Hotel Review: The Akademie Street Boutique Hotel, Franschhoek
Set in a 19th-century Cape Dutch home, this elegant hotel is only blocks from Franschhoek's gastronomic delights and art galleries, writes Claire Keeton
In the heart of Franschhoek, Akademie Street is only blocks from the town's gastronomic delights and art galleries, but once you step through its doors you feel centuries away.
Days start here with breakfast and end with on-the-house nightcaps and a piano recital.
Owner Paul Kinney designed this space to blend in with the original 19th-century home. Every feature of this five-star hotel has been superbly created or restored, from the blue dining room to the landscaped garden.
There are nine elegant suites across three cottages with original Cape Dutch architecture and one was once a recruiting office for the British army during the Boer War.
Akademie Street has every luxury you could dream up: extra-length, extra-wide, king-size beds, Persian carpets, antiques, wood-fired hot tubs in private courtyards with plunge pools, and a complimentary bottle of MCC Brut to drink inside or out.
The armchairs are so comfortable you may never want to get up but, if you do, the library has a range of newspapers and books to peruse. The signature Vreugde cottage, where I stayed, has a canopy bed and a hand-crafted brass bath to admire, not to use (in the drought), and it stands in a private courtyard.
Discreet and smart, the staff and management pay attention to detail. Even the rooms have mobile phones with the numbers of local restaurants and wine farms programmed into them, and the complementary mini bar is replenished daily at no extra charge.
HOW'S THE GRUB?
Akademie Street is renowned for its breakfasts: fresh fruit, smoothies and freshly baked goods to accompany the traditional (finely) cooked fare.
This was enough to last me until sundowners in the light-filled, glass Orangerie, where craft gins, beers, local wines and, of course, bubbly are served, with snacks of nuts and biltong in front of the fire. Roses flowing over the mantelpiece and chandeliers added to the ambience.
I walked to Reuben's, the restaurant, for dinner, where my poke bowl with local trout, wasabi and pickled ginger was delicious. Darling Sweets Rooibos Chai toffees with the bill rounded off the meal perfectly.
Franschhoek is famous for its dining and wining but if you're ready for action, the mountain-biking trails near the (increasingly full) Berg River Dam are good, or you could opt for a cycling wine tour nearby.
The mountains overlooking the town offer good hiking and views, or you could cage dive with captive crocodiles at the nearby African Croc Dive site.
BEST TIME TO GO
September to April is peak season, when Franschhoek is a melting pot for foreign and local travellers, giving it the feel of a European town, only hotter. The hotel caters for the heat with private plunge pools and a gleaming pool in the courtyard.
Winter is the season for the town's famed literary festival.
Akademie charges per suite or cottage, not per person. They range from R5,500 per night off season to R12,500 in peak season. No children under 16 are allowed.
Call 082-517-0405, mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit aka.co.za
• Keeton was a guest of The Akademie Street Boutique Hotel..