As a tourism hotspot, Franschhoek is bursting at the seams with places to stay, which means that competition is stiff and standards are perennially high. Yet still, newcomer Le Petit Manoir raises the bar when it comes to boutique hotels. While there is no shortage of hotels and guesthouses, there is a fine line between good and word-class. Having only opened in July 2018, Le Petit Manoir is proving that compact is king, with its beautifully appointed suites, world-class dining and buzzy location.
Proximity is everything
Situated on Franschhoek’s main drag (Huguenot Road for GPS purposes), the pint-sized guesthouse is perfectly positioned within walking distance of many of the town’s central attractions – a huge boon if you’re travelling without a vehicle.
This pocket of the world is endlessly proud of its French heritage, which shines through in the small cafés and boutiques, and charming village atmosphere – all on Le Petit Manoir’s doorstep.
With just four suites, the intimate guesthouse feels more like a home, but with the service level of a five-star hotel. Each suite has a private balcony looking out onto the Franschhoek Mountains and the street below. Guests have access to the pool – which is flanked by the charming kitchen garden – and breakfast is part of the deal.
Four King Suites
- Extra-length king-size bed
- Private balcony
- Nespresso machine
- Complimentary tea and coffee pods
- Complimentary wi-fi
- Complimentary drinks and snacks
- Air conditioning
Cost From R3 570 per room (includes drink on arrival, daily breakfast, wi-fi, a bottle of wine and Molton Brown bathroom amenities)
Like with many of the hotels in this neck of the wood, there are allusions to the classic French-country style aplenty but these are balanced by contemporary design details, giving the space a fresher and more current feel. As such, deep-buttoned headboards, muted colours and monogrammed pillows are offset by sleek blonde-timber furnishings, industrial-style lamps, and a streamlined open-plan black-and-concrete bathroom. It’s an effortless balance between comfort and sophistication.
The three owners – Brian Groenewald, JP Lombard and Frank Heyneke – are passionate food and hospitality fundis, with a global perspective and matching standards. The combined visual, interpersonal and business acumen each partner brings to the table make them a well-rounded and hands-on team – Frank and Brian were pitching in at dinner during my stay, and all three are consummate hosts and sticklers for detail and presentation.
The fourth member of the team and mastermind behind the extensive food offering at the hotel is Bloemfontein-born-and-raised Kevin Grobler. His impressive culinary track record includes stints at Terroir, Cavalli and Delaire Graff – and most recently as head chef at Michelin-starred JAN in Nice. The result of his impressive experience and skill and the warm and personal approach of the hotel as a whole is a food experience that while elevated isn’t pretentious.
Breakfast choices are succinct but intriguing – miso croque madame and chocolate quinoa make up two of your five choices – and lunch is à la carte, with dishes that are big on flavour style influences.
In the details
Details always decide which destinations make a lasting impression. For me, two things matter: fresh milk for coffee and tea, and the toiletries. Le Petit Manoir delivered on both of those – with flying colours: a jug in the minibar, and Molton Brown in the bathroom! These touches illustrate that the owners understand that the experience is the sum of the small details.
Other highlights were the beautifully stocked and stylish Smeg minibar, wood-burning fireplace, and a gorgeous freestanding tub… a reason to return when baths are back on the cards.