Halcyon holidays at Hazendal Hotel

An impressive addition to a farm bustling with visitors on an early-summer weekend

21 November 2023 - 10:10
By Richard Holmes
Hazendal Hotel reception.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel reception.

I was beaten by my son at Blackjack this weekend. He’s 12, so probably shouldn’t be gambling, but luckily this was a far more wholesome pursuit than flipping cards to 21 in a smoky backroom dive.

Instead, our game was played out on the mats of The Burrow, the state-of-the-art driving range at Hazendal Estate in the Stellenbosch winelands, with the InRange+ system throwing out digital cards across the range for us to hit with a well-timed (or not) wedge. I say Stellenbosch, but its location on the edge of the Bottelary Hills puts it just 25 minutes from both central Cape Town and the wider winelands, making it convenient for a quick break from the city. Which is precisely how this little dad-and-lad escape came to pass.

I’ve spent a lot of time at Hazendal. In fact I (literally) wrote the book on the farm when it reopened in 2019 after a major restoration project. But it’s been a while since I was last on the estate, and an invite to the opening of the new Hazendal Hotel was the perfect excuse for a short break.

Hazendal Hotel.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel.

It’s an impressive addition to a farm that was bustling with visitors on a sun-splashed early-summer weekend. The Babushka Deli tables were full, the lawns dotted with picnic hampers, and no end of four-balls pitting their pitches against the par-three mashie course, where the layout and conditioning would put many full-size city courses to shame.

It’s an attention to detail that runs through the estate, not least in the new hotel where 34 rooms and suites offer one of the most impressive boutique bolt holes in the winelands.

Architect Lee-Ann Adendorff has done a superb job with the design. Pitched roofs, white walls and liberal use of steel and wood integrate the new buildings into the heritage aesthetic of the estate, all creating a thoroughly contemporary destination. There are windows everywhere, ensuring you are rarely without a view, but where there’s wall instead of glass it’s filled with South African art, curated by the team behind the estate’s Marvol Gallery. Far from playing into an understated aesthetic, the liberal use of colour and texture make the spaces bright, bold and exuberant.

Hazendal Hotel luxury suite.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel luxury suite.

That is carried through into the rooms and suites, where designer Maurette van Eyssen used a palette of winelands hues to create colourful sanctuaries with no end of comforts. Nespresso machines and high-speed Wi-Fi tick all the expected boxes for mod-cons, but it’s in the refined fittings, bespoke artworks and serene terrace spaces that you will truly soak up the luxury of this space.

Not that my 12-year-old gave the Hansgrohe taps a second look. Instead, the hotel provided plenty of distraction for us beyond the rooms. First stop, padel.

The hotel's presidential suite.
Image: Supplied The hotel's presidential suite.
Hazendal Hotel superior room.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel superior room.

Tapping into the current craze for this entertaining sport, the hotel boasts a dedicated padel court that is free of charge for in-house guests (open to visitors at a cost). It’s been called tennis with training wheels, and squash in the sun. Truth is, it’s a happy mix of the two, and enormous fun if you haven’t tried it. But it’s hot work on a Cape summer’s afternoon, so a dip in the vast swimming pool was an obvious next step.

The hotel's pool area.
Image: Supplied The hotel's pool area.

The pool is the highlight of the large central courtyard, with lovely touches such as over-water sun loungers and complimentary pool noodles, all framed by an impressive mosaic water feature. Many rooms overlook the pool through a filigree of flowering star jasmine; ideal if you like to be close to the action, but perhaps a little busy if you’re after R&R. If that’s more you, book one of the suites facing the farm’s landscaped reservoir.

Hazendal Hotel cigar lounge and bar.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel cigar lounge and bar.
Hazendal Hotel bar.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel bar.
The bar features inspired small plates and a separate menu for kids.
Image: Supplied The bar features inspired small plates and a separate menu for kids.

Come evening, we decided to skip the formal dining on offer at The Restaurant in favour of a light bite in the bar overlooking the golf course. From craft beers and decent burgers to inspired small plates — and a separate menu for kids — it was just the ticket for an easy dinner after a busy day of bonding.

I’ll be back. There’s the private cinema we didn’t have time to use, and a serene spa with specialised sports massages to ease away those padel pains. I still need to get out on the golf course and wouldn’t mind a little more time poolside. Besides, I have a score to settle at Blackjack.

Hazendal Hotel cigar lounge.
Image: Supplied Hazendal Hotel cigar lounge.