CHECK IT OUT MANOR HOUSE AT MONT ROCHELLE HOTEL, SOUTH AFRICA
Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Hotel in South Africa’s Franschhoek wine region has opened a private Manor House villa. Sleeping up to eight guests in four suites, the lodgings provide that extra fillip of luxury, dedicated staff, including an on-call chef, and two swimming pools, one in the courtyard and the other overlooking the vines and mountains.
A gleaming white example of traditional Cape architecture, the private villa also features a gym and games room and offers easy access to the hotel’s wide range of facilities, which include a day spa, horse riding and wine tasting.
Branson purchased the Mont Rochelle Hotel, less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, two years ago and undertook an extensive refurbishment of the 26-room property before it joined the Virgin Limited Collection, a coterie of hotels, safari lodges and island retreats that reflect the billionaire’s travel passions. The elegant hotel sits hilltop on a private 39ha vineyard with relaxing contemporary interiors where comfort is key and a sense of fun prevails.
DON’T MISS: Mont Rochelle’s complimentary wine tasting (conducted by head winemaker Justin Osborne), available daily in the restaurant or 150-year-old wine cellar; or perhaps a jaunt by horseback with a picnic hamper is more your speed.
DINING IN: There are various options for Manor House guests. Whip up dinner in the smart kitchen, or ask the hotel to dispatch that private chef. Pop across to the hotel’s restaurants, with brand new head chef Darryll Ragavan in the kitchen. Miko serves a range of international dishes with an emphasis on local produce (try the tandoor-spiced ostrich carpaccio or springbok loin with rosemary gnocchi). Adjoining the cellar door, a cork’s pop from The Manor, The Country Kitchen is a more casual affair with a large outdoor terrace and serving the likes of West Coast mussels and roosterkoek, a traditional South African bread.
DINING OUT: The Manor House is a 15-minute walk from the historic village of Franschhoek, home to several bistros (a free shuttle operates from the hotel).
ASK THE CONCIERGE: Pack your walking shoes to explore the region’s 43 cellar doors or hop on and off the handy Wine Tram.
CHECKING IN: Rates from ZAR46,800 ($4200) a night based on eight sharing, minimum two nights, including premium South African wines, breakfast and a choice of a three-course lunch or dinner daily, mini bar, housekeeping and Wi-Fi. More: virginlimitededition.com.
ALSO TRY: Farmhouse Inn, Sonoma County, California; The Louise, Barossa Valley; Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal; Alan Pye Cottage, Huka Lodge, New Zealand.