Franschhoek’s hotel scene has never been slicker or chic-er than it is right now – thanks to a slew of spangly new openings and sparkly refurbs that have rolled into the village of late. One such revamp is Le Quartier Français – an eminent landmark on Franschhoek’s buzzy main road – that’s been given a refined yet contemporary overhaul, while still retaining the warmth and charm it’s always been known for.
Singh, Singh, Singh, Singh…
It’s near impossible to talk or write about Franschhoek without mentioning Analjit Singh, the Dehli-born billionaire-businessman and hotelier who paid a chance visit to Franschhoek during the Soccer World Cup in 2010, and subsequently bought two vineyards, two boutique hotels, shares in an art gallery, opening one Indian restaurant and a Taqueria and microbrewery in the process! Le Quartier Français, which was previously owned and beautifully run for more than two decades by hospitality heavyweight Susan Huxter, was one of Mr Singh’s acquisitions and, after a savvy and stylish makeover, relaunched in June 2018.
Lie of the land
Despite a comprehensive facelift, the new incarnation of Le Quaf (as it’s affectionately known) has retained many of the features that made its predecessor such a well-heeled and well-trodden destination. As such, service remains exemplary, the breakfast is still the most stylish in town, and the rooms are still imbued with colourful personality (but, in contrast to Ms Huxter’s brightly coloured aesthetic, the palette is somewhat quieter).
The layout remains the same: 32 rooms preside over an oval swimming pool that’s surrounded by a rose and jasmine garden, with a collection of adorably quirky baboon sculptures by artist Wilma Cruz (Mr Singh is known for his appreciation of art).
And, in addition to Protégé, the casual fine dining restaurant, the hotel is also home to the famed La Petite Colombe restaurant.
There are 32 in total: nine Auberge Rooms, three Grande Rooms, three Petite Garden Suites, two Auberge Suites (with private pools), four state-of-the-art Four Quarters suites, and a three-bedroom Villa, all decorated by UK-based interior designer Beverly Boswell. The colour palette is fresh and vibrant, with French-style undertones (evident in the simple-patterned wallpapers and sumptuous upholstery fabrics) and African accents adding personality.
We stayed in a Four Quarter Suite – where we’d honeymooned nine years ago to the day – with our three-year-old son, who was beautifully looked after – with age-appropriate toys, books and fun toiletries laid out for us on arrival. And, while the reception we received on this family-friendly visit was decidedly different to our wedding night, it was done with the same thoughtful open-handedness.
Above and beyond
A hangover from its predecessor, the service is warm, personal and professional – in fact many of the original staff stayed on when Mr Singh took over, some of whom have worked there for over a decade! And it shows: they know how things work on the estate, and also the best places to recommend in the village and valley.
The wonderful boutique-style breakfast – one of the highlights of our honeymoon – did not disappoint this time around. The fruit, yoghurt and cereal course is served in chic jars and beautifully merchandised in colour-coded rows. The petite patisserie display includes gluten-free options, and the concise hot-breakfast menu has a mix of wholesome and decadent choices, such as homemade sweet waffles, with crispy streaky bacon and maple syrup; and a three-egg omelette, with garden spinach, boerenkaas and roasted tomatoes.
The hotel’s prime position on Franschhoek’s main road, within walking distance of excellent restaurants, galleries and boutiques, is another draw card. Le Quaf is a sumptuous, central and sophisticated stopover that won’t disappoint. To adapt a quote by esteemed American novelist Ernest Hemingway: ”When in Franschhoek, the only reason not to stay at Le Quartier Français is if you can’t afford it.” *
Contact 021 492 2222, email@example.com
Location Corner of Berg and Wilhelmina Streets, Franschhoek
* The original quote was about The Ritz in Paris in the 1940s, but we’ve never let a continent (or a few decades) stand in the way of a good story.