The 12 best wine hotels in South Africa

Gifted with a perfect climate and rich soil, South Africa plays its hand well, building upon the European plantations of the 17th century to become the seventh-largest wine producer worldwide. A bastion of New World wines, South Africa is a top choice for wine tourists keen on sampling the crisp chardonnay of Stellenbosch and the dark-toned shiraz of Paarl first hand. Today we sip our way slowly through the best white and red wine from South Africa on a hotel-hopping tour of the Cape Winelands, covering Stellenbosch, Constantia, the Western Cape and beyond.

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Photo: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

Exploring the Cape Wine Route

For vino-loving travellers setting their sights on South Africa, Cape Town is an excellent jumping-off point, close to some of the best beaches of South Africa, iconic natural landscapes, and – more importantly, today – the Cape Winelands, an area spanning well-known wine regions such as Franschhoek and Stellenbosch as well as lesser-known gems such as Robertson Wine Valley. The most popular wine tour Cape Town has to offer covers the whole of the Cape Wine Route to pass an outstanding selection of wineries and estates, many of which double up as winery hotels. Whether you’re looking for a boutique retreat complete with spa treatments and bottomless merlot, or you’d rather stay active on hiking, biking and boating tours of the region before returning to a shiraz on the farm, the Cape Winelands have it all, in view of majestic mountain ranges and rolling vineyards.

1. Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa is our opener on the stunning Helshoogte Mountain Pass of Stellenbosch wine region, secluded on an estate of manicured gardens, vineyards with sweeping views over the region. At Delaire Graff Estate, lodges are never far from the shared 22m spa infinity pool, though private heated plunge pools on each sundeck ensure guests can go unseen. Unique African artwork comes featured all around the property luxurious lodges, a restorative spa, landmark boutiques and two fine dining restaurants; Indochine and Delaire Graff Restaurant, where the skilled teams serve up sustainable and innovative cuisine from only the finest local produce, all complemented by the Estate’s award-winning wine portfolio.

Photo: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

Photo: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

2. Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard

Our next choice takes us beyond Stellenbosch to the rival region of Franschhoek, under an hours’ drive east of Cape Town, to land on Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard. A traditional vineyard town with French influence, Franschhoek may be small but is very well known for producing some of the best wines in South Africa alongside world-class cuisine. Mont Rochelle itself takes up some 90 acres of hilly land, upon which the hotel produces four varieties of wine. Guests can sample each on tasting tours of the vineyard plots and cellar, pairing your favourites with fine locally-sourced fare at restaurant Miko or the more casual Country Kitchen. Other features to keep you amused include the garden games and tennis courts, a Turkish hammam spa (offering spice-infused Cape-Malay treatments) and an outdoor pool overlooking the Franschhoek Mountains.

3. Babylonstoren

For upmost luxury in a rustic farm setting, Babylonstoren will appeal, based upon one of the oldest Cape Dutch properties, a short distance from both Franschhoek and Paarl wine regions. In the foothills of Simonsberg, Babylonstoren enjoys easy access to two of the best wine regions in South Africa as well as dappled sunshine across its eight-acre kitchen garden and working farm. Humble in its daily undertakings, Babylonstoren is actually one of the most stylish hotels in the Cape Winelands, providing guests with contemporary design and well-preserved 18th-century architecture across its 13 cottage suites. By day, guests can cool off in the dam-style swimming pool, biking or canoeing around the farm before refuelling on generous farm-to-table Engelbrecht fare at the hugely popular Babel restaurant. If Babel happens to be booked, go hard on homemade granola, eggs and fresh fruit at breakfast then lunch-ing at Greenhouse instead.

Photo: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

4. Boschendal

Boschendal is another heritage find in the Cape Winelands, a farm turned luxury boutique hotel based upon 2,000 acres in Drakenstein Valley (close to both Stellenbosch and Franschhoek) since the 17th century. Its award-winning winery draws visitors from far and wide for some of the best red wine in South Africa (merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon) alongside vintage whites (chardonnay and sauvignon blanc). Live alongside fellow connoisseurs on one of the estate’s authentic Cape Dutch cottages, all of which come with self-catering facilities for those who wish to cook their own produce bought from Boschendal’s Farmshop & Deli. Otherwise, the hotel’s two on-site restaurants can prepare everything for you; namely, the Rhone Homestead buffet and the flagship Werf Restaurant, where most of the ingredients for their quality platters come sourced within 30 kilometres.

5. Steenberg Hotel & Spa

Our first offering in Constantia Valley is a fine one, standing since the 17th century as the oldest registered wine farm on the Cape. This is Steenberg Hotel & Spa, appealing to today’s guests with elegant renovation and contemporary touches across its 24 rooms. Perfectly positioned just 20 minutes from Cape Town, Steenberg Hotel & Spa has an elevated front-row view over Table Mountain, making for some truly memorable wine tastings from the Manor House or adjacent tasting centre. Award-winning sauvignon blanc and nebbiolo are two wines to try here, alongside some of the best sparkling wine in South Africa, namely Cap Classique. The hotel’s two restaurants – Tryn and Bistro Sixteen82 – only add to the experience, following a day of picturesque swinging at the 18-hole championship golf course. Additional facilities include the secluded pool lounge and African-inspired spa, perfect for resetting after a day of biking and hiking in the Constantia mountains or along the Cape Peninsula coast.

Photo: Steenberg Hotel & Spa

Mr. Hudson highlight image

Hawksmoor House is blessed with views over Table Mountain foregrounded by rose and lavender gardens, a scene best enjoyed at sunset over a glass of the finest red wine

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6. Hawksmoor House

Another Stellenbosch Wine Route sensation is the property at Hawksmoor House, decidedly low-key for its lack of WiFi on a working wine farm and Cape Dutch country house. Spread out from the main house, 16 white-washed rooms provide five-star seclusion and verdant views, all distinct in their charms with warm, antique accents. A popular wedding venue, Hawksmoor House is blessed with views over Table Mountain foregrounded by rose and lavender gardens, a scene best enjoyed at sunset over a glass of the finest red wine South Africa can offer. Of the South Africa best wines to try, Hawksmoor offers a range of chenin blanc, pinotage and mourvedre that can’t be beaten.

Photo: Hawksmoor House

Photo: Hawksmoor House

7. The Robertson Small Hotel

Sitting on ‘the valley of wine and roses’ in the Western Cape province is The Robertson Small Hotel, an intimate boutique hotel in the heart of Robertson town, where food and wine take precedence. This sentiment could not be truer at the Robertson Small Restaurant where seasonal Italian-inspired dishes comes prepared from local ingredients and are beautifully presented either within the manor house or on the garden patio. Enjoy choice wines from the valley or a G&T at the EM Bar, taking time out for treatments at The Wellness Room when the urge arrives. The property is within walking distance of all the best Robertson attractions – including the Robertson Art Gallery and the House of Golden Khan – with two outdoor pools making for the ultimate afternoon retreat.

8. Franschhoek Boutique Hotel

Living up to its name, the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel is a five-star offering just off Franschhoek’s Main Street, a delightful place to stay for its dappled courtyards and oak-lined streets in view of undulating vineyards spread over the surrounding Cape Fold Mountains. Besides winning views and some of the best wines South Africa has to offer, the town is packed full of great restaurants, art galleries and boutique shops, best seen by hopping on and off the Franschhoek Wine Tram. Take a romantic weekend at one of Franschhoek Boutique Hotel’s 12 bespoke rooms, getting cosy on an armchair beside the fireplace or gazing out on the mountains from your Juliet balcony. On warmer days, guests can pre-order a picnic to take out or simply try any of the numerous cafes and restaurants around town.

Photo: Hawksmoor House

9. Bosjes

More of the best wine in South Africa comes bottled in Breede Valley’s Bosjes, a family farm and guesthouse just outside Worcester in the Western Cape. As down-to-earth as it is intimate, Bosjes is good for families and couples keen on getting back to nature. The converted barn at the heart of Bosjes farm hosts five luxury suites, pairing natural woods and wide windows with sleek modern design. Outside in the gardens, guests are granted panoramas of the mountains as well as water elements and an elevated maze for tranquil wanders. Up the ante with hiking and birdwatching off-site in Waaihoek Mountain, returning to base for a bistro-style meal to remember at Bosjes Kombuis restaurant.

10. Lanzerac Hotel & Spa

In our endless search for the best beds in South Africa, Lanzerac Hotel & Spa comes out top. And while it is one of the oldest wine estates in the Cape region (dating back to 1692), a full refurbishment in 2017 saw to it that Lanzerac’s 50-odd suites became more luxurious than ever. Now guests can plunge into pools from their own private patios, gazing out over the property’s 400 acres of manicured gardens and vineyards, all framed by mountains. The Lanzerac Hotel & Spa is a perfect mix of old and new for visitors to Stellenbosch, providing authentic retreats served by an on-site spa, deli and two restaurants – the pub-style Taphuis and the classic Manor Kitchen – alongside a wine tasting room and several shared swimming pools.

11. La Residence

Simply labelled La Residence, this Domaine des Anges estate among the vineyards of Franschhoek Valley is much more striking than the name suggests. Inspired by a traditional French country chateau, La Residence brings all the sophistication of Europe’s old wineries with none of the pretension. While outside the property looks distinctly modern, inside is all colonial romance, with Persian rugs lining the hallways, fine art and mirrors gracing the walls and marble four-poster beds in the suites. Charming visitors with its warm service and lush location, La Residence has all the features you might expect – pool, library and terrace – all centred on the open-plan dining and beverage rooms where expert sommeliers pair seasonal local cheeses and meats with the most amazing South African red wine you’ll ever taste.

Photo: La Residence

Photo: La Residence

Mr. Hudson highlight image

After a day of tramming around town (on the Wine Tram), return to base to make use of the spa and gym, before dining inside or outside at the Conservatory restaurant and watching the sunset over the mountains from the main terrace

12. Leeu House

Finishing on one last beauty in the Franschhoek Valley, we recommend Leeu House, where guests can discover more of the best wine from South Africa in a secluded yet centrally located 12-room boutique hotel. This five-star property comes just moments away from the esteemed restaurants, galleries and bars of Franschhoek high street, but back on site, the oasis gardens and pool ensure guests can count on some peace and quiet. After a day of tramming around town (on the Wine Tram), return to the estate to make use of the Leeu Spa by Healing Earth and gym, before dining at the Conservatory restaurant and watching the sun set over the mountains from the main terrace. Other dining options worth exploring across the way include Protégé and Epice at sister property Le Quartier Français, right next door to Leeu Collections’ Tuk Tuk Microbrewery, or take the shuttle up the mountain to Le Chêne in the manor house on Leeu Estates.

Main image courtesy of Leeu House.

Photo: Leeu House

Photo: Leeu House

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Photo: Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa

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