Based in the iconic Paarl Winelands of South Africa, Pearl Valley Hotel by Mantis is a beautiful retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Cape Town, which is just an hour’s drive away. And if you love golf, you’re in luck, as the hotel is home to the award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course – voted second best in the country in 2021. There’s also a spa and two pools if you simply want to relax. Surrounded by mountains, the hotel is situated within the same estate as Val de Vie, a luxury wellness estate spanning 1000 hectares, with polo fields, the L’Huguenot wine cellar, Polo Pavillion restaurant, equestrian centres, tennis courts, cricket nets, soccer fields, play parks, 42 km of hiking, running and cycling trails. And the best bit, hotel guests have access to it all.
The hotel has recently gone through its second development and now has 63 one-bedroom suites, a wheelchair-friendly one-bedroom suite, and seven two-bedroom suites. The rooms are separate from the main hotel and have views of the mountains, lakes, and beautiful rolling landscape. Each room is designed like a studio with the bed, lounge area, and kitchen all in one, and a large balcony – an incredibly peaceful spot to sit with a morning coffee and watch the sunrise.
The decor is modern and simple but the bed’s soft, the bathroom large, and the setting tranquil, so I was more than happy. Plus, this isn’t the type of place where you do much more than sleep in the room, there’s just so much else to do both at the hotel and locally.
A selection of toiletries, chocolates by the bed, a robe and slippers, and tea and coffee were just a few of the lovely little touches.
There are two restaurants at Pearl Valley Hotel, the Valley Restaurant and Back’s Deli, which is within the small village-like apartments of the hotel complex. The Valley serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has views of the golf course. The menu showcases fresh, seasonal produce, with dishes such as seafood risotto, harissa lamb wontons, pizzas, and fish of the day. There’s also a sushi menu, which I dined from a few times – everything from sashimi to rock shrimp rolls and maki. You could tell it had just been made, and the portions were very generous.
Alongside the fresh bread, pastries, and cakes in Backs Deli, there is a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, drinks, meats, cheeses, ice cream and yoghurt. They also have a restaurant, which is popular with guests looking for quick, easy, but tasty food, from breakfast to dinner. On days I was in a hurry to climb one of the peaks in the Simonsberg mountains, I’d just grab a croissant and coffee to go, but on the mornings I had a little more time, I would sit down for a proper brunch – more often than not it was smashed avo on toast with poached eggs. For lunch and dinner, the menu is small but there’s something for everyone, with dishes such as steak, fishcakes, and poke bowls.
If you’re looking for more of a sophisticated meal, head over to Val de Vie, and visit the Polo Pavillion by Backs. Looking over the polo field, the restaurant is beautiful, with large glass windows, plants towering in every corner, and a huge fireplace. Pop in for a drink, lunch, or dinner, and enjoy the views (and amazing food). We tried the exotic grilled prawns, with mango and chilli, seafood pasta, with an abundance of seafood, as well as some truffle and parmesan chips on the side. I was intrigued by the ‘beetcrust’ pizza, but we just didn’t have enough time to try it all.
For pre-dinner drinks, I recommend popping into Val de Vie’s own wine bar, Wijn. Featuring the estate’s own wine, and an ever-changing menu showcasing some of the best wines South Africa has to offer. You can also dine at Wijn too, grazing on sharing plates of Melanzana, baked camembert and grilled seafood.
Guests can choose to eat breakfast at any of the three restaurants. My top pick goes to The Valley, as you can sit in the morning sunshine and watch the golfers practise on the putting course – a little bit of entertainment! Menus are similar wherever you choose, with your typical granola bowls, fruit, eggs done any way you like, pancakes and french toast, all making the cut.
Out and About
Pearl Valley Hotel is in the middle of the Winelands, with the closest wine farm less than 10 minutes away. Two of my favourites are Babylonstoren, for its beautiful gardens, and Allee Bleue, for its exquisite wines and top service. I highly recommend the Chardonnay at both, and Allee Bleue’s 2017 Shiraz is beautifully smooth and full-bodied.
Just 30 minutes away is the popular town of Stellenbosch, and a little further is Franchoek. Spend your afternoon wandering the streets, hop on the wine tram (be ready for a day of fast-paced wine tasting), or take a hike up a nearby mountain. If you would rather leave the car behind, the hotel can arrange a driver for you – just ask.
At the hotel itself, there is plenty to do. Golf may be the first thing that comes to mind but if you’re not into your golf, don’t be deterred (If you are, you better book your tee time). There are two large pools to relax by, the Camelot Spa, which offer luxury treatments from hydrotherapy to manicure and pedicures, massages and even a hair salon. There’s also a gym if you feel like working up a sweat; it’s not huge but has everything you need.
Sunrise at Pearl Valley really is beautiful and if you’re an early riser I recommend taking a walk around the golf course before 7am (you can’t walk on it after then), and enjoy the total serenity of the peaceful morning.
There was an array of people at the hotel, from couples in their mid-twenties to families and elderly couples. I even saw some lads on a stag do (the bright shirts gave it away). Pearl Valley is huge though, so it never feels overcrowded and busy.
The Worst thing
The rooms lack a bit of character. They do the job, are comfortable, modern, and clean, but could do with some artwork or plush furniture to brighten them up.
The Best Thing
The staff were all incredibly accommodating and welcoming. Day trips were seamlessly organised, with visits to multiple wine farms and even a tour of the estate. We also stepped up to the challenge of playing some golf. Well, we had a golf lesson. And were surprised at how fun it was.
Rates start at R2,400 / ca. £127 a night, for a one-bed suite. Breakfast / half-board are additional, although packages can be bought prior to stay.