Your own private art gallery at Leeu House in Franschhoek

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IT’S a fitting conclusion to my 2022 gallivanting to have had the luxury and privilege to be the second guest to spend a night in the new Leeu House Suite. Allow me to show you a peek inside.

The freestanding suite was formerly the showers and changing rooms for the pool area at this exclusive retreat in the heart of Franschhoek’s village – although you’d never know it as the walls and trees buffer you from the rest of the world. The building wasn’t being fully utilised so it was decided to convert it into the private haven it is now. As it already stands, Leeu House guests are of a discerning nature who are there to enjoy peace and tranquility, unfettered by the demands of daily responsibilities.

As a guest in the suite, however, you are elevated to even higher status. It opens out onto its own private patio with table, chairs and umbrella – and your own personal Dylan Lewis sculpture guarding the door. This artist’s work is so distinctive and striking the plaque describing it is barely necessary. The view is of the glittering turquoise pool, where other guests are lazing; the staff members going to and fro with ice buckets containing champagne, and bowls of strawberries and chocolates, cannot be ignored however, and it pleased me greatly to be the recipient of these spoils. And yes of course I smiled inwardly as the other guests no doubt wondered who I was and why I was getting the VIP treatment, let alone being the mysterious woman in The Suite. Or so I told myself.

You enter the suite into a small foyer. To the left is a long dressing room, to the right, the lounge area and bedroom. The massive bathroom completes the circular space. If I were one of those people who wears a thing on my arm to show me how many steps I take, I surely would have reached the target during my stay.

The suite is like your own private art gallery. It’s filled with an abundance of pieces, properly lit, upon which you can gaze and marvel. And then there’s the cheeky little lamp stand on the bedside table…(I’ll share that on Instagram). Everything is meticulously considered and placed, handpicked by Leeu Collection founder Analjit Singh. As important as art is to him, so is landscaping and the gardens of Leeu Collection properties, and his hope is that when guests visit any of these destinations they are able to appreciate these surroundings. I know I certainly did, and I can now understand the contemplative pleasure of gazing upon hedges that are just, so, perfect.

I did make a brief expedition beyond the walls of Leeu House, but not far. Included for all guests at Leeu House and neighbouring Le Quartier Francais is an intimate wine tasting at Great Heart. And when I say intimate, I mean it: the space seats four people. Great Heart is the staff empowerment project of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, known for their multi-award winning Leeu Passant and Mullineux wineries. Aimed at improving the livelihoods of those who work for the company as well as their families, the Great Heart wine brand is collectively owned by the winery staff, and a portion of all sales under this label go directly to them.

There are four wines in the portfolio, and I had a fine time with Marcheline Pfeifer, who conducted the tasting. On my last visit I bought the 2020 Swartland Chenin Blanc which I opened the other night and it was absolutely delicious. It’s a very reasonable R130, and the first in the tasting. It’s followed by the 2019 Swartland Red Blend, an unusual move because after this comes the 2022 Stellenbosch Chardonnay. The reasoning behind this is that the Chardonnay can hold its own following a fairly light red – 51% Syrah, 34% Tinta Barocca, 15% Cab Sav – which is ideal on a hot day if you chill it a bit.

The Chardonnay is quite spectacular, drinkable right now but can easily be cellared for a while and will only get better. Concluding the tasting is the 2020 Stellenbosch, utterly sublime. I splurged on the latter two wines this time, an investment in my future drinking pleasure.

Back at Leeu House I found I had no need to go anywhere. Not even to the Conservatory, pretty as it is. I could remain in my robe and feet pillows and my food would come to me. Like the very-late-lunch-or-early-dinner burger loaded with smoked mozzarella, crispy bacon, comeback sauce, red onion, homemade pickles and skinny onion rings on a brioche bun, served with hand-cut, triple-cooked fries. I had to look up comeback sauce the first time: it’s made with mayonnaise, ketchup, chilli sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, onion powder, hot sauce, garlic powder and paprika. The name comes from the traditional goodbye in Mississippi. Anytime you leave a place, people don’t say “goodbye” or “see you later.” Instead, they say, “y’all come back”, and that’s rather lovely.

For breakfast the next morning, I couldn’t resist a flaky croissant with my cappuccino, before tucking into a stack of corn and spring onion buttermilk waffles, topped with sliced avocado, poached eggs, pico de gallo and sriracha glaze. Bacon is an optional extra, and a no-brainer. Those tomatoes comes from the garden up at Leeu Estates and the intensity of flavour is incredible. Thank goodness for late checkout; it meant I could slide back under that duvet and sink into the pillows while I finished my book. We all have our priorities.

For more information, click here. Special thanks to Jean, Dorianne, Monique, Marius, Amy and Charmaine who all made my stay even more exceptional, and left me feeling like royalty – but better.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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