ACROSS Franschhoek and all the way to Europe and the UK, with carefully considered partnerships, the Leeu Collection embraces the hospitality industry with gorgeous accommodation, awe-inspiring art, fine dining, and exceptional wines.
Choose between Leeu Estates, a 17-room country house retreat and boutique winery in the Franschhoek valley; Leeu House, an exclusive 12-room hotel in the heart of Franschhoek village; and Le Quartier Français, a romantic 32-room hotel including two independent villas, also in the village.
Peruse the art in the sculpture garden and at Everard Read Gallery, dine at Marigold while sipping on Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, or catch a quick casual meal at Tuk Tuk in between relaxing with a book while wearing a fluffy robe which you grabbed from its creamy satin hanger, and those slippers which are incredibly unsexy yet still the most enjoyable thing you can do for your toes. Life can be so, so difficult sometimes.
But carry on we must. Leeu House, where we spent the night, is near the top end of the main street through Franschhoek village; that is to say, close to the Huguenot Monument. It’s a brilliantly convenient location from which to explore your surroundings. There is much to see and do and eat and drink within easy walking distance, but we know how it goes…sometimes you set out with all the best intentions in the world but then your feet get sore, or you buy too many bottles of wine, or you lose your umbrella. It happens, we’re not judging. Leeu House has got you covered with a shuttle service, which you can use to get to any of the wine farms in the valley, or summon when you’re too tired to walk “home”.
There you will find everything you need to be cosy and comfortable, from lots of goodies and treats in the room to make you feel extra special, to a lounge with a fireplace and honesty bar (if you can drag yourself from the deliciously snug bed which will do everything it can not to release you from its gentle embrace). Do not pass up the opportunity here to sample the Mullineux range of wines. They are, of course, available in the various restaurants as well.
The light and airy Conservatory at Leeu House is available to guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it opens out onto the garden with its swimming pool. In the morning, help yourself from the buffet laden with cold poached fruit with vanilla and cinnamon; double thick yoghurt and homemade granola topped with honey, nuts and seeds, and a selection of pastries from the bakery.
Follow up with a hot breakfast à la carte, and a flute of bubbly: brioche French toast with banana and peppered honey; creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon trout and chive cream cheese; or a toasted croissant with mashed avocado, roasted tomatoes, and an egg poached to your liking. It’s options like these that make you understand the real reason breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day, even if an egg-white omelette cannot be convinced to be sufficiently photogenic for Instagram. It was still delicious.
When planning a day based on where the next meal is coming from, you only have to look over the hedge. Literally. Right alongside Leeu House you’ll find Tuk Tuk Microbrewery in association with Cape Brewing Company (CBC), where you can tuck (sorry) into spicy Mexican-inspired dishes washed down with a delicious beer which goes so well with nachos, quesadillas, burritos and tacos. To find your favourite, try the tasting menus of four or eight Tuk Tuk or CBC brews.
Diagonally opposite Leeu House is Heritage Square, which complements the Leeu Collection with Marigold, the first classic Indian cuisine restaurant in Franschhoek village. The food is simply marvellous. The square’s other tenants include DV Chocolate Café, which should not be missed for its amazing range of single origin chocolates, ice creams, coffee and more; and The Boutique Gallery, which is filled new and exciting contemporary artwork and design. My relationship with art is often complicated but I always see things I love in this gallery.
If you’re prepared to walk an entire block, you’ll find Le Quartier Français where The Bar At LQF is a trendy, sociable space with a wood-burning fireplace. Outside on the veranda is a great spot to relax over a drink and people-watch. Also here is The Garden Room, which opens up through wide glass doors onto a manicured courtyard with outdoor seating, for breakfasts and all-day dining; as well as La Petite Colombe, sister restaurant to the award-winning La Colombe Restaurant in Constantia.
This is only a small taste of what Franschhoek has to offer, but a particularly fine one. For more information, click here or call 021 492 2222.
- This story first appeared in Independent Traveller on July 21, 2018