If there is one thing you’ll learn when you visit Stellenbosch it’s that their history and heritage is important. This town in the center of the winelands is one of the oldest in South Africa and very proud of the fact. Growing up there I was taken on several trips to historic buildings in the town – the first house, the first school, the Moeder Kerk, the graveyard where our school founders were buried, and all the other little museums scattered around.
Recently they even changed the one-way direction of Church Street so that you now drive up towards the church instead of down and away from it. It caused proper havoc and confused traffic situations for months but in the end people accepted it because this way you could really appreciate this National Monument.
Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel lies at the heart of the town, constructed all the way back in 1713 and therefore one of the oldest buildings in Stellenbosch. While the building has been around for 300 years it has only been running as a hotel for around five years since 2010, but they have made a point of preserving the past, only adding present comforts.
The hotel is at the upper part of Church Street, which is lined with coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and wine bars, and on arrival you instantly get the urge to sit on their front porch and drink a glass or three of wine while watching the sun blinking through the oak trees. We received a warm welcome on arrival and were quickly shown to our room in the old part of the house, guided by a friendly doorman who carried our bags to our door.
One thing to know is that the hotel doesn’t have allocated parking at the actual building. Their underground parking is situated a quick walk around the block where it is safe behind a gate. This isn’t a problem but it could be a little tricky when your arrive. We found parking right in front where we could stop our car while we unloaded our bags, but I know parking spots can be a real scarcity when the town is in full swing and all the students are back on campus. I’m sure they’ll have thought about this so perhaps just give them a ring before you arrive.
The old house provided cool relief from the summer heat. To the right of the front door they have a very cosy lounge with a huge fire place and comfy couches where you can wait for you tour bus to arrive or read a book during chilly weather. To the right they’ve installed a old-timey looking bar that makes you feel like drinking Shiraz or a glass of Glenfiddich while you solve life’s problems.
While the interior of the house makes you feel like rainy winter days, they also have a quaint courtyard leading out of the breakfast room, with a small swimming pool where you can relax during the day. It can be a little, um, tight, when other guests are sharing the space but when it is a standard 37°C summer day you’ll be happy it’s there.
We stayed in a Classic Manor room in the old part of the house, a large, light space with a king size bed covered with 100% cotton percale bedding. It took a lot of self-discipline not to lie down for a quick power-nap. The room also has air conditioning, a flat screen television, hairdryer, a fair amount of wardrobe space. They also provide robes and slippers hanging in the closet, and I loved that a soft light switches on when the door is opened, making it easier to find what you need.
The mini bar has been tucked in the bottom of the cupboard, with the coffee station in the shelf above. They’ve provided a coffee plunger and all the necessary condiments, as well as some bottled water, and the mini bar has been stocked with sodas, beers and wine.
Our en-suite bathroom was decorated in a Victorian style with a deep bath, double sink and Charlotte Rhys toiletries throughout. I loved the tile detail and the Persian-style rugs, which gave the space a luxurious, elegant vintage atmosphere.
The toilet and shower were in a separate division, which I appreciated for personal-space reasons. I found the shower spacious and the water pressure good, and they have placed the towel rails and hooks on the perfect spots so they are within easy reach.
After our dinner at Helena’s we went straight to bed, which was freshly turned down. We slept comfortably and no issues with noise from neighbouring rooms or buildings outside. I don’t know how noisy this area gets when all the students are back in town but when we were there it was nice and quiet.
Their breakfast room leads out to the patio and pool area and is a beautiful, light space decorated in a quant, antique style that made me think of a country-inn. The breakfast spread was diverse and generous with freshly baked pastries, bread, fresh fruits, and some cereal on the buffet, which you can then complement with a hot breakfast.
Naturally we had to start with some scones with cream and strawberry jam, a truly yummy treat to go with a good cup of filter coffee. After that I ordered some french toast and the husband went for the traditional breakfast, both of which were classic, simple and perfectly prepared.
I think the biggest win for this hotel is the location. You are in the absolute heart of Stellenbosch, walking distance from coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, ice cream stores and wine bars all lining the street. The historic status and interior of the hotel itself means you also feel like you are in the heart of the town’s heritage. Stellenbosch as a town is passionate about celebrating, preserving and showcasing its history and so to stay over in one of the oldest buildings is pretty perfect.
I think if you want to visit this town then it is definitely a lovely spot.
We stayed in the Classic Manor room which currently costs R2 990 per couple or R2 740 as a single room. For more information on Coopmanhuijs, head over to their website.