I’ve been writing quite a few reviews on Stellenbosch accommodation recently, and while I love visiting the super swanky spots (I mean, who wouldn’t?) I am also aware that not all of us can spend big bucks on a weekend away. Luckily there are more affordable options that still allow you to have the Stellenbosch experience. I recently stayed over at the Stellenbosch Hotel, which offers comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price, and a prime location to explore the town.
We stayed in one of their two bedroom apartments, which are priced around R2900 and sleeps four. So if you are booking in as a group it works out to a pretty decent R725 per person per night. These apartments also have a fully kitted kitchen so you can save some cash by cooking at home if you need to, something I appreciate when I’m planning to linger a little longer in one destination. They also run specials on their rooms quite frequently so you might strike an even better deal if you keep your eyes open.
Our apartment had one larger and one smaller double bed room – one of which had two twin beds that can be separated if you want to accommodate kids. Both bedrooms had en-suite bathrooms with a shower, toilet and basin, though the one adjacent to the smaller bedroom was quite snug. These lead out to a central living room with a large open plan kitchen on one side and a dining area on the other, and you have access to a wrap-around porch from the living room and both bedrooms.
When I was a student grabbing lunch at one of the restaurants in the street below I remember peeking up at these porches and imagining the luxury lives of the people who lived there. It was pretty funny being on the other side, looking down onto the coffee shops through the lush oak leaves.
The apartment was neat and tidy, the beds were decent (though perhaps due for a mattress upgrade) and overall I think you would stay really comfortably if you booked in here.
The Stellenbosch Hotel’s biggest win is its central location, right at the heart of the town’s tourist hub. Our room looked out on the buzzing Church street packed with coffee shops, restaurants, wine bars and an arrangement of artisan foodie spots. We had basically thrown our bags down and were out the door again, excited to explore the new foodie spots that had popped up since we last visited.
A few steps down the road we found a very cute artisan creamery, Creme de Levain, which is definitely worth a visit. They offer a selection of traditional South African ice-cream flavours like malva pudding, Amarula koeksister, chocolate Romany Cream cheesecake and Bar One caramel sauce. I mean, how could you possibly say no? We tried scoops of the malva pudding and koeksister variants and sat ourselves down at a table outside, watching people stroll by heading from their late afternoon cup of coffee to their first glass of wine for the evening.
From where we sat we spotted a craft beer spot, Craft Bistro, which recently opened in Andringa Street across from Stellenbosch Hotel. If you love craft brews and interesting wines I definitely recommend you pop in. It also looks like a nice spot to grab some proper pub grub. The tables next to us ordered some pizzas that made us drool into our beers, but since we had dinner planned at the hotel we had to resist.
We had dinner at The Kitchen that evening, the hotel’s in-house restaurant. We had mixed feeling about our experience. The risotto starter was a touch too salty, the steak was overdone and the we found the stew portion a little small and lacking in substance. On the flip side the dessert was seriously delicious! I ordered the bread and butter pudding, which was a perfect representation of the classic dish, soaked in a light vanilla custard and served with a scoop of smooth, silky ice-cream.
Our second dessert was equally delectable, a chocolate fondant with caramel mousse, honey comb, crispy banana and peanut butter ice-cream. It is classic collection of flavours and I thought it was really well executed to give you a blend of crispy, crunchy, and soft melt-in-your-mouth textures, and a mix of sweet, salty, creamy and bitter flavours.
They have since altered their menu so the bread and butter pudding isn’t currently available, but I think I can safely vouch for their dessert selection. I would recommend you pop in for something sweet and a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately the central location of the hotel is also a reason to be cautious and plan properly. There are many apartment buildings in this area, most of them occupied by university students, and at some point during the evening you’re bound to hear a few groups of very merry travellers making their way home from the town pubs (or as in our case a guy who was shouting bloody murder between frantic sobs because, I deduced, his girlfriend cheated on him in a club that night). If you’re visiting Stellenbosch to party up a storm, this shouldn’t be a problem. If, however, you want a more tranquil stay, I recommend you book during university holidays when things quiet down a bit.
The next morning we were up bright and early for a quick run and discovered a gorgeous little trail hugging the Eerste river all the way into the luxury suburb Mostertsdrift. If you’re a runner I highly recommend you pack your gear and track it down. You take one of the side roads from the hotel towards the river and then follow the little foot trail all the way along the bank. It will take you all the way into Mostertsdrift, past some of the most most beautiful houses in town. The trail reaches a dead end at a little gate so we ran to this point, then turned around and took the road back, detoured through the botanical gardens, and then headed back to the hotel to complete a 5km. I loved it.
After our run we were ready for a proper breakfast and I am happy to report that the hotel has a really nice offering. They had a buffet offering with ,beautiful fresh fruits, yogurt, muesli, seeds and nuts, and then there was a variety of scrumptious classics for a warm breakfast that you could finish off with an order of eggs from the waiter.
If you are looking for affordable accommodation in the heart of town, it’s definitely worth considering Stellenbosch Hotel. You are walking distance from top attractions and in a great central spot to experience the lifestyle and social culture of Stellenbosch.
For more info and rates, head over to stellenboschhotel.co.za