A couple of weeks ago the Stellenbosch Wine Valley invited me to spend a weekend experiencing some top eats and treats in and around town.
If you follow me regularly you’ll know I have a soft spot for this historic town. I grew up and spent my university days here so I am completely biased to begin with, but I just love the rich heritage, the sense of community and the tempting foodie culture.
The last few times we’ve visited the valley we stayed outside of town, so this time I was excited to spend a night at Batavia Hotel, which is right at the heart of Stellenbosch so that you’re walking distance from all the main attractions, but just outside of all the commotion so that you can also enjoy some peace and quiet.
I arrived at the guesthouse late afternoon after a long lunch at Cuvée Restaurant on Simonsig Wine Estate. Needless to say after several courses and plenty of wine I was feeling thoroughly lazy and was thrilled to find a large room at the front of the building with my own private little courtyard where I could unpack and unwind for the rest of the afternoon.
I stayed in their Superior Room, which had an air of antique luxury with wooden floors, heavy wooden chests and wardrobes, and plush details like soft velvet-covered chairs that gave it a Victorian boudoir feel. I loved it.
The cool interior was a welcome escape from the heat of the afternoon, with a patch of sun creeping over the soft down duvet, looking oh so inviting. While part of me was eager to set off and explore all the new eateries and wine bars that have popped up since I last visited, to stroll along Die Laan, to find my old nook in that book shop around the corner, another much more determined part longed for an afternoon nap before I had to visit my next destination.
So I spent the rest of my day enjoying the quiet you only get on a Saturday afternoon in the suburbs (a luxury if you’re use to the buzz of the city), soaking up the last rays of the day.
Batavia Hotel is a brilliant place to stay if you’re visiting Stellenbosch because you’re walking distance from the center of town, and Stellenbosch should really be discovered on foot. That evening my mom joined me for dinner at Jardine restaurant – look out for that review soon – which was just around the corner from where I stayed.
She parked in front of the hotel and we strolled the short distance as dusk faded into night. As we passed groups of tourists and locals heading out to dinner, I enjoyed taking in all the new sculptures that have been placed around town, the lights of the restaurants spilling into the street, and the sounds of cutlery scraping plates and wine classing clinking.
After dinner I couldn’t wait to climb under the covers, connecting to their free (and fast) Wi-Fi to stream an episode of Orphan Black before sinking away in their soft white pillows. Bliss.
The next morning I woke up just as the first rays of sun broke through the oak leaves and decided to go for a quick run before breakfast. After a few paces I was on Die Laan, the path that goes along the Eerste river and up to the university sports grounds. From here I took a turn through the botanical gardens – one of my favourite hideouts as a student – and back down Dorp Street to my hotel. It was such a treat tracing all the roads I used to love during my student days.
Breakfast was served in the house, which has been decorated with a similar variety of antique and old-timey pieces making it feel like you’ve stepped into another era. My breakfast table, a heavy and ornate piece, was at the center of the room between a bay window and fire place, lain out with quaint crockery and condiments, and the Sunday newspaper ready and waiting.
Of course I was thrilled to indulge in this old-school Sunday ritual, sipping my cup of coffee – a good one at that – and nibbling at some fresh fruits from the buffet table while catching up on the latest theatrics from our country’s politicians.
I ordered the French Toast for my warm breakfast – you know, to balance out the run that morning – which was served with a few bacon pieces and some baked fruit, a nice twist on the classic. Overall I thought the breakfast was tasty and I loved the attention to detail on the table setting and throughout the room.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Batavia Hotel and I can confidently recommend it if you are visiting Stellenbosch. They are in a prime location, offer free wi-fi, off-street parking, a swimming pool, laundry and 24-hour reception (in case you want to party with the arts students in Bohemia till 2am).
For more info or to book, head over to batavia-stellenbosch.co.za
Some of my favourite things to do in the area
Go for a run. Stellenbosch is most beautiful when explored on foot. Join the thriving fitness culture with a run on Die Laan and along the various beautiful streets of town.
Visit Verbatim Book Store in Dorp Street. This is my favourite book store which offers a wide selection of literary gems packed into the historic building. Interesting fact: this bookshop use to be the morgue in town. The one front window has been specially designed to open wide enough so that coffins could slide out.
Eat a bread stick at Schoon De Companje. I love the olive and chocolate varieties. This bakery celebrates the ancient traditions of break making and their bread is seriously delicious.
Meandre up Church Street. You’ll find wine bars, chocolatiers, ice-cream parlors, coffee shops, eateries and all sorts of cute shops to browse through.
Take in the street art. You’ll find sculptures by various prominent artists throughout town and they are constantly adding new pieces.
Look out for my upcoming post on the Bites and Sites food tours for more things to do in Stellenbosch.
This visit was part of a larger media trip in Stellenbosch to taste and discover some of the best from this beautiful valley. Look out for a few more of these posts over the coming weeks. You can also search #VisitStellenbosch #TasteStellenbosch #DoStellies and follow the Stellenbosch Wine Route on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.