This exquisite manor house in the Franschhoek Valley is an oenophile (and art lover’s) dream come true.
On the slopes of the Dassenberg mountains lies a 68-hectare wine farm with an immaculately restored Manor House, whose six classically styled rooms offer sublime views of the surrounding vineyards, gardens and fynbos beyond. Owned by Indian entrepreneur Analjit Singh, this estate is one of three farms he acquired after a serendipitous visit to Franschhoek in 2010, during which he “instantly and instinctively knew this was it!”
Dressed in subtle shades of taupe, coffee and cream, our luxuriously appointed room is the last word in classic, unadorned style, with billowy linen curtains, a thick-pile sisal carpet, luxurious cotton sheets and a marble-clad bathroom creating sumptuous accents. The subdued palette – no doubt chosen to blend discreetly into the surrounding landscape – is offset by Deborah Bell’s striking sculpture, Artemis and Dog I – III that takes centre stage on the manicured lawn below, adding the requisite drama and edge.
Lie of the land
In keeping with the principles of Vastu Shastra (the ancient Hindu science of architecture), space, sunlight, flow and function have been carefully considered on every inch of this landscaped estate – from the Bokkie Garden and serene spa, with its heated swimming pool to the fine-dining restaurants, wine-tasting studio and dinky spirit room where visitors can enjoy gin tastings for R150 – so that a sense of wellbeing prevails.
About the owner
Singh means lion in Sanskrit, which translated into Afrikaans is leeu. According to our breakfast waitress Stephanie Goliath, who took me on an impromptu tour of the estate, her 60-something employer is somewhat of a perfectionist. “He’ll arrive at the estate after three months away, and notice if the smallest thing is out of place. But he won’t ask someone to fix it; he’ll do it himself.” Forbes Asia reported that a total of US$35 million (R460 million) was invested into Mr Singh’s Franschhoek interests, which includes three wine farms, three hotels, five restaurants (including Marigold and Tuk Tuk), a microbrewery and, most recently, a gin bar.
Above and beyond
The exceptional service. It feels as if every single member of staff is fluent in Lion Language, demonstrating a deep and intricate knowledge of the estate, Leeu Collection, and Mr Singh’s story. From waitrons and barmen to drivers and masseurs, the staff goes out of its way to make you feel special and at home.
Mr Singh’s impressive art collection – a mix of quirky, serious and thought-provoking works – that tastefully covers every corner of the estate. Beezy Bailey’s life-size royal blue Peace Man, allegedly Mr Singh’s favourite piece, presides over the reception area – a fitting welcome to this grand estate. Round the corner in the view-drenched lounge is a quirky piece by Daniel Firman, entitled Justine, of a woman leaning against the wall with her jersey over her head. I was so intrigued by its realness that I almost missed the (Irma) Stern and (Vladimir) Tretchikoff hanging by nonchalantly. The list goes on. (Art aficionados should ask to see the art directory, which includes an inventory of every item on the estate.)
Good to know
A three-minute complimentary shuttle takes you to Franschhoek’s pretty high street. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, cycle into town on one of the estate’s bicycles, which are free for use by guests.
Room rate From R11 700 per room per night (depending on season and room type; includes breakfast)
Where to find it Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek, South Africa.