High and Low Hotels: South African Wine Country
$728 per night
La Residence, Franschhoek
Location An 11-room hotel on a 30-acre farm and vineyard overlooking the upscale enclave of Franschhoek. First Impressions High marks for the welcome: general manager Edward Morton greets guests with a posy of roses in the porte cochère, followed quickly by a staffer with a flute of sparkling wine. Rooms Each suite is unique: the Hibiscus is a riot of pinks, the Tibetan has prayer scrolls, and the Maharani’s bathroom is outfitted with crimson-lacquered armoires. Pedigree The property is by Liz Biden, the woman behind the exclusive Birkenhead House, outside Cape Town, and the Royal Malewane, near Kruger National Park. Drawbacks We call the hybrid of styles “global glamour”; enthusiasts of the local Dutch-influenced architecture should look elsewhere. Don’t Miss An interactive dining experience with the executive chef. Guests can hone their skills in the auxiliary kitchen, then feast on grilled kudu loin. Value Factor All the important extras—stocked mini-bar; organic breakfast—are included in the room rate. Doubles from $728.
$95 per night
Hawksmoor House, Stellenbosch
Location An 18th-century Cape Dutch house on a 544-acre farm with expansive views of Table Mountain, 18 miles from La Residence. First Impressions The arrival’s a bit dusty, but style abounds: gallery-quality antiques, an Aga range in the shabby-chic kitchen, and excellent wines in the honor bar. Rooms Eight in all, many with original moldings, deep-set windows, and retro prints. Pedigree Hawksmoor is the first hotel venture from four friends: a decorator, a property developer, a businessman, and a former travel consultant. Drawbacks Don’t expect 24-hour room service, an obsequious staff or, in summer, to go without seeing the occasional baboon spider. Hey, it’s a farm, and you’re in Africa. Don’t Miss A chat with manager Maike Harms, who has contacts at all the top restaurants, wineries, and tour companies from Cape Town to the Karoo. Value Factor You get free run of a historic property and access to the best of everything in the region, all for less than the cost of a dinner for two. What’s a little dust on the shoes?Doubles from $95, including breakfast.