Behind the 19th-century Cape Dutch-style exterior, the Leeu Estates manor house at the heart of the sprawling grounds is awash with modern art and tastefully luxurious. But though the interiors are undeniably elegant, it’s the outdoors that takes the starring role, from the manicured gardens and fruitful vineyards to the verdant Franschhoek valley views and the mountain backdrop beyond. Look closer and you’ll spot a secluded spa nestled amid the vines, and an infinity pool reflecting the South African sunshine. And it’s not all for show: you’ll find plenty of first-class wine to refill your glass during your stay. Cheers.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Leeu’s own Bas wine and a seasonal fruit bowl
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £527.60 (ZAR11,200), including tax at 15 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of ZAR50.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates generally include full-English breakfast and Mullineux & Leeu Family wine tasting.
The hotel employs local staff throughout, and supports the Kusasa Project Early Learning Centre, a school for 120 disadvantaged children, as well as the Isabelo: Sharing is Caring project, providing meals to schools in the valley.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, gym, free scheduled local shuttle service. In rooms: a free bottle of red wine, free bottled water and two free home-made snacks; minibar; air-conditioning; blackout curtains; a working fireplace; tea-making kit; Nespresso coffee machine; Leeu Collection toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The Studios with terraces and fireplaces make ideal hideaways, and have fantastically gorgeous views. (They also have extra-easy spa access, which is handy when you’re naked except for a robe.)
Take a dip in one of the three pools on-site: there’s the 15-metre infinity pool by the Manor House, which overlooks vineyards, for starters. Next, there’s the tranquil adults-only plunge pool at the spa. The third is an outdoor pool where little Smiths can splash.
The Leeu Spa, which has three treatment rooms – one for couples’ treatments – is a secluded hideout among the vineyards. Treatments include massages, hair and nail primping, and locally inspired ‘African voyages’ involving traditional wooden tools.
Pack your shades for sunny breakfasts after wine-drenched evenings.
There’s step-free access to the restaurant and one of the ground-floor Manor House bedrooms.
Accepted, but not particularly catered to. Children are welcome in the restaurant and there’s even a range of spa treatments for little ‘uns, but overall, the wine-sipping tranquility’s better suited to grown ups.
Leeu’s for you if your offspring are older children or teens, who’ll appreciate the family-friendly spa treatments and won’t be bothered by the lack of organised activities.
There’s room for extra beds in the Studio rooms, Executive Suites and Executive Suites with Terraces.
There’s nothing in particular laid on for children. Teenagers might avail themselves of the bikes available to borrow.
Two of the three pools on-site welcome mini swimmers.
High chairs and a children’s menu await you in the restaurant.
Available, with a minimum booking of four hours. Rates vary.
Leeu use greywater for irrigation on the farmland and vineyards, and use electric golf carts to get around the estate.
You can dine inside… but with views like Franschhoek’s, a table on the terrace is even more enticing.
Throw on something elegant for dinner, and you’ll feel at home among the chic surroundings.
Francophile restaurant Le Chêne is a project by award-winning chef Darren Badenhorst, best known for his other winelands restaurant, Le coin Français. Acting as chef de cuisine, Darren has drawn up a menu that pairs the local produce with the precision and flavours of French cooking, ensuring the food pays tribute to Franschoek’s Huguenot history. The restaurant is flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows with sweeping views across the valley, vineyards and surrounding mountains.
Help yourself to spirits, beers and, of course, wine: you’ll find an honour bar in the Living Room, at the Manor House.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am; lunch from noon to 2.30pm; dinner from 7pm to 8.30pm.
The full menu can be ordered to your room during restaurant hours. After that, there’s a selection of light snacks on offer.
An hour east of Cape Town, Franschhoek is on the southwestern tip of South Africa.
Touch down at Cape Town International Airport, about an hour’s drive away. Flights arrive regularly from London, Paris and Singapore, among others.
On-site valet parking is free. Renting a car might seem sensible if you plan on exploring the valley… although driving will limit your wine-tasting opportunities, so perhaps a driver’s a better idea.
Worth getting out of bed for
You can easily while away your days on-site: dine, wine, spa, repeat. (Wine-tasting sessions are free for all guests in the hotel’s wine studio.) Between the indulgence, explore the estate’s 168 acres of landscaped gardens, manicured vineyards and fynbos (shrublands, but it sounds better in Afrikaans). If wandering through wonderland independently isn’t your thing, a guided tourof the gardens is available (book a week in advance). There’s also the estate’s extravagant art collection, including some notably intriguing pieces (look out for Justine in the lounge) – it’s worth taking the self-guided art tour to get to know the works.
When you do manage to drag yourself away, on Saturdays, stop by Franschhoek Village Market (10am–3pm); on Sundays, local craftspeople display their wares on Franschhoek Main Street, where you can also browse the boutiques and curio shops. If Leeu’s extravagant art collection has inspired you, perhaps the Holden Manz Gallery on Huguenot Road should be your next stop.
If you’re not getting enough wine at your winery hotel, taste your way around the valley’s vineyards on the Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour, which operates seven days a week. A particular favourite of Leeu staff is Haute Cabrière, where wine tastings are served with spectacular views. Prefer something hoppier? Tuk-Tuk Microbrewery is open everyday from 11am till late.
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 luxury hotel in South Africa and unpacked their bottles of local red, a full account of their wine-country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Leeu Estates in Franschhoek…
As wine-country hideaways go, Leeu Estates in Franschhoek is pretty magnificent. It’s an elegantly modern manor, all sleek parquet flooring and lots of understated taupe, surrounded by acre upon acre of green loveliness, with a spa and an infinity pool thrown in for good five-star measure. Eating and drinking – and being merry, naturally – is at the heart of your stay. Start your day in the conservatory, surrounded by sunlight and vineyard views. (The food’s first-class: the mushrooms foraged, the honey local and served on the comb, and the pears poached with saffron and cinnamon.) Then stroll the manicured gardens and admire the estate’s fascinating art collection before lunch, served with the vineyard’s own wine. Lounge by the infinity pool or perhaps embark on a locally inspired ‘African voyage’ treatment in the spa, before wine tasting in the studio and then dressing for dinner. After a nightcap at the honesty bar, head to bed for sweet South African dreams… then do it all again tomorrow.