La Residence is a Tuscan-influenced Cape Dutch Farmhouse with more than a hint of Louis XV (that could be why this is one of Elton John's favourites). The product of a union between an interior designer and an art historian, this small hotel is a wickedly garish montage of exposed roof beams, Tuscan arches and loggias, dazzling period pieces and Victorian art deco. The baronial lounge and dining area, with its open-plan kitchen, showcases walk-in fireplaces, a four-metre hand-cut glass chandelier and is decorated with antiques. If the opulent glam-rock house doesn’t bowl you over, the setting might: on the edge of a private dam in the Franschhoek valley, surrounded by lines of vineyards and sheer mountains that rise into the blue sky like monumental dinosaur skeletons.
Accommodation here is nothing short of regal. The 11 suites are so big you could fly a glider in them, the four-posters are lost in the centre and the bathrooms dwarf mid-sized hotel rooms. The double-volume living area is a rich contrast to the simple beauty framed by each picture window. Each suite has its own private balcony which provides panoramic views and allows the fresh mountain air to seep into your soul. Guests can relax during the day in the palm-fringed courtyard and catch a tan beside the infinity pool. Wander through the vineyards and fruit orchards on scenic walks, and explore the fragrant gardens and private dam.
Despite its veneer of bourgeois collectors' items, life at La Residence, while retaining all the elements of a luxury hotel, is simple and relaxing. Sofas, a crackling fire and steaming mugs of hot chocolate lure you into the kitchen to chat with the chefs at work preparing your food; summer salads and seafood are served on the shaded terrace and winter tagines and soups in the firelit banquet room. Unlike the other Royal Portfolio properties which are Full Board, the La Residence rates are for bed and breakfast and include local beverages - this is because of the sheer number of fantastic restaurants on your doorstep in Franschhoek - some of South Africa's finest, including Reuben's and Le Quartier Francais. Between meals the vineyards and estates offer invigorating scenic walks and private wine tastings. What about wine tasting on horse back, cheese tasting or even a spot of trout fishing?
Villas in the Vineyard!
The Villas at La Residence offer laid back luxury in a tranquil and timeless setting. Commanding spectacular mountain views and nestling amidst vineyards and orchards, they provide a new level of privacy and exclusivity. A stone’s throw from the property's Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz vines, the 5 individually-designed Villas have been beautifully decorated by owner Liz Biden. Once again, Liz has brought together her love for vibrant colours, fabric, furniture and family living to produce an excitingly different concept in stylish country retreats. The Villas are set apart from one another but share a spacious open-plan Terrace Room where butlers and private chefs offer personalized service of the highest order. The elegant but relaxed and child-friendly environment includes a state-of-the-art widescreen television, a rimflow swimming pool and lush green lawn. Along with the total privacy afforded by the secluded location, the essence of the La Residence Villa experience is flexibility. Meals can be served in your own Villa and enjoyed either outside on the terrace or inside, cosily, beside a roaring open fire. And while all six share the same cool travertine floors and dramatic vistas, each one has a unique configuration of rooms so all possible requirements can be catered for. For example, Villa 3 with its sumptuous oversized bedroom and giant four-poster, would be perfect for the ultimate honeymoon or anniversary treat while the interlinked Villas 4 and 5 would provide a wonderful venue for a party of ten gathering to celebrate an occasion or simply enjoy a holiday in the Winelands.
The décor throughout the Villas is refreshingly eclectic. A bold interplay of scale, pattern and colour conveys a sense of exuberant joie de vivre. Shades one might find in a traditional Tuscan retreat – soft greens, ochres and parchment – are enlivened and offset by bright pinks and eye-popping reds and purples. The classic and the contemporary, the subtle and the strong – artful juxtaposition is the key. With their luscious swags of silk and glittering chandeliers, these Villas form an inspired counterpoint to their majestic mountain surrounds while remaining reassuringly comfortable and easygoing.