Love It
Each room or cottage has its own little kitchen so for one night of their stay guests are encouraged to pick their own veg, wander into Franschoek to buy a bottle of wine and select meat from the butcher and then cook themselves a meal.
La Residence is a secluded retreat situated in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley, in the heart of the Cape Winelands just an hour from Cape Town.
Designed along the lines of a French country château, La Residence offers just five luxuriously furnished suites and exceptional service. Franschhoek village has become the gastronomic capital of South Africa and La Residence serves a superb blend of local and Mediterranean cuisine, and guests can dine indoors, or on the veranda overlooking the vineyards.
There are also many other excellent restaurants in the village. Activities at La Residence include tennis, trout fishing, mountain walks and private wine tastings at some of South Africa's most famous wine estates. Hot-air ballooning and paragliding can also be arranged, or you can relax by the pool, admire the view, or enjoy a film in the home cinema.
Why We Love It
Guests get their own butler, chef and chauffeur to arrange everything from the perfect meal to a range of excursions in the local area.
Le Quartier Francais
Le Quartier Français is a small, privately owned country inn situated in the heart of the historic village of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands.
Franschhoek (meaning 'French Corner') was settled by French Huguenots in the 17th century, and Le Quartier Français reflects that heritage with its Cape Provençal buildings.
The rooms are set around a rose-filled central courtyard, plus two luxurious suites with private pools. In addition, the Four Quarters offers four suites with an extra level of luxury, including a butler service.
Le Quartier Français is especially renowned for its multi-award-winning restaurant, which has been described as serving 'some of the best food on the planet'. Chef Margot Janse is consistently rated amongst the very best in South Africa. There is a swimming pool in the landscaped gardens, and a mini-cinema where guests can watch classic films and the latest releases from the comfort of armchairs, with a glass of wine in hand. Beauty treatments are available at the Treatment Room, and a wide variety of activities are on offer locally, including golf, mountain biking, hiking, horse riding, and paragliding.
Why We Love It
The hotel was awarded 'Best Small Hotel in the World 2005' by Tatler magazine. A while ago now, but we still love this place.
Grande Provence Estate is situated in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley in South Africa's Western Cape. This is the heartland of South Africa's wine country and the Owner's Cottage is one of the finest luxury hotels in the Winelands. Additional accommodation is now also available at the lovely La Provencale cottage.
As a hint of what's to come, the road into the estate is stunning with rows of vineyards and an avenue of trees leading to the beautifully appointed Cottage, which can either be taken in its entirety or an individual room basis. There are four double en suite bedrooms and a deluxe suite decorated in white and muted tones, a conservatory and lounge, and elegant swimming pool area.
Over at La Provencale there are a further two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms either side of a shared sitting room area. La Provencale is probably best suited to families who can enjoy the privacy of having the entire cottage to themselves, with a private terrace and access to the main pool nearby.
Guests at both properties can make use of the estate facilities including eating at the world renowned restaurant (regularly voted among the best in South Africa) or choosing to eat and one of the many private dining areas around the estate. Complimentary wine tastings, cellar visits and guided tours of the art gallery and sculpture gardens are also included.
Why We Love It
Small but perfectly formed, the Owner's Cottage is one of the most elegant and comfortable places to stay in the Cape Winelands. For families La Provencal is the perfect private hire option.
Mont Rochelle is a wonderful boutique hotel set on a hill above the historic village of Franschhoek, surrounded by vineyards and mountains. The property dates back to the 18th century when French Huguenots (many of them winemakers) fled to the Cape to escape religious persecution in France and in 2014, Sir Richard Branson gallantly rode in and gave the place a much needed face lift.
All 26 individually appointed rooms and suites have sleek interiors , luxury en suites and views of the courtyard, valley or vineyards. All rooms feature underfloor heating, tea/coffee facilities, wi-fi, DVD player and television. The Shiraz rooms are the smallest, the Merlot Room is slightly larger and the resplendent Pinotage Suite also features a separate lounge.
As far as wining and dining goes, options include the alfresco Country Kitchen, located in the wine tasting facility of Mont Rochelle vineyards and offering relaxed Mediterranean dining, and fine dining restaurant Mange Tout which boasts beautiful valley views. For a sunset tipple we recommend the Bar for delicious canapés and cocktails, and in the winter cosy up by a roaring fire with hot chocolate and homemade cookies.
With 100 acres of grounds to explore, mountain bikes, horse riding, boutique wine cellar, outdoor swimming pool, a spa with a hammam and a heated pool, every pursuit arduous or relaxing is on offer. If on a jaunt of the surrounding areas be sure to take one of the chef's sumptuous gourmet picnics.
Why We Love It
To really get the most out of the stay at this hotel, it is vital to get a taste of the wine made in Mont Rochelle's very own vineyards. The Franschhoek Valley's Meditterranean climate means the wines produced here are of the highest quality.
Leeu House is located in the heart of Franschhoek and so is ideally located for those who wish to be able to walk to a range of dining and drinking options throughout the day.
The twelve guest rooms vary in size but all feature the same in room tech - TV's, wifi access, wall mounted USB charging ports and underfloor heating in the bathroom. All guestrooms have an en suite shower and a few have both bathtubs and showers. A complimentary minibar with wine and snacks replenished daily is a nice touch. Upgrading your room allows for extra space, including a handful of rooms with private terraces.
Facilities at Leeu House include a swimming pool, peaceful garden, lounge bar and restaurant - The Conservatory. A buffet continental breakfast and a la carte hot menu is available daily, best enjoyed on the terrace, as well as a dinner service in the evening. There are also complimentary bicycles for guests use and a complimentary shuttle to sister property Leeu Estates. Leeu Estates is located on the hillside overlooking Franschhoek village and guests of Leeu House are able to use the spa and gym facilities at Leeu Estates. Leeu House guests can also get preferential reservations at the famous Tasting Room restaurant, at Le Quartier Francais hotel just next door.
Why We Love It
The location, right in the heart of foodie Franschhoek, is unbeatable.