The Grande Roche is one of South Africa’s most famous hotels. It’s hosted no fewer than three of my good friends on their honeymoons (three separate couples that is – they were not a thrupple as seems to be the style of the times).
My folks have wanted to stay at the Grande Roche for a good few years now. What better time to visit just as the Bosman’s restaurant was voted into South Africa’s Top 5 Restaurants by Eat Out Magazine.
We stayed for four days. Four days of unmitigated bliss. Surely one of the most relaxing settings on the planet – the grounds and gardens are immaculate. Vintage, straw-roofed, Cape Dutch manor houses amid vineyards, ancient oaks, billiard-table lawns, raffia palms and rose gardens.
The vibe is classical and elegant and the service is exceptional, warm, professional and personal. Not to mention rather easy on the eye. As well as local staff, there seems to be an emphasis on recruiting from the sommelier and hotel schools in Sweden.
There was a real Festive Season buzz in the air when we arrived. Beaming smiles and glasses of bubbly overlooking the vineyard and the mountains beyond were the order of the day as our baggage was whisked away to the newly refurbished rooms. It’s much like the Mount Nelson in this regard. The rooms were badly in need of an overhaul to bring them up to the standard of the grounds, restaurants and the service. Only the Duplex suites at the Grande Roche remain to be done, so just check that you don’t get one of these before they are refurbished. After that they intend to redo the poolside spa facility which is certainly past its best.
The tome of a wine list and the exceptional cuisine will follow you around the property. Be warned though – the wine list is both extensive and expensive. Quaffing a decanted Bordeaux recommended by the sommelier (in crisp white shirts, with black ties and aprons) is a rather splendid occasion here, while culinary temptation lies behind every manicured hedge. Whether it’s a light lunch on your private terrace, a quick salad by one of the two pools (kept at 28 degrees no less), a relaxed dinner at the intimate Bistro Allegro or the tasting menu with wine pairing at Bosman’s, the gourmands out there should take note. Ambling from poolside to meal time, there is no better place to relax and unwind.
The Grande Roche