Surrounded by the most breathtaking mountains in Cape Town’s Franschhoek valley, Mont Rochelle sits firmly perched amongst the vineyards, making it the ultimate getaway for wine drinkers and foodies alike.
It goes without saying that when Sir Richard Branson purchases a property anywhere in the world to add to the very exclusive Virgin Limited Edition collection, you can be assured of the very best of everything – location, setting, accommodation, food, wine, you name it.
Mont Rochelle is no exception. After becoming part of the VLE collection in 2014 and a recent refurbishment, guests come from near, far and wide to savor the best that this pristine property has to offer.
We arrive on a Friday afternoon to a warm welcome at Mont Rochelle by Elizma Stone, Deputy General Manager. She takes us through the reception area, past Miko restaurant and down the newly installed wooden stairs, past the gym, down to the Vineyard Wing, where we are staying in the Cap Classique Suite.
Being the largest rooms at Mont Rochelle and with only two Cap Classique Suites, it is the ideal accommodation for our family of three. Our daughter is staying in the lounge area, where an extra bed has been brought in for her, while my husband and I are staying in the Master suite. The two Cap Classique Suites differ slightly in configuration and color accents – we are staying in the room with smidgens of green.
Staying in Franschhoek, hailed as the food and wine capital of South Africa, it would be remiss not to venture into town to dine at one of the award-winning restaurants, just a stone’s throw away. Elizma establishes our meal preferences, makes suggestions, secures a reservation, and at dinner time, we are transferred to our restaurant of choice in the Mont Rochelle courtesy vehicle. This is perfect for diners who enjoy a glass or two of wine and would rather not drink and drive.
Back at Mont Rochelle, our room has been turned down for the night and the complimentary mini-bar snacks have been replenished. Our daughter indulges in a bit of television before bed and after a relaxing shower with the wonderfully fragrant Africology products, she is off to dreamland. I follow suit shortly and it doesn’t take me long to fall asleep.
After a good night’s sleep, we head up the stairs to Miko, where we enjoy a delicious breakfast. A buffet, consisting of baked goodies, assorted homemade jams, yoghurts, cereals, fruit, juices and a selection of hot breakfast to order – after our daughter has her fair share of croissants, she opts for the American style pancakes with blueberries, toasted almond and maple syrup. My husband and I choose our preferred English breakfast; but exclude the optional black pudding choice.
We packed in such a hurry that we neglected to bring our swimwear and can kick ourselves as we have our own pool, which is heated in winter. Instead, we move the lounger from the veranda onto the lawn and from every single vantage point, it’s like a painting unfolding in front of you. I could sit here all day.
We are having lunch at the Country Kitchen, which is a short walk or a quick drive from the main building. The Country Kitchen is adjacent to the Mont Rochelle wine cellar, making it a favorite wine tasting destination for wine connoisseurs.
The atmosphere at the Country Kitchen is happy and relaxed, with many patrons preferring to sit outside in the brilliant sunshine. Picnics, weather permitting, also prove to be very popular, judging by the number of guests returning with blankets and picnic baskets. The menu at the Country Kitchen is varied; our daughter and I share the Elgin buffalo wings while my husband tucks into the delicious vegetable soup for starters.
For main course, our daughter orders the perfectly prepared CK Burger with fries, while my husband and I thoroughly enjoy the Grilled rump steak, mine with mushroom sauce and his with Madagascan green pepper sauce. For dessert, my husband has the Malva pudding with Amarula ice cream and my daughter and I end our meal with the smoothest vanilla ice cream. The food is perfectly prepared by Mont Rochelle’s Head Chef, Shane Louw.
A walk back to the main building has us taking in the wonderful scenery of the vineyards, the mountains and the activities on offer. We pause by the two horses grazing on the greenery and my daughter challenges my husband to a game of chess. With many lawn games, including croquet, giant Dominos, building blocks, bowling and Astroturf tennis courts, you will never get bored.
Dinner is a gastronomical feast at Miko and my husband and I order the crispy smoked paprika squid for starters and for main course, we all enjoy the simply grilled beef fillet with a side order of fries and my husband’s fillet comes with mash, bacon and gravy. Another outstanding meal in an exquisite setting.
A visit to Mont Rochelle isn’t complete without meeting the resident cat, Blom (Afrikaans for flower). She is either browsing around the gardens or having a siesta somewhere nice and warm. Which is exactly what she is doing today, sitting pretty in the pot that houses a plant. She meows her disdain when our daughter touches her shoulder, so remember to avoid rubbing her shoulder should you be lucky enough to encounter her during your stay at Mont Rochelle.
| Photographs courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition and by Heléne Ramackers
** Views expressed are the author’s own.
– The closest international airport is Cape Town International Airport, which is an easy, scenic 45-minute drive to Mont Rochelle.
– Mont Rochelle is the perfect destination to visit year-round – winter (June through September) has temperate, sunny days with the occasional snow-capped mountains while in summer (December through February) it can become quite warm.