Written by Kelly van der Poll at RedLip PR
The RedLip PR team was lucky enough to experience Franschhoek’s astounding winelands and the dramatic coastline of Hermanus at several peerless Royal Portfolio properties, during ILTM Africa. Royal Portfolio offers travellers the opportunity to experience the utmost best of South Africa, in true luxury.
We started our ILTM Africa journey in Franschhoek, which is Dutch for ‘French Corner’. Franschhoek is a charming little town where the laid-back café culture has a remarkable French charm. Full of attractions, Franschhoek is famous for its breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world class cuisine and some of the finest wines the Cape has to offer, which all combine to create lasting memories.
La Residence was our first stop. There are several quirks which make this astonishing estate so special, one of which is its location in the heart of rambling Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vineyards, olive groves and plum orchards. La Residence’s remarkable staff welcomed us on arrival with a glass of their famous Cabernet Sauvignon and a tour of the property – they really excel at making each guest feel like royalty with personalised service. Every corner we turned was beyond spectacular, with every inch of the hotel impossibly picture perfect.
We stayed in the remarkable Villa 2, which – like the rest of the property – is decorated in a truly extravagant and unique style. Each suite and villa has its own colour scheme and design, from rich orange tones to blue and yellow velvets or silks and each offering its own spectacular view of the beautiful mountains, to give guests a little taste of France in the Cape Winelands.
As the evening approached, we were treated to wine tasting in the cellar and dinner in the Great Hall, stacked with dazzling chandeliers, the floor in striking black and white Victorian tiles and a fireplace gently crackling in the background – the perfect cosy spot to enjoy a five-course dinner.
Waking up in the villa was breath-taking. The morning dew glistening on the green grass as the sun tried to peek over the mountain set the tone for the day. As we walked to the Great Hall for breakfast, the hotel’s only permanent guests – the peacocks – welcomed us by showing off their magnificent colours – what a way to start the day! Breakfast at La Residence is nothing short of lavish, with a buffet teeming with cereals, fruits, cheeses, meats and pastries – with a scrumptious hot breakfast menu available as well. Having found it impossible to settle on just one thing, we sampled almost everything – and then just had to walk it off by spending the morning exploring the beautiful little town.
Franschhoek’s laid-back café culture, remarkable French charm and architecture is astonishing. The town is small enough to explore on foot, with a new surprise around every corner. Having wandered the quaint streets for a few hours, it was lunchtime before we knew it – and La Petite Ferme (French for ‘the small farm’) was calling. La Petite Ferme specialises in homely, country-style cuisine – just perfect for the setting. The view from our table was phenomenal, affording us a view overlooking the town, with the mountains, a dramatic backdrop. As we toasted with a glass of white wine and enjoyed their artfully styled cuisine (which tasted as amazing as it looked!) the weather started to build up – a truly mesmerising thing to watch from our perfect perch.
After washing the valley with welcome rains, the clouds cleared dramatically in time for the sunset – and what a sunset it was. We all gathered outside on the terrace and watched the sun sink into the pond. It couldn’t have been more picture-perfect with the golden rays glittering over the water and the sky, pink as can be.
We’d been enjoying ourselves so much that dinnertime was upon us before we knew it. Our next stop was the magnificent Haute Cabriere, the estate famous for its beautifully serene underground cellar built into the side of Franschhoek Mountain. Set deep in the stone cellar, the dining room overlooks the maturation cellar on one side with panoramic views of Franschhoek on the other – as spectacular as our sunset sighting had been, it would have been incredible to watch it from this vantage point. Another roaring fireplace made the dining room feel so comforting, setting the perfect tone for a meal which delivered bold flavours on the back of classic cooking techniques. After an appetizing 3 course dinner, it was time to head back to La Residence to enjoy one last evening of luxury.
We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our ILTM Africa journey, with Franschhoek and all it has to offer finding a permanent and special place in our hearts … and tummies.