|Photo by Freeimages.com/Patty Ghillebert|
by John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, June 2, 2016
About an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Franschhoek ’s charms are numerous. In the Stellenbosch Municipality, this vineyard-coated valley is a heartland for South Africa’s wineries and a hub for epicureans; its Huguenot heritage and Cape Dutch architecture give the region a distinctly European flavour; and the surrounding mountains and hiking trails are a lure for visitors seeking a break from the relative bustle of the Mother City. For the many visitors who’ve wondered what it might be like to set up a home from home in the locality, Virgin Limited Edition’s newly launched Manor House provides a taster opportunity.
Purpose-built on a secluded plot within the 39-hectare grounds of the Mont Rochelle Hotel, the abode provides full access to the surrounding facilities but guests will find close to hand all they might need to comfortably remain in situ. In total the house can accommodate eight adults in four bedrooms, and up to six children in an additional bunkroom; alongside a private gym and games room with pool table, they’ll have sole use of two pools – one in the courtyard and another positioned to capture views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains – and garden in which to sunbathe or enjoy lawn games.
Much of it open-plan, internal living space is simply finished in taupe and cream, with exposed wooden beams and bare stone walls; in summer, floor-to-ceiling windows between the kitchen and dining room can be concertinaed so guests will have unrestricted access to the terrace and pool.
That setting should provide a focal point for socialising, and guests will be able to indulge in what’s on offer without constraint. Hire of the house will include all drinks, including some exceptional wines from the surrounding cellars and premium spirits, as well as breakfast and either a three-course lunch or dinner each day.
Meals can be taken by the braai or at the 12-person dining table at Manor House itself, where a private chef will work with guests to create a menu suitable for their requirements, or at Mont Rochelle’s Miko and Country Kitchen restaurants. Further culinary options are found about 20 minutes’ walk away in the restaurants, patisseries and cafes of Franschhoek, and the house is a quick amble from the hotel’s winery should oenophiles want to explore its collection further.
More sophisticated options still are available in Cape Town – gourmets passing through the city should make special effort to secure a booking at the fantastic Luke Dale-Roberts restaurant The Test Kitchen; for accommodation in the city I was particularly impressed by Ellerman House, named one of the world’s best hotels by The Telegraph earlier this year – and Virgin Limited Edition is also marketing Manor House as a relaxed stop-off point in a more comprehensive South Africa holiday that would include a safari. Also part of the Sir Richard Branson-owned collection, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve stands in the Sabi Sand, adjacent to the Kruger National Park and is about an hour’s flight from Johannesburg, or half a day’s travel from Mont Rochelle.
To be hired for a minimum of two nights, rates at Mont Rochelle's Manor House start at R46,800 (about £2,000) per night based on eight adults sharing; rates for children vary dependent on age.
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This article was written by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.