I think it is about time I write another sonnet about Stellenbosch. My hometown at the heart of the winelands is at its most beautiful this time of the year, when the streets glisten from fresh rain, reflecting the stark branches of the oak trees, and fat clouds roll away to reveal crisp pale blue skies.
I really miss those beautiful winter days when I would button up my coat and pull on my gumboots to stroll through the picturesque streets. Then at night we would light a fire in the grate and uncork a bottle of Shiraz, settling in under a warm blanket with a good book. Step outside on a cold evening in Stellenbosch and you’ll smell the smoke coming from all the fires flickering in living rooms across the town. If I could bottle happiness it would be that smell – smoke, fresh air and damp soil.
Step outside on a cold evening in Stellenbosch and you’ll smell the smoke coming from all the fires flickering in living rooms across the town
Another great thing about this time of the year is that the town basically goes on sale. If you’ve ever tried to book accommodation for a romantic getaway in the winelands you’ll know it’s not exactly easy on the wallet – unless your strategy is to party in Bohemia till dawn and hope someone sponsors their couch. During this time of the year you can start looking out for various amazing deals.
Recently I was invited to join a small group of media peeps and bloggers for a sleepover in Stellenbosch, discovering a few hidden gems around town and finally spending the evening at the historic Oude Werf hotel. This is the oldest hotel in the country, built on the site of the town’s first church which was erected in 1687 and which burned down in 1710. The site would first become the home of an inn, and after much rebuilding the Oude Werf Hotel took over, hosting guests since 1802.
The hotel’s history still lies at its heart and they have stayed true to this heritage while also updating the interior with contemporary finishes. The modern and historic live side by side, giving the Oude Werf a unique appeal.
Oude Werf has a special place in my heart, having spent so many Sunday afternoons enjoying buffet lunches under their pergola. For some reason I hadn’t visited in ages until recently when we wandered in for a late lunch. I was completely enchanted by the renovations, which transformed the previously dark interior into a light, modern space with plenty of glass that allows natural light to flood the spacious restaurant.
Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to spend the night at Oude Werf. Their rooms are absolutely gorgeous. I stayed in a luxury room, which was very spacious, with chic interior finishes and large windows allowing the mild afternoon sun to creep across the carpet.
My room had all the comforts you’ll be looking for, with a large bathroom, Nespresso coffee station and mini-bar – stocked at your request, a king size bed and fluffy white robes (for me a hotel-stay is incomplete without them). From the moment I entered my room I couldn’t wait to get back there that evening, soak in the tub for an hour and then snuggle under that soft white duvet.
One of the major plus points of this hotel is the location. You step out of the front door and onto the picturesque Church street, from where you are walking distance to most of the top attractions in town. Wander down the road and you’ll find a variety of eateries, wine bars and coffee shops between designer boutiques and bookshops.
I strongly recommend you discover the town on foot. Start the day with a run up Die Laan, into Coetzenburg and along the mountain trails, go for a walk through the botanical gardens and down Victoria street, and wander down all the little side streets. There is so much to see and you’ll miss too much in a car (plus parking is a nightmare).
Start the day with a run up Die Laan, into Coetzenburg and along the mountain trails, go for a walk through the botanical gardens and down Victoria street, and wander down all the little side streets
That evening we had dinner as a group, where we tried their Soup of the Day followed by steak, and finally a portion of their famous cheesecake. I still have dreams about the fondant potatoes served with that steak – I mean, what could possibly be better than potato soaked through in butter. Heaven.
After quite a few glasses of wine I finally snuck off to my room, finding it turned down and looking all kinds of appealing, and it wasn’t long until I signed off for the night.
The next morning I ordered a flat white from room service and sat in bed, wrapped in my gown and just enjoying the slow sunrise. Stellenbosch is a late riser in the winter and you’ll only see dawn at around 7am. Reluctantly I got ready and headed down to breakfast, which was served in the restaurant again, with a nice selection on the warm and cold buffet options, as well as an à la carte menu to order from.
I can definitely recommend Oude Werf if you are looking for accommodation in Stellenbosch. The venue and rooms are pristine and the staff are friendly and professional. Just one point to note, there was some construction going on while we were staying there, which started at 8am. It shouldn’t be a problem over weekends but do check with them if you are booking mid-week.
If you are interested in visiting Stellenbosch, keep an eye on the #StelliesWinterSale promotions, where you can experience the town’s highlights at a bargain price.
Their luxury package, for instance, is priced between R3800 and R4000 and includes 2 nights accommodation at one of four hotels (Oude Werf gets my vote), lunch and dinner at top restaurants (I recommend Indochine or Delheim), and two activities (the Devon Valley Detour sounds fun).
If this is still a bit above your price range, look at the Lifestyle or even the Budget packages. On a budget you can enjoy a 2 night stay and Bonne Esperance, lunch, dinner and two activities – all for only R2000. Seriously, it is a steal.
The specials are running until 30 September.
They are also running a very cool competition at the moment where you can win a luxury weekend away. Check it out. Oh, and if you aren’t from Cape Town, they have a special giveaway just for you. Click here.