Fabulous vistas, gourmet food and great local wines make Mont Rochelle a dream honeymoon hideaway and, with Cape Town treasures on your doorstep, it’s also the perfect base for a foodie adventure
Words Sandy Cadiz-Smith
As any visitor or resident will testify, the sheer physical beauty of Cape Town and the area around it is staggering. From the sweeping white beaches of Camps Bay, Noordhoek and Muizenberg to the verdant forests of Constantia and the city’s crowning symbol – Table Mountain – there’s a beautiful, and different, view around every corner.
The proud people of the Mother City can’t wait to welcome you with their inside information, so take heed, there’s plenty of choice if you’re a food lover. The Cape is home to an incredible range of high-quality eateries, with talented chefs taking advantage of the bounty of local ingredients.
Our luxurious base for this gourmet trip is the Winelands town of Franschhoek, just an hour’s drive from central Cape Town. It is known as the food and wine capital of South Africa, despite its village-like size. Franschhoek means French Corner in Afrikaans – the town was originally a French Huguenot enclave – and those early residents set about recreating tastes of home, but with the local flavours of this lush region.
We’re staying at Mont Rochelle, an intimate 26-bedroom hotel. As part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition collection, it comes with a seal of approval from a man who knows a thing or two about paradise spots. We have high expectations.
“Energetic souls can hike through the Nature Reserve, organise a round of golf on one of the six world-class courses or indulge with a spa treatment”
The first sight of Mont Rochelle is breathtaking. The traditional white property sits enveloped in an air of peacefulness. Surrounded by vineyards and mountains, it offers wrap-around views of the valley.
After a welcoming glass of bubbles in the cosy bar, we are shown to our Cap Classique Suite in the Vineyard Wing – in one word: sanctuary. There’s a separate lounge area off the bedroom, which comes come complete with a well-stocked (and inclusive) mini bar. There’s also a lovely private terrace with heated plunge pool overlooking the vineyards and mountains beyond. This is the space for some serious chilling.
Tempting though it is to contemplate heaven on earth from our terrace, there’s too much excitement to stay holed up here forever. Energetic souls can hike through the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve (one way to build up an appetite), organise a round of golf on one of the six world-class courses nearby or indulge with a spa treatment. Even at the hotel spa you know you’re in wine country because the signature facial includes grapes.
One of the best ways to enjoy the beautiful grounds of Mont Rochelle is to head out with a hotel-prepared picnic and a chilled bottle of wine (or two). To sample the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties grown here in more depth, head for the Country Kitchen adjacent to the wine cellar for a tasting – wine tasting is a recurring theme of any trip to this part of the world.
“To explore the grape varieties beyond Mont Rochelle, take the Wine Tram, departing regularly from the main square at Franschhoek”
To explore the sights and the richness of the grape varieties beyond the hotel, take the Wine Tram, which departs regularly from the main square at Franschoek. There are six routes to choose from on this traditional hop-on-hop-off open-air trolleybus that wends its way through fairytale streets, stopping at vineyards along the way. Taste and travel at your leisure – we proudly did four wineries in one hedonistic day.
Franschhoek is a sociable kind of place, so you are likely to make new friends along the way, and sample the delicious cuisine of the town. After our wine adventure, we wandered the picturesque streets – a pleasing mix of chic interiors boutiques, quaint independent stores, art galleries, pubs and coffee shops.
At the end of a hard day’s wine tasting, there’s no finer way to recuperate than poolside at Mont Rochelle – and then sample some more of its fabulous vintages. This is wineland wonderland, after all.
Mont Rochelle offers a variety of spaces, as well as exclusive hire, for wedding celebrations. For more information about weddings, or to make a hotel or restaurant reservation, visit virginlimitededition.com
Sandy recommends: 6 Franschhoek foodie hotspots
Miko – perfect food and wine pairings at Mont Rochelle’s signature restaurant virginlimitededition.com
Marigold – contemporary Indian cuisine; marigoldfranschhoek.com
La Petite Colombe – inventive and justly celebrated menu; lapetitecolombe.com
Foliage – inspired dishes from forager Chris Erasmus; foliage.co.za
Reuben’s – hearty SA fare with international flavours; reubens.co.za
Sacred Ground – great for coffee, snacks and people watching in the main square; sacredground.co.za
* Sandy Cadiz-Smith is a food writer and traveller. Read more about her foodie explorations at eatingcoventgarden.com