Some people are surprised to come across a quintessentially French village in the midst of South Africa’s beautiful wine region. Tucked in the shadows of Mont Rochelle Mountain is Franschhoek (the Afrikaans word for French corner), once a sanctuary for French Huguenot refugees fleeing France in the 17th-century. More than 300 years later, their influence still runs deep in the Winelands town’s perfectly manicured lanes. Case in point: Bastille Day is celebrated with aplomb in an exuberant festival every July. These days, Franschhoek is known as the heart of South Africa’s booming wine industry, and has beautiful hotels and award-winning restaurants to match. You’ll spend your days tasting wines and your evenings dining on Michelin-worthy feasts, but when it’s time to tuck in for the night, there’s no shortage of fabulous hotels to choose from. Unwind at sweeping Cape Dutch manor houses tucked away on sprawling wine farms, or cozy up at chic inns near the town’s main drag, named—what else?—Huguenot Street.
Le Quartier Francais
Spend some time in this boutique hotel's 17 rooms and suites (clustered around a rose garden and a swimming pool), and you'll forget you're right in the heart of Franschhoek. Its celebrated restaurant, The Tasting Room, is ranked among San Pellegrino's list of the world's best restaurants. Also worth a visit is the hotel's gallery, Is Art, which recently relocated to a larger space across the street.
You might check in to La Résidence, situated on a 30-acre estate, expecting old-world glamour. You'll find that in spades, to be sure, but jazzed up in a distinctly modern way: unexpected splashes of orange, chartreuse, or lemon, or perhaps a boldly patterned rug. Many rooms boast Asian paintings and antiques—a testament to owner Liz Biden’s unique design flair. The result is an opulent French chateau with an Oriental twist.
When posh Capetonians want to decamp to the country, Le Franschhoek is, more often than not, their hotel of choice. Inside you'll find sleek white-on-white rooms, heated floors, and a popular spa (try the signature massage, a combination of hot stone, kahuna, Balinese, and Indian head techniques); outside, sublime views of the Franschhoek Mountains.
La Clé des Montagnes
The four self-catering villas at La Clé des Montagnes are perfect for families, though this property goes the extra mile with a 24-hour butler service at your disposal, too. Just because you have your own kitchen doesn't mean you have to stay in all the time, no matter how sumptuous the resort may be—it's also walking distance to many of Franschhoek's best restaurants.
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel & Guesthouse
This tiny family owned operation—there are just six rooms—is perfect for an intimate, secluded stay in Franschhoek. Three standalone cottages share a large, solar-heated private pool, and the suites in the elegant Cape Dutch style main house have easy access to the library and dining room, where a full English breakfast is served each morning.