Franschhoek is ideal for a romantic weekend in the Cape Winelands – especially for wine lovers. Discover where to stay, where to eat and where to taste wine during a romantic weekend in Franschhoek.
We almost didn’t visit Franschhoek during our South Africa vacation of a lifetime.
But, after the tenth person expressed concern about this blatant omission in our itinerary, we hastily added a two-day visit at the tail end of our Cape Wineland sojourn. We forget who that tenth person was, but we want to give him or her a big, fat kiss for pushing us to Franschhoek.
Founded by French Huguenots in the 17th century, Franschhoek has a long history centered around food and wine since those original settlers brought their culinary culture and wine heritage with them when they relocated to this other end of the earth. Many years later in a country more influenced by Dutch settlers, French-influenced food and wine is alive and well in Franschhoek.
Though Franschhoek’s current language may be Afrikaans, remnants of the French history remain in local wineries like Maison Estate and La Mott.
In retrospect, it’s ironic that we didn’t plan to visit Franschhoek from the beginning based on the town’s name alone. The word Franschhoek literally translates to French Corner. As francophiles who spent a month in Lyon plus additional time in Marseilles, Strasbourg and Paris, we kind of have a thing for France. And then there’s the food and wine.
Where To Stay In Franschhoek
We had our doubts as we approached the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel’s nondescript exterior that reminded us of a big box. These doubts quickly dissipated as soon as we walked into the hotel’s stylish lobby and met Llewellyn Lambert, the gregarious Hotel Manager and all-around good guy.
Lambert shared insider tips with us about the best Franschhoek wineries and gave us a bottle of wine to drink in our room. However, he officially won our hearts with the following magic words: “We will do all do all of your laundry for free.” After eight days of eating and drinking our way through the Cape Winelands, we had a lot of laundry.
Lambert didn’t blink an eye when we disclosed this fact. This was the moment that we fell for the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel.
The Franschhoek Boutique Hotel has six rooms with unique decor and evocative names like Hennesy, Blanc, Aztec, Hestia, Palm and Sapphire. During our visit, we stayed in the tropically decorated Palm room where palm trees literally cover the bathroom walls.
Beyond the funky design, we loved so many things about this room with features that included a super-comfy bed, unlimited Wi-Fi (not always a given in South Africa), a mini-fridge filled with complimentary drinks and a deep, freestanding bathtub.
However, our favorite feature about the room was the spectacular view. All we had to do was look out the window to see the epic Franschhoek mountain range framed by a bright blue sky, flanked by local flora and fauna as well as tall palm trees.
Sadly, we didn’t spend a lot of time lounging in the comfortable lobby at the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel – a lovely space designed for comfort and relaxation.
With only two days, we instead spent our time exploring the cute town and tasting wine at the local Franschhoek wine farms. With its location just off Main Street and the free hotel parking lot, touring the area was easy and stress-free.
Although the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel does not serve lunch or dinner, the hotel certainly does not skimp on the most important meal of the day – breakfast. In addition to presenting a generous buffet with cereal, fresh fruit and even fresher croissants, the hotel offers a hot menu with no less than eight choices.
We couldn’t resist ordering the healthy hot breakfast with poached eggs on rye bread and pesto, spinach and tomato. We also couldn’t resist the weekend breakfast that closely resembled a full English breakfast with its eggs, smoked back bacon, Cumberland sausage, grilled tomatoes and potatoes.
Best of all, the hotel served locally roasted coffee procured from Terbedore during breakfast and throughout the day. We love good coffee!
Where To Eat In Franschhoek
Apparently, Franschhoek was a sleepy town as recently as 30 years ago. Times have changed, and tourists from South Africa and all over the world flock to Franschhoek to enjoy the town’s wine, food and natural beauty.
Dining out is a must for any visitor as it’s one of the best things to do all over the Cape Winelands including Franschhoek. We have a guide with our favorite spots.
Where To Taste Wine In Franschhoek
After drinking some of the best wine in the world in nearby Stellenbosch, we wondered how the wine in Franschhoek would compare. We’re pleased to report that Franschhoek wine is not only good but also accessible thanks to the Franschhoek Wine Tram.
The tram offers five different hop-on-hop-off routes as well as a curated option with a local guide. And the best part – there’s a tram stop just steps away from the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel.
Transportation And Logistics
Getting To Franschhoek
We recommend renting a car and driving to Franschhoek since the drive from Cape Town to Franschhoek is just one hour. If you’re coming from Stellenbosch, then that drive is 30 minutes. The drives are easy and safe, plus the hotel provides free, secure parking. Other options include taking a bus, taxi or Uber.
If you’re just looking to do a Franschhoek day trip, you might want to make arrangements directly through the Franschhoek Wine Tram. Though it’s not the least expensive option, this may be the least stressful way to travel if you don’t have access to a car.
When To Plan Your Visit
Although Franschhoek is a year-round destination, spring and summer are the most desirable months to visit. Spring in South Africa occurs from September to November, with summer immediately following and lasting through March.
If you choose to visit Franschhoek in the months of May through September, the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel is equipped with fireplaces for the cold South African nights.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: August 4, 2017