There is a name that the famous, the fortunate and the accomplished whisper only to those that they recognise as kindred souls. A country estate among rolling vineyards and plum orchards in the Cape Winelands that understands why the everyday and purely functional is not good enough. A place run by people who know that style is a creative expression of the subtle art of living. La Residence is that name. And it is here that guests who never drop their standards check in to relax.
Not that the staff, who treats every visitor like an heir returning to the family’s country estate, would ever make you do anything as crude as sign in on arrival. Instead, a whole welcoming party of the top members of the hospitality team meets you at your vehicle with gifts and a reviving drink, while they magically make your luggage, mode of transport and any doubts that you are not related to the owners of this château disappear.
We arrive two hours earlier than arranged, but general manager, Edward Morton, is unfazed. For many years he kept his perfectionist hand on the award-winning Royal Malewane Safari Lodge, favoured by celebrities like Elton John. He gallantly sweeps us off to lunch in the triple volume dining area, one of many treasure chests of Liz Biden. Liz, the owner and former resident of La Residence, is an adventurous collector of art and furniture pieces from around the world. Slightly smokey antique mirrors, jazzy black and white marble tiles and plush red chairs suggest that this venue could turn into pure theatre for those who love to entertain and be entertained.
The hotel is nestled on 30 acres of a Franschhoek working farm, providing much of the ingredients of our memorable butternut soup and a cascade of crunchy fresh produce that probably still remembers the hand that decided today is the day they will meet the salad maker. Between main course and dessert, we are treated to a tasting of a Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon made from the estate’s own grapes. Plum liqueur and homegrown olives are more ways that La Residence seeks to create a bond between visitors and the fertile soil surrounding them.
La Residence takes great pride in their ability to match a room to a guest’s personality. Our oriental-inspired Frangipani Room immediately feels like home and we scheme and plan how we could stay on indefinitely in this honeymoon suite. North-facing with wonderful views over the vineyards, it is sunny all day and the most private of the 11 suites. The bedroom and lounge area is so spacious, it feels like even the furniture pieces are stepping aside with a subtle curtsy. The bathroom is a little Versailles in its own right with floor-to-ceiling shutters also with views on the vineyards, an abundance of Charlotte Rhys products and enough cupboard space to move in and live here for months.
To cater for families, La Residence has built a few spacious free-standing villas located slightly away from the main hotel, each with their own swimming pool and private garden with fruit-bearing peach and lemon trees. The vibe here is relaxed and the use of colours lavish, creating a truly happy family space. The little princes and princesses even have their own toiletry sets aimed at little bambinos. Visitors with a passion for cooking might have difficulty staying out of the seductively styled kitchen where villa guests have a free reign. Or, if they prefer, the resident chef will conjure their meals here.
For those who treasure their solitude and privacy, but don’t want to be confined to the perimeters of their own suites, there are several slightly more secluded communal areas to recline in, admire the views, catch up on some reading in the library, picnic on the lawn, catch some sun next to the horizon pool, or stroll through the orchards.
That evening we dine at Reuben’s in Franschhoek village and the hotel immediately arranges complimentary transport to and from the restaurant. We are free to just relax and savour the good wines that this region produces. The next morning there appears to be no cut-off time for breakfast and the check-out time is whenever we are able to reluctantly release our room to the next fortunate visitor.
La Residence is an outrageously classy and comfortable boutique hotel that really celebrates the pleasure of being able to afford the best the world has to offer. What makes us want to return again and again, though, is the people of La Residence. They have perfected the art of attentiveness without intrusion, warmth without too much familiarity. They are the top of the hospitality crop.
– Independent review by Klein Companion, Lizelle Steyn
Need more information? Visit La Residence on Klein Collection’s website to view more property details, images and rates.