An unforgettable escape just steps from the buzz of Franschhoek’s town centre.
If Harry and Meghan were to honeymoon in Franschhoek, this tranquil hideaway – set on a one-hectare estate straight out of Pride and Prejudice – would be the perfect spot. Its discreet location – just one block from the sidewalk cafés, galleries, award-winning restaurants and everything else that makes Franschhoek tick – is ideal for those seeking under-the-radar splendour (without lifting a finger).
Exquisitely decorated in a stylish mix of curated antique furniture and contemporary art, this six-bedroom manor house feels like the private home of a couple of bon vivants, which is exactly what it is – the owners, who have houses in the US, UK, and Franschhoek, travel extensively and are avid collectors of art and antiques.
Each of the six individually decorated en-suite bedrooms has its own distinct character, but all overlook the sparkling swimming pool, which takes pride of place in main section of the garden. Our manorhouse suite (the room the owners use when they’re in the country) is a salubrious mix of Victorian, Cape Dutch and Art Deco furniture and decor, with a contemporary colour palette (evident in the upholstery and soft furnishings) bringing it into the 21st century. We had the pick of the house, but chose this room for its double vanities, underfloor heating in the bathroom, deep-soaking tub and capacious dressing room – not to mention doors that open onto the terrace and enchanting garden beyond. (But, actually, there isn’t a bad room in the house.)
Lie of the land
Dating back to 1860s, when the land the house stands on was allegedly surveyed, the U-shaped home is arranged around a magnificent garden and swimming pool, with deep verandahs and a covered terrace providing the perfect space for lazy lunches and late-night soirées.
Serviced by a borehole, the garden is an enchanting combination of overgrown ferns and beautifully manicured lawns, with Koi ponds, a vegetable garden, interesting water features and a Dylan Lewis sculpture adding interest. No wonder it’s been the site for many a film shoot and wedding celebration.
Above and beyond
We arrived at the villa on one of those magnificently sunny autumn days in Franschhoek, to be greeted by name (our three-year-old son included) by the ineffably lovely Wayne McLachlan, the villa’s chef/ manager/ host/ etc etc. After enjoying a “glass of shampoo” in the exquisite living room, Wayne gave us a tour of the grounds, and very patiently allowed our son to tinkle the ivories on the grand piano.
While the others went to explore the Wonderland-like grounds, I made my way to the outdoor verandah – glass of bubbly in one hand and a bowl of just-roasted cashews in the other. With a fire roaring in the background, and an Eden-esque view in front, I could’ve been anywhere in the world. There’s something about an outdoor verandah that signifies the ultimate luxury.
La Rive is one of those unforgettable escapes – just as suited to couples toasting their their new life as a twosome as it is to families and friends celebrating a special occasion. There’s something about being a guest in someone’s home (rather than a nameless face in a big-chain hotel) that makes staying in a privately owned property an irreplaceable experience.