jilla ad final


Loading Flickr slideshow...

La Residence, Franschhoek

Katherine Brook visits the breathtaking vineyard & resort La Residence Franschhoek, South Africa

The Credentials

Nestled amongst the Winelands of the historic French heritage town of Franschhoek, is La Residence, a luxury five-star hotel. The 30-acre private estate is surrounded by mountains and their very own vineyards, where luscious bunches of grapes hang, waiting to be picked and turned into La Residence’s famous wines.

On arriving at the hotel, we were greeted with a glass of La Residence Rosé, and given a quick tour of the hotel, making sure we knew where all the important things were, like the pool, dining room, helipad, and veranda where guests gathered for sunset drinks.

The views are absolutely breathtaking, and although the hotel sleeps up to 22 guests, there is a sense of peace and tranquillity. The main hotel’s character reminded me of a converted barn, with its low-hanging wooden beams – although much more on the grand side, with high ceilings and giant chandeliers. A mismatch of vintage furniture hugs a traditional stone fireplace, from leather stalls to gold-rimmed armchairs and plush sofas – this lounge area is available to all guests, whether they want to relax with a book, a cocktail or even a nightcap and a cigar. There is also a small library, which overlooks the lounge room, full of books and games like chess – perfect if you want a little bit of respite.

Whether you want to go for a cycle or hike, hop from vineyard to vineyard, play a round of golf, or relax poolside, you couldn’t wish for a better spot than La Residence.


The main hotel has 11 rooms, ranging from luxury to superior suites. And just a short walk away are the Vineyard Suites, which are perfect for groups and families, with some sleeping up to six people. This area also has its own private chef in an open kitchen, overlooking the pool area. At any time during the day, guests can come and request a meal or snack; whatever they want, if the chef has it he’ll make it. Guests from the main hotel are welcome to use this restaurant and pool area if they wish, although the main hotel also has a beautiful pool and restaurant too.

We stayed in the main hotel, in the Luxury Suite. A picture of opulence and comfort, with views overlooking the gardens and valley. The bed was enormous, with fresh white sheets and a soft mattress that made it rather hard to get up in the morning – especially with the thick, blackout curtains. The room also had a desk, large TV and minibar filled with water, juice, soft drinks, spirits and 375ml bottles of wine. Sliding double doors separated the main room from the bathroom. Right in the middle was a deep bathtub, complete with bath salts and bubble bath. There were also two sinks (his and hers), and a shower.

After a long day out exploring the Cape Winelands, there was nothing better than coming back to a bubble bath, and then sitting on the balcony in your robe, with a nightcap in hand.


La Residence works on a farm-to-fork philosophy. Inspired by the wide variety of fresh produce grown on the working farm, Executive Chef Lennard Marais creates ever-changing, seasonal menus that appeal to all palates and pair perfectly with the sommelier-crafted wine list.

After a blissful night’s sleep, we were greeted with the smell of freshly baked muffins on our way to breakfast. A buffet table is set out from 6:30am at the main hotel and at the Vineyard Suites, with fresh fruit, pastries, yoghurt, rusks (a typical South African biscuit), pancakes, granola and those fresh muffins. Guests can take their pick from the spread, before taking their seat at one of the many tables, inside or outside, where they can order a cooked breakfast from their waiter. At the main hotel, it follows a menu, and I chose the classic poached eggs on toast with pickled cucumber and smoked trout, which was absolutely delicious. At the Vineyard Suite Kitchen, where we had breakfast the following morning, we could order whatever we fancied. I stuck to my scrambled eggs on sourdough bread, with avocado and mushrooms – it was just what I needed after an early morning trail run in Mont Rochelle.

One evening, we dined in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, a three-course menu, which changes every day. Starters included watermelon, tomato and bocconcini salad, sliced seared kudu loin with a nectarine and parmesan salad, both of which were delicious. Kudu meat is so tender and full of flavour. For a main, I had the seared trout, which was cooked perfectly, with a crispy skin and served with a creamy sauce and vegetables. It went perfectly with my glass of Chardonnay, recommended by the sommelier.

Franschhoek is also home to a variety of restaurants, whether you want a fine dining meal at one of the vineyard restaurants or choose to grab a bite in town.

Out and About

There is so much to do in Franschhoek, whether you want to go hiking for the day or visit the vineyards. Most people who stay at La Residence do the latter, we prefer a mixture of both, an activity in the morning and wine tasting in the afternoon. The beautiful Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is just a 10-minute drive away, which, if you like hiking or trail running, I’d certainly recommend visiting. The full loop is about 13 km with 1000m+ elevation but the views are so worth it. You can see all the way back to Cape Town, and the famous Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.

There are a few ways to visit the vineyards, either by taxi, by bike – which you can hire from the hotel – or you can take the famous Franschhoek wine tram! The wine tram goes from the centre of town regularly throughout the day and stops at a variety of vineyards. Some of them are quite commercialised, churning visitors in and out, while others are more formal, offering informative guided wine tastings. It’s a great experience and one I highly recommend. If there’s a vineyard that you want to visit which isn’t on the tram, it’s easy to get an Uber or the kind hotel staff may drop you if it’s local too. My recommendations would be Mullinleaux and Leeu, Babylonstoren, La Brie Estate, and Dieu Donné Vineyards.

If you’re after a little relaxation, La Residence can arrange a variety of treatments, from massages to pedicures. Or, why not grab a spot by the pool, overlooking the vineyards? You are welcome to help yourself to the soft drinks and wine, left in ice buckets by the pool – then sit back, and relax.

The Crowd

The hotel is for everyone from couples to groups and families – although I imagine children would be better in the Vineyard Suites. You may also see the odd celebrity or high-profile businessman – this is one of the most sought-after hotels in the Cape after all. The hotel is welcoming to everyone, no matter what room you choose or who you are. It was this feeling of inclusivity and acceptance that truly resonated with me during my stay.

The Worst Thing

When we rented the e-bikes we did have a few issues with them initially, as no one knew how to ride them / set them up, which resulted in us having to go to town to get new ones from the shop – this isn’t far. However, if you want to take a bike out and want an in-depth description of where you can ride the bikes (beyond to the vineyards and off-road too), then I’d ask to start from the shop, where they have great knowledge of the local area and trails.

The Best Thing

La Residence is a luxury escape, offering complete tranquillity from the outside world. While only a 5-minute drive into the main town – the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service – you could be a million miles away from anyone else. I loved this feeling of solitude, which my partner and I could escape to after a busy day out.

The Details

Rates start at R7500 / £340 per person and include breakfast, a full minibar and Franschhoek shuttle. If you’re lucky, the staff will also clean your car while you’re at the hotel…

021 671 5502
La Residence, Elandskloof Private Road, Elandskloof Farm, Franschhoek