by Nicole Cameron

Five-star La Residence

Doing Franschhoek in style

La Residence in Franschhoek
la residence.jpg

“Looks suitable for King Louis XVI,” my father-in-law said, perusing the postcard of our room at La Residence. Admittedly, when I’d first gone on to the website of the luxury Franschhoek hotel, the gallery depicting the various accommodation suites, en masse, took on an air of almost garish opulence and I started to wonder whether it was too late to source a Marie Antoinette fontange for my evening head gear and perhaps a powdered wig for my husband.

I was quite relieved then to pull up to the discreet low-lying exterior of La Residence, nestled in between vineyards and plum orchards and camouflaged against a spectacular mountain backdrop. Don’t get me wrong, once you step foot inside the main hall of the hotel, descriptive words like luxurious, extravagant, grand and sumptuous all apply – but somehow the barn-like structure that houses these plush furnishings grounds the atmosphere of La Residence into one of refinement, sophistication, and I guess what our colonial compatriots would term “sheer class”.

We were greeted on arrival with warm smiles and cold bubbly, and were soon floating down what manager Edward Morton calls the “60 metres of opulence”, an extensive checkerboard marble stretch that houses the dining area, reception rooms and mezzanine-level library on the far end. A sign of any fine establishment is its ability to transport guests out of their bourgeois reality and into the world “where the other half live”.

La Residence does this especially well, and it wasn’t long before I was padding around our suite’s bathroom (which, incidentally is about the size of my lounge) in slippers and a silk robe and half wondering when my lady-in-waiting would appear to dress me for dinner. When my husband reminded me that this delusive notion and further delays would sooner result in the kitchen closing and us missing dinner all together (leaving us to scrounge the loaded mini-bar for sustenance, quelle horreur!) I quickly donned my finery and off we went to the restaurant.

Food is something of a celebration at La Residence. Each and every meal consists of a set menu with a few course selections and a reminder from the service staff that this is merely a guide; with nothing that one’s stomach desires being beyond reach. We were happy to settle on a feast of quail, leek and potato soup, lamb cutlets and kingklip (which my husband pronounced the best he’d ever had, not a statement lightly made), along with some outrageously good lemon and poppy seed and chocolate homemade ice cream. Fast-forwarding to breakfast, after a restful night spent on Egyptian cotton sheets and a raised marble bed, we enjoyed the fact that the portion sizes were manageable, with much attention paid to fresh, crisp ingredients and Provencal-style presentation. The extravagant buffet of cereals, fruit, pastries and meats served to fill any unnecessary pangs.

With only a short time left before checking out, we were given a guided tour of the villas which are separate units a short vineyard stroll away from the main hotel and available for couples and families desiring a private stay with five-star comforts. Owner Liz Biden is personally responsible for the decorating at La Residence, and her creativity, flair and quirkiness is reflected in the individual identity of each and every room.

La Residence is a magnificent destination where the term 'seeing is believing' needs to be applied. My only gripe is that pictures simply do not do it justice. One needs to make a trip out there for a special occasion to fully experience everything it has to offer.


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Issue 64


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