Claire recently stayed at Angala Boutique Hotel and Guest House, a wonderful hotel just outside of Franschhoek that offers the perfect country break. Here she enjoyed a relaxing holiday with amazing food and breathtaking views.
It was on a rather grey and chilly day that we headed out of Cape Town for a night away at the beautiful Angala Boutique Hotel near Franschhoek. Driving over the Helshoogte Pass I was once again reminded just why I love the winelands in autumn. In my opinion the burnished coppers, reds and yellows of the vineyards against the moody grey sky is more spectacular than on a summer's day.
After a stop-off at Tokara Deli for lunch (one of the best lunchtime views!) we wound our way down Helshoogte, through the quaint village of Pniel, before turning left onto the R45 for a brief stretch before arriving at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate. Angala Boutique Hotel is about 2km up this road nestled spectacularly with a backdrop of mountains and pretty farmland views spreading out below.
Wispy threads of clouds were determined to hover on the mountain peaks, but we were welcomed to Angala as rays of sunshine were breaking through - an apt welcome to what was going to be a wonderfully warm night away.
We were immediately shown to our room which was beautifully decorated in natural tones and textures with warm wood, shades of grey and special touches like a beautiful posy of fresh flowers. French doors led onto a private patio - the perfect spot to soak up a little bit of afternoon sun and enjoy a cup of Nespresso coffee and homemade biscuit from the complimentary tea and coffee station (this also included a complimentary selection of soft drinks, wines and spirits). We were thrilled to find a free-standing fire place in the lounge area and a comfy couch for cosying up with a book - or to watch a DVD or a bit of TV. The room was wonderfully appointed with all the little touches that add up to making a luxurious stay - beautiful linen, fluffy white bathrobes, candles in the bathroom - and a basket overflowing with wood for our fire. Even the fire starters had been remembered.
The super spacious en-suite bathroom was a real treat with a lovely big tub and walk in shower AND, a simply fabulous outdoor shower surrounded by decking and overlooking the garden and view beyond. Sadly it wasn't quite 'outdoor-shower-weather' during our stay, but I guess that means we'll need to plan another visit to do the shower justice.
The architecture, décor and gardens at Angala are simply stunning and the property, which was formerly known as the Cathbert Country Inn, has undergone extensive renovations and refurbishments over the past couple of years. The end result is one of light and airy spaces, clean lines and loads of little personal touches that make you feel immediately at ease. It's not surprising that Angala hosts popular yoga and art weekends - there is simply an air of serenity here that is apparent the minute you step through the door. One of the main changes to the landscape is the new eco-pool; surrounded by water-lilies, rushes and natural decking which blends seamlessly into the surroundings - it is the perfect spot to relax and contemplate the view.
After a brief stroll around the property (we'd bring our running shoes next time) we spent a wonderfully relaxing and quiet afternoon in our suite with the fire blazing and surrounded by a pile of books and magazines. Come evening, we were more than ready for dinner which we had chosen to enjoy at Angala. The manager on duty had offered us the option of dining in our room, but we decided to make our way to the dining area where we were shown to a romantic table for two positioned in front of the fireplace. The hotel has a small a la carte menu which is expertly prepared and presented and served with a fine selection of local wines. We were in for a real treat. Each of the three courses was excellent- my springbok loin wrapped in pancetta and served with a mouth watering butternut struddle and cauliflower mash was the perfect winter warmer meal, and my husbands beef fillet with wild mushrooms was equally delicious. I must admit, we were defeated half-way through dessert and after enjoying the sublime crème brulèe, we had to take the remaining slice of heavenly chocolate torte back to our room as a late night snack. We couldn't leave the dinner table without complimenting the chef. After a lovely chat with head chef Marlin, we discovered he had been responsible for a meal we had eaten once upon a time at another Franschhoek restaurant - and which had made such an impression that we could still remember it years later!
Not surprisingly we slept exceptionally well in our warm and cosy haven and we even got to enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee in bed the following morning - a rare treat being parents to two young children! We eventually dragged ourselves to breakfast which was enjoyed once again in the chic dining area with its beautiful views. Chatting over breakfast, my husband and I agreed that Angala would be the perfect location for a small special occasion such as a 40th birthday, or a milestone wedding anniversary. With just ten rooms, it would be ideal to book the entire venue - or perhaps the 4 luxury suites which are alongside each other for a slightly smaller group. Angala has a private dining room available for small groups and they are happy to tailor make packages - something to think about if you're looking for the perfect venue for an upcoming celebration!
It's worth mentioning that Angala Boutique Hotel is not in the heart of Franschhoek - but rather about a 15 minute drive away. It's an ideal base from which to explore not only Franschhoek but the other surrounding wine regions of Stellenbosch and Paarl, as well as some of the excellent golf courses nearby. If you're looking to be right in the heart of Franschhoek, then perhaps Angala isn't for you - but if you're looking for a quiet and tranquil retreat to call home while you explore the winelands, or like ourselves, a luxury weekend escape, then Angala cannot be faulted. The fact that so many of their guests are foreign visitors who return year after year is testament to the fact that their service and personal touches are something special.
To find out more about Angala and to book a weekend away in Franschhoek, click here.
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