There’s a twinkle in the eye of Delaire Graff Estate – which perhaps has something to do with its owner. The man behind this 24-carat Stellenbosch stay is Laurence Graff, a British businessman who progressed from humble beginnings in London's Hatton Garden to set up Graff Diamonds, one of the world’s largest jewellery empires. As you sweep up the snaking sculpture-lined drive, it’s plain to see that no expense has been spared to polish this 100-acre South African estate into a jewel of the Cape Winelands. There’s a parade of luxury lodges, some with infinity pools; a wine lounge, with views of the Stellenbosch Valley; and a celebrated art collection that includes one of the world’s most iconic paintings – Vladimir Tretchikoff’s Chinese Girl. Two restaurants certify this as a flawless gem…
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A book on the artist Vladimir Tretchikoff, who painted the famed Chinese Girl
Double rooms from £1002.07 (ZAR21,500), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, sunset canapés and sparkling wine, one standard wine tasting each and an art tour of the estate.
As well as an impressive indoor art collection, you’ll also find outdoor sculpture installations by the likes of Deborah Bell, Anton Smit and Dylan Lewis, whose bronze cheetahs prowl the grounds.
At the hotel
Botanical gardens by renowned horticulturalist Keith Kirsten; a cinema room with free popcorn; free shuttle in/out of Stellenbosch; veg gardens and olive groves; vineyards, winery and tasting lounge; acclaimed art collection; shopping boutiques from Graff diamonds, 100% Capri clothing, Vana accessories and Africa Nova homewares. In rooms: kitchenette; Bose Bluetooth sound system; flatscreen television; free wine, snacks, tea and coffee, minibar (restocked); robes and Charlotte Rhys bath products.
Our favourite rooms
With an exclusive collection of 17 luxury lodges, it’s hard to go wrong at Delaire Graff Estate. Ultimate privacy is the order of the day, whether you opt for views of the impressive botanical gardens or the neatly plotted vines. That said, the Luxury Vineyard Lodges take some beating, with their decks and heated plunge pools overlooking the Stellenbosch Valley – especially lovely at sunset.
Etched into a hillside, the 22-metre outdoor infinity pool has views of the undulating winelands. There’s also a heated Jacuzzi set into the water, plus cushioned daybeds and parasols on the adjoining deck.
The serene spa has five elegant treatment suites, including one couple’s room with an ensuite shower and hydrotherapy bath. An extensive menu of massages and scrubs uses products such as Swiss Perfection, Aromatherapy Associates and Terres d’Afrique, while the Diamond Tip Microdermabrasion facial promises ultimate exfoliation. Full- and half-day packages invite you to up the indulgence with a welcome drink and access to the steam room and Swedish sauna. There are even treatments for children and teenagers, such as manicures, pedicures and bubble baths – though you need not necessarily tell them that.
Walking boots and cycling gear. After dining out on the area’s abundant restaurants and tasting rooms, you might be pleased to hear the Cape Winelands are also laced with scenic bike and hiking trails.
Golf cars are available for wheelchair users wanting to get around the estate and staff are able to assist at all times.
Over-10s welcome, though this is really a hotel best suited to couples. Each lodge can accommodate one extra bed (suitable for children up to 12).
Request one of the romantic red-cushioned tables on the main terrace of the Delaire Graff Restaurant for front-row views of the vines.
Informal; despite being owned by a diamond titan, the atmosphere is understated.
The concept of ‘green gastronomy’ unpins boths restaurants at Delaire Graff Estate. Fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown organically on site, and free-range livestock is sourced from sustainable farmers around South Africa. The main Delaire Graff Restaurant is a culinary tour de force, with a terrace that’s worth the trip alone: overlooking the vineyards of the Simonsberg mountain and the sun-dappled Banhoek Valley. Head chef Kevin Grobler crafts the menu with a nose-to-tail, root-to-leaf philosophy and dishes evolve as the seasons shift. The lunch, dinner and nine-course tasting menus (the last inspired by the tasting notes of the paired wines) include the like of confit duck leg, yuzu-poached hake, langoustine ravioli and coffee-spice venison. Save room for the decadent desserts – creamy panna cotta, peanut butter blondies and salted caramel crème brûlée. Sister restaurant Indochine focusses on Asian-accented cuisine, again with a dramatic terrace that frames Delaire Graff’s scenic setting. Thai curries and Malaysian beef rendang defy notions that this is the hotel’s ‘second’ restaurant. Indeed, it’s regularly voted among South Africa’s best. The same commitment to culinary excellence prevails and sommeliers are on hand to advise on the best labels their tome-like wine menu.
This being Stellenbosch, there’s a Wine Lounge in place of a bar, where you get a free tasting of five wines during your stay (no need to book; just turn up and taste). Art-lined interiors include works by South Africa’s leading talents – Lionel Smit, William Kentridge et al – and outside there’s a terrace with sun parasols and Indian-style seating that, again, boasts stellar views the vines. Just one more drink, then…
The Delaire Graff Restaurant is open daily for lunch (noon–2pm) and for dinner from Wednesdays to Saturdays (6.30-9pm). Indonchine is open daily for breakfast (from 7am), lunch (noon-2.30pm) and dinner (6.30-9pm).
Champagne and canapés are delivered to your room each evening ahead dinner. Served by your butler, naturally.
Amid the soaring scenery of the Cape Winelands near Stellenbosch, Delaire Graff Estate stands at the crest of the Helshoogte mountain pass, surrounded by vine-stitched slopes and some of South Africa’s best restaurants, wine estates and tasting rooms.
Cape Town’s main international airport is a 30-minute drive to the west; the estate also has a private helipad if you really want to arrive in style.
Stellenbosch’s train station is serviced by the Metrorail from Cape Town, connecting city with countryside in an hour.
Driving is popular with visitors to South Africa and car hire is available at all major airports. Roads are well maintained and easy to navigate, especially along the main N2 highway that snakes from Cape Town, along the celebrated Garden Route, into the Eastern Cape. Delaire Graff Estate also offers a free shuttle in and out of Stellenbosch if you want to go car free, or explore the wineries without the need for a designated driver.
Worth getting out of bed for
Some of the world’s best restaurants converge in the Wineland towns of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The university hub of Stellenbosch is the larger of the two, while little Franschhoek punches well above its weight for high-end eateries, wedged along its tiny high street. A great way to explore is on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a vintage hop-on, hop-off bus, that offers six coloured-coded routes, each stopping at eight different wine estates. Our top tip? Even the most committed of drinkers will struggle to sample all eight estates, so select four of the best: perhaps starting with two tastings, followed by a lazy lunch and then one more for the road. Next, don’t miss the chance to explore the area’s dramatic peaks and vine-clad slopes on two feet or two wheels: Bike n Wines offers cyclingand hiking tours; or if you’re keen to go it alone, make up a gourmet picnic from Grab & Go deli at De Warenmarket in Stellenbosch – where olives, cheeses, salads and sandwiches await for on-trail sustenance.
The area’s Huguenot heritage can be sampled in the many Gallic restaurants that grace the Cape Winelands. Some of the best are Terroir, on the family-owned wine farm of Kleine Zalze; La Petite Colombe, set amid Le Quartier Français complex in downtown Franschhoek; and Le Coin Francais, a new pretender to the fine-dining scene, by chef Darren Badenhorst. For these and other high-end restaurants – including Reuben’s, Rust en Vredeand Jordan – you'll need to book well in advance, at least six months ahead, to be on the safe side. There’s also an abundance of farm-to-fork fare on the surrounding wine estates, such as La Petite Ferme and the Werf Restaurant at 17th-century Boschendal (go at lunch to follow food with a walk around the grounds). Meanwhile for families, Village Grill & Butcher serves up a children’s play area and sculpture garden, whileFat Butcher(steaks) offers an alternative to the mainstay South African staples.
Smith-approved stops on the Wine Tram include Sir Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle, home to the relaxed Country Kitchen tasting room, where knowledgeable staff will talk you through their favourite tipples; and Grande Provence, where a sculpture-strewn courtyard serves up dramatic views at sunset. Other notable wine estates are Glenelly on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, and La Petite Dauphine, with its restored 200-year-old Café BonBon wine cellar near Franschhoek. If you do tire of grapes, there are hops to be had at Tuk Tuk, Bovine and Taproom,all within a short walk of downtown Franschhoek, allowing you to create your own beer trail.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Cape Winelands hotel in South Africa and unpacked their 2016 Delaire Graff Botmanskop, a full account of their Stellenbosch stay will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Delaire Graff Estate hotel in the Western Cape…
For a hotel owned by a diamond magnate, Delaire Graff Estate is surprisingly discreet. Yes, there’s small shop for Graff Diamonds in the lobby and a portrait of proprietor Laurence Graff close by. But elsewhere, you wouldn’t know this smart Stellenbosch stay has 24-carat connections. That’s because Mr Graff is an understated chap, who started from humble beginnings as a cleaner in London’s Hatton Garden to set up one of the world’s largest jewellery empires. What you will notice, however, is a commitment to make the place sparkle: from the two restaurants and luxury lodge-only accommodation (where complimentary canapés and champagne are served before dinner each evening) to the private art collection, renowned as one of South Africa’s best. Add to that surrounding vineyards, which sprawl over the 100-acre estate, and free tastings in the luxurious Wine Lounge, and you’ll be left wanting to drink in every inch of this flawless stay.