We much enjoyed Villa 1, our elegant two-bedroom 100 square meter space with a living and dining area, vineyard and mountain views, wet bar, private pool and garden, as well as the property facilities and amenities and Villas dining room meals. Our accommodations were so comfortable, quiet and inclusive it was tempting to stay in and just relax poolside at La Residence. Since we were in the only part of the property where children 12 and younger were welcome there was a risk that a family with loud children would arrive and spoil our little corner of paradise. Although there were new arrivals with children after we checked in those families were polite. Nothing marred our quiet enjoyment of the property.
With the new Villas La Residence raised the level of luxury accommodations in the region. The beautiful and relaxing setting, our comfortable, spacious and well appointed two-bedroom suite, the outstanding service and tasty well presented meals made our stay at the property a superlative experience worth repeating and recommending. Hats off to the owners who continue to strive for excellence.
Class Of Accommodation Five star luxury small hotel for adults with on site Villas section for families.
Connectivity There was complimentary wireless internet which we used frequently during our stay.
General Manager Edward Morton
Handicapped Access There were wheelchair accessible rooms with roll-in showers.
Length Of Stay Three nights
Location Within Elandskloof Farm, a 30-acre working farm estate in the village of Franschoek. On a clear and sunny summer day we drove from Cape Town to La Residence. It was one hour of mostly highway driving with stunning views of the mountains.
Managed The Royal Portfolio
Owned Liz and Phil Biden
Pets Allowed No
Size There were 11 rooms in the two story hotel and five individual buildings of varying sizes in the Villas Section. The 30-acre property employed 78 staff and was able to accommodate a maximum of 42 guests.
Year Opened-Renovated The hotel opened in 2007. In 2011, the owners renovated five old farm cottages into new individual stand alone family accommodations.
The property was designed by Liz Biden to be very opulent and luxurious with an abundance of crystal, marble, and antiques while at the same time striving for comfort. It was decorated in an eclectic mix of old and new with Eastern and Western influences. Every space and suite was decorated in a different color theme and with different furnishings within the overall concept of luxury and grandeur. The furniture and art had been handpicked and placed by the owner in her own style. There were original antiques and artworks by South African artists Sasha Hartslief, Larry Norton, John Meyer, Beezy Bailey and Ayanda Mabula.
While staying in the Villas section our accommodations had most everything we desired. Meals were served in a common area a minute’s walk from our front door. It had a lounge and bar area, an indoor dining area and two pools. We also had access to the hotel facilities: a small boutique, fitness area, swimming pool, dining room and a spa treatment room.
The first thing we noticed on approaching our Villa were the white rose bushes on either side of the entrance and along the path toward the Terrace. We entered the stand alone building from a narrow brick paved road. Five steps led to double wood and glass doors into a single spacious dining and living area and with a wet Maxi Bar. Familiar bright colors, fine materials and a decorative style that relied on contrast greeted us.
Inside Villa 1, it was very quiet, especially when I turned off the air conditioner in my bedroom (there were individual temperature controls for each bedroom and the shared common area). Staff and guests walking between the hotel and villas could clearly see the entire pool area of our Villa. With time perhaps the greenery will grow and provide privacy.
Decorative features included bright furnishings, high ceilings, chandeliers in every room (even a small crystal lamp in the water closet), marble floors, carpets and faux antique walls painted rusted yellow. Framed and unframed oil paintings in a variety of sizes and motifs covered the walls, many by Sisley, a cousin of Liz Biden, we were told by one of the staff when we asked. A faux aged oval wood dining table with bright red accents was the first item of furniture from the entrance. Four cushioned armless wood chairs with a faux finish were scattered around the table. Atop it were two ceramic bowls, one with fresh fruit (apples, pears, apricots) and another with juicy green grapes picked from the estate vines that morning set atop a silver tray next to two plates, napkins, forks and knives and ready to eat. There was a scented fresh flower arrangement in an Asian style vase (and smaller ones in each bathroom) next to the fruit and a sherry filled crystal bottle with five glasses in a round silver tray.
Across from the table there was a lime green bar area with a sink and an electric kettle. Six bottles of wine, gin, whisky and vodka stood atop another silver tray. There was also a glass cookie jar filled with a variety of cookies. Within the bottom half of the bar we found a mini refrigerator filled with soft drinks, sparkling wine and sparkling water. Next to it there were snacks (individual bags of potato chips, flavored salted crackers, candy, Huguenot Chocolates brand fudge, bite size chocolate in a box and several chocolate bars). A wood shelf housed wine glasses, cups and books. The living area consisted of two fuchsia armchairs, a lime tone fabric sofa framed by glass topped wood tables, and a long lime bench. There was a soft red throw with feathers on the edges folded over one of the chairs. A wood armoire housed a large flatscreen television and a DVD player. I was tempted by the wood burning stove and wood logs that stood on one side. The room ended at a set of double doors of wood and glass identical to those at the entrance (there were matching doors in the bedrooms) facing a covered terrace, open lawn and pool area.
The terrace housed two adjustable lounge chairs with ceramic tables and two tables and chairs for two. To the left was Villa 2 and past it the other villas. To the right there was a flower garden and beyond it the hotel. In front was a rectangular pool and beyond it the estate vineyards.
The Villa had a split plan with one master bedroom with en suite bathroom on each side of the main living and dining area. The rooms were mirror images of each other. One had a green decorative theme and was nearly identical in layout and furnishings as mine which was to the right and decorated in a blend of lime green, fuchsia and burgundy. A queen bed with a cushioned headboard in a red flower pattern faced a large window that looked onto our parking area and the hotel in the background. The sheets and pillow cases (a favorite) were of crisp white and cool linen embroidered with the property name. During the day, the bed, which had no bedcover, was dressed up with brightly colored fabric accents which were removed by the turndown service at night. The foot of the bed had a multicolored silk runner and matching pillow. Four regular pillows were flanked by two oversize fuchsia pillows at the head of the bed. Ostrich leather glass topped fuchsia night tables framed the bed. An Asian lamp was set on each table (and on a corner desk). The right side night table also housed a phone. Fuchsia and gold colored armchairs framed the bed area. An area rug occupied the area to one side of the bed. In the corner of the room, an antique style desk and armless cushioned chair faced the wall and an oversize framed mirror. An informational folder for the hotel, television instructions and a DVD list were next to a tissue box. Lime green double curtains framed the window and the double doors. Across from the bed there was a large flatscreen Samsung television (with satellite programming) hanging on the wall. A green velour luggage bench occupied the space under the television.
Toward the back of the room, past the bed there were two built-in closets, each with hanging (I had to stand on tip toe to hang up my clothes) and shelf space as well as an electronic safe. The closet had two each summer and winter bathrobes, two sets of slippers, a laundry basket, a shaving kit, feminine napkins, mosquito repellent and spray.
From our suite we had a view of the farm surrounding the Hotel and Villas and uphill we could see parts of the neighboring estates and farms. The grounds, filled with greenery and fruit trees, were also home to two newly arrived springbok in a central enclosure. Such environs made discovering the area on foot desirable. I was advised to walk toward town rather than the neighboring farms to avoid guard dogs and security devices. From the entrance gate I easily made my way to the end of Franschhoek and back in the cool late afternoon hours.
Two windows filled the bathroom with indirect light; one faced a brick paved pathway with the mountains in the background and the other one faced the hotel. Each had upper and lower white adjustable shutters that allowed sunlight and provided privacy (by keeping the lower shutters closed).
If there were set hours for meal times we were never made aware of them. We made our way to the Terrace dining area and there was always staff on hand that looked after us. If we felt like remaining in our Villa we called reception. Moments later a staff person would arrive with a menu, take our order and a few minutes later bring our meal to us at the Villa.
Breakfast was a combination of a large buffet and cooked to order eggs with sides. The buffet included a variety of cold cereals, milks and yogurts, slices of fresh fruit and a fruit bowl, salmon trout with caper berries and lemon, several types of gourmet dry cured cold cuts, a large cheese tray, dried fruit and preserves, croissants and muffins. There were at times many flies hovering over the buffet table. Even though the food was covered with a mesh fabric to keep the pesky insects away some managed to get in and more importantly they kept flying over the food while we served ourselves. The staff brought us a color printout of the USA Times to the table at breakfast with the news highlights from the United States.
On Thursday night after a handful of snacks with an aperitif, we had dinner in our pool facing partially open dining room (we had initially planned to dine on the terrace but a strong wind made us retreat indoors). A salmon trout salad (a favorite) was the starter. It was followed by a spicy butternut soup. Next we had a choice of stuffed chicken or springbok (we sampled both) and for dessert there were two choices as well, a lemongrass infused crème brulee and a fruit gelatin with blueberries and raspberries and a side of homemade vanilla ice cream.
Late afternoon on Saturday we requested lunch in our Villa. A few minutes later a young lady arrived with the All Day Menu. We ordered Strawberry, Prosciutto and Fried Halloumi Salad with baby salad leaves, cucumber, honey and balsamic vinaigrette; Fishcakes with field greens, rosa tomatoes, cucumber, pickled baby beats, and estate plum chutney; a bacon lettuce and tomato toasted sandwich (on a thick wholegrain bread); hand cut fries; a Lemongrass Infused Crème Brulee; and a Seasonal Fruit plate with Greek yoghurt and honey. Everything that was supposed to be warm (fish cakes, fries, bacon) was and the entire order was tasty and satisfying. It was just what we felt like having for our meal.
On arrival, our luggage was unloaded and delivered to our rooms and our car was parked by the valet service. The staff were equally diligent storing the luggage back in our car on our departure. Complimentary on demand transfers within the village were a perk we took advantage of several times during our stay as well as laundry and pressing.
At turn down the first night the staff provided a five-day weather forecast. There was also and a bite size chocolate every night during our stay. The last night it was a handcrafted Belgian chocolate with liqueur from plums grown on the farm.
Facilities There were two outdoor pools in the Villas area and another one in the hotel. The Villas also had a dining room building with a lounge and bar. In the hotel, guests 12 and older could make use of a work out room, 5.4 square meter dual massage room, library, curio shop and indoor restaurant. The fitness room of the hotel had: rowing machine, bicycle, treadmill, elliptical cross trainer, free weights and medicine balls.
Meeting Facilities The staff was able to provide audiovisual equipment, projectors and other equipment for up to 22 people.
Pool Our Villa 1 swimming pool was 7 meters by 3 meters in size and 1.5 meters deep. There were two adjustable cushioned lounge chairs set in the roofed terrace facing the garden and pool. Although the water was chilly and there were many worms and insects at the bottom of the pool when the outdoor temperature rose we managed to enjoy a short swim or take a dip.
In addition to our private pool there was a main swimming pool at the Villas Terrace Room divided into two sections. The Top Pool (overflow) was 1.7 meters deep and 7 meters by 3 meters while the Lower Pool was 1.5 meters deep and 10 metes 6 meters large.
There was also an outdoor infinity pool at the hotel with the following dimensions: length of 18.1 meters, width of 5.7 meters and depth of 1.5 meters. There were 24 lounge chairs scattered along the lawn and in front of the infinity pool.
Other There was an Emergency Button that in case of a medical emergency would summon the manager on duty. The Villas area of the property had an energy efficient geothermal heating and cooling system for climate control, its hot water cylinders, and for the swimming pools. The temperature range of the thermostat inside the Villa was capable of settings between 17 and 30 degrees Celsius. The water on the estate was sourced from a bore hole (well) and safe to drink. The property’s green efforts included bottling its own water on site, using biodegradable chemicals in the laundry and kitchen and minimizing plastic and paper usage.
In the last two years, the property had been recognized in a number of articles and lists: Favorite hotel in the world, runner up Telegraph Awards 2011, Best Hotel in Africa Ultra Travel Award 2010, and 101 Best Hotels in the World Tatler Travel Guide (U.K.) 2010.
Guests were invited to visit the unoccupied Villas (those that were unlocked) anytime. On arrival, the staff had moved our car to a small parking area adjacent to our Villa. While in town instead of driving we relied on the La Residence on demand shuttle van to get around.
Date Of Review March 2012 2009
Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
Service Our Villa was serviced twice daily, in the morning and evening. When we stepped away for breakfast the staff seemed to be notified to tidy our Villa because it would be ready on our return. Staff were service oriented and very polite. Some of the staff members we spoke with were Nick, Nadia, Rayno, and Evan, who was especially helpful. Fudge replacement for the minibar and sunscreen arrived in our room within minutes of my asking for it. A myriad touches enhanced our experience and unseen hands ensured everything was as it should be. For example, without our requesting it a staff member washed our car the morning of our departure. Also, the staff tidied our Villa the morning of our departure. As we were departing the manager, who had been absent until that day, sent a request for us to drive by the hotel reception so he could greet us.
Would You Stay There Again? Yes