Well, it is not often than the gal has a welcome like this, a bush fire about ten minutes away from the gorgeous La Residence luxury hotel in Franschhoek, in South Africa’s Cape winelands. The name, by the way, is very appropriate. This was the private home of Phil and Liz Biden. He is a financier, now heading Javelin Capital Ltd Investment, and Liz went from teaching to fashion to mother-henning all the Royal Portfolio properties. So far, this portfolio is a couple of other divine establishments and this, the winelands resort beloved of Adrian Brody, Richard Gere, Elton John and oh so many others.
There are 11 rooms, in specially-built blocks, and five, two-room villas hidden away and private. All share the great room, a soaring open-sided – when the weather allows – block, with a mezzanine library with books and computers. The great room has chandeliers, and art works, and blazing log fires – when the weather suggests – and lots of tables that are moved around as guests want. This is an eat-anywhere, anytime, place, although the menu is more or less set, daily (but of course, led by GM Ed Morton and his team, headed by Werner and Nick, if you want a change, just say and it is done).
I loved the way our dinner table had tiny red torches, one for each of us, exactly matching the red flower vases. That is style, that is quality. We were told that there was fresh tuna, not on the menu, and, with a salad, it was an absolutely perfect dinner, going with the hotel’s own wines, in this case La Residence Franschhoek Alexandra Frances 2012 Shiraz, named for one of the Bidens’ two daughters, Alex. No wonder people stay here for days and days. There is so much to do. We had been cocktailing earlier with two of Ed’s friends, Camilla and, visiting from England, Sally. They were going off somewhere else for dinner but Sally could not wait to get out running tomorrow, in the vineyards as the sun came up.
And that is what Sally did. I had been in the gym, which they kindly keep open all night although it was dawn by the time I got there, and then headed back to the great room, where a couple of tables – no, three, actually – had been loaded with rolls of smoked salmon, and fruits, including lots of berries, and marvellous croissants and much more. And, on request, they brought me great eggs. Sorry, I passed on the signature Franschhoek farmhouse breakfast, namely eggs, beef or pork sausage, streaky bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans. This is not a luxury hotel that leaves you wanting.