Outside of Cape Town

Old Jul 7, 14, 4:07 pm
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Outside of Cape Town

I have planned a honeymoon to South Africa for ~2 weeks. We have 2-3 nights in between our time in Capetown and heading out for safari. I am having trouble choosing between two seemingly great options for this middle portion of the trip:

- Birkenhead House (Hermanus)

- Delaire Graff / La Residence (Winelands)

I understand they are different - one is on the water with whale watching (I believe there are still whales in November) and the others are on vineyards. I'm looking for some opinions on the best overall experience - where would you want to spend 2-3 nights?
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Old Jul 8, 14, 8:06 am
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I'm at Birkenhead for 3 nights in September - it better be good for those prices but the location looks extraordinarily spectacular and the bizarre decor (chandeliers meets beach shack) is promising. There should be whales in November.

We looked long and hard at Delaire Graff and as 5C Members of Relais and Chateaux we might have been treated well. However, it looks a bit too up-itself and design-led for our tastes and that Indochine restaurant isn't very appealing either. It's also way out of town. So we've opted for two nights at Lanzerac - perfect Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful setting, a third of the price of Delaire.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 9:05 am
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Thanks for your input. I agree that the setting of Birkenhead looks great, but then again La Residence looks amazing and it often gets ranked as one of the world's top hotels. Of course, that comes at a price (which is even higher than Birkenhead House). I wonder if anyone has been to either and can comment on the activities available at or near the resort. Obviously at La Residence there are vineyard tours but I also assume there are other activities to take part in. To me that is really the deciding factor, as both are managed by the same group and therefore will likely offer similar accommodations, service, food, etc in a great setting.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by detroit1010 View Post
Thanks for your input. I agree that the setting of Birkenhead looks great, but then again La Residence looks amazing and it often gets ranked as one of the world's top hotels. Of course, that comes at a price (which is even higher than Birkenhead House). I wonder if anyone has been to either and can comment on the activities available at or near the resort. Obviously at La Residence there are vineyard tours but I also assume there are other activities to take part in. To me that is really the deciding factor, as both are managed by the same group and therefore will likely offer similar accommodations, service, food, etc in a great setting.
There are several threads in the forum with comments about Birkenhead and a few comments about La Residence.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...-capetown.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...town+residence
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...town+residence
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/23089894-post183.html
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/luxur...llenbosch.html
Search will probably reveal other comments.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 12:20 pm
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Yeah, I searched the forums and read most of the posts you listed. I was hoping for some comments on activities at these properties as opposed to just words of praise. Or, if someone has been to both, a comparison of the two.
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Old Jul 8, 14, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by detroit1010 View Post
Thanks for your input. I agree that the setting of Birkenhead looks great, but then again La Residence looks amazing and it often gets ranked as one of the world's top hotels. Of course, that comes at a price (which is even higher than Birkenhead House). I wonder if anyone has been to either and can comment on the activities available at or near the resort. Obviously at La Residence there are vineyard tours but I also assume there are other activities to take part in. To me that is really the deciding factor, as both are managed by the same group and therefore will likely offer similar accommodations, service, food, etc in a great setting.
We were married at La Res in 2010 and are returning in Jan 2015. Honestly, I still hope to visit Birkenhead (having been to SA three times now with the fourth coming in Jan), but as we live on the coast in California and are major wine aficionados, we tend to opt for the wine country. To be fair, I think both properties are wonderful, so you should go with your gut--I doubt you can go wrong!

If you love wine, choose the wine country. If you prefer exceptional dining options, then I'd also choose the wine country--as you have so many incredible dining options from which to choose with much less distance to travel. If you prefer the seaside location and view, then Birkenhead is your obvious winner. It's just a matter of what you prefer and want to experience, really.

La Res is extraordinary, but our friends who have been to both said they loved Birkenhead, too--and they also were married at La Res.

We love the tranquility of La Res, not to mention its unusual decor and incredible service, and its setting in one of the world's great wine country dining towns. We are huge dining and wine people, so La Res is an easy choice for us. We live off the SoCal coast and can go whale watching whenever we feel like it, so that has less impact for us. Still, we definitely want to experience Birkenhead on a future trip to SA.

If you do go to Birkenhead and are an adventurous sort, we highly recommend the great white shark dive out of Gonsbaai. We did it in 2010 all the way from Cape Town (we stayed at the Dock House, our absolute favorite in the city), and the drive was crazy long. It would be far easier from Birkenhead. The "dive" was not really a dive--not even a snorkel--since the sharks get so close without you needing to do much at all in the cage right next to the boat--so it's amazing and easy. A major highlight!
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Old Jul 8, 14, 1:22 pm
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Great, thank you so much for the information. A tough decision, but seems like a win-win.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 6:00 am
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Delaire Graff is fabuouls but quite busy with tourists in the main restaurant. Stunning views from all over and the grounds are immaculate, The residences themselves are extremely quiet and the food in Indochine superb. 15 minute drive in to Stellenbosch id that. Definitely recommend it.

Cheers,

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Old Jul 10, 14, 7:17 am
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With 3 nights you could feasibly do both the wine lands and Hermanus. I love Franschhoek - although the Delaire Graff estate is lovely - we just visited didn't stay I suggest the Franschhoek area - La Residence looks gorgeous but in the village there are other options such as Le Quartier Francais. Franschhoek must have the highest density of excellent restaurants anywhere and so inexpensive - a glass of wine even at The Tasting Room at Le QF is only about 3 ($5). Leaving CT early drive up to the wine lands and stay either 1 or 2 nights driving on then to stay at Birkenhead in Hermanus ( or the other way round) that way you won't feel you missed out. I'm not generally a fan of only 1 night anywhere but if you manage your time well and have a full day on your final day before you fly out it should work well.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:45 am
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You cannot compare Le Quartier Francais to La Residence. They are not in the same league. La Residence is simply spectacular. And so is Birkenhead though they are completely different. Both are run and owned by the Royal Portfolio (as is Royal Malewane) but Birkenhead is all inclusive of meals, wine, alcohol etc. while La Residence only includes breakfast and the minibar in the room. Royal Portfolio knows how to run a hotel.
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Old Jul 10, 14, 11:50 am
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Originally Posted by wripro View Post
You cannot compare Le Quartier Francais to La Residence. They are not in the same league. La Residence is simply spectacular. And so is Birkenhead though they are completely different. Both are run and owned by the Royal Portfolio (as is Royal Malewane) but Birkenhead is all inclusive of meals, wine, alcohol etc. while La Residence only includes breakfast and the minibar in the room. Royal Portfolio knows how to run a hotel.
I rather agree, having been married at La Res in 2010 and returning in January 2015. That being said, I think LQF is a nice alternative for those not able or wanting to spend as much or when La Res is full up--as it so often can be with just 11 rooms!
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Old Jul 11, 14, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
I'm at Birkenhead for 3 nights in September - it better be good for those prices but the location looks extraordinarily spectacular and the bizarre decor (chandeliers meets beach shack) is promising. There should be whales in November.

We looked long and hard at Delaire Graff and as 5C Members of Relais and Chateaux we might have been treated well. However, it looks a bit too up-itself and design-led for our tastes and that Indochine restaurant isn't very appealing either. It's also way out of town. So we've opted for two nights at Lanzerac - perfect Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful setting, a third of the price of Delaire.
DG didn't feel very design-led to me; at least not in a Design Hotels type of way. La Residence, on the other hand, looks very design-driven (just going from photos; haven't visited).

I've been to Lanzerac; don't oversell it It's pleasant enough, and a useful base for Stellenbosch, being in a quiet residential area but within striking distance of town, but hard and soft product is nothing special.

I wouldn't characterise Delaire Graff as way out of town; it's a very short and lovely drive down the sinuous curves of the Helshoogte Pass. Agree about the food; while Indochine is very much their second restaurant, I didn't find either of Delaire's restaurants to be particularly memorable. There's always Tokara, literally across the road, if you get hungry.
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Old Jul 11, 14, 12:51 pm
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Originally Posted by ThudAndBlunder View Post
DG didn't feel very design-led to me; at least not in a Design Hotels type of way. La Residence, on the other hand, looks very design-driven (just going from photos; haven't visited).
Has anyone been to both DG and La Residence? I'd be curious for possible future stays. We love La Res, having been married there, but it's always fun to sample other properties when they might offer another wonderful experience. Cape Town is my favorite place in the world, so it would be nice to know whether DG measures up to La Res in others' estimations.

La Res's design is NOT our cup of tea--it looks like design overload to us! But we STILL loved it...as it was a beautiful escape from the clean modern look that we prefer at home. Its service was extraordinary, and we loved being in Franschhoek.

Still, it would be nice to consider Grand Roche, DG, and even Le Quartier Francais as alternatives for future stays to experience different things in the Winelands.
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Old Jul 11, 14, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
Still, it would be nice to consider Grand Roche, DG, and even Le Quartier Francais as alternatives for future stays to experience different things in the Winelands.
Grand Roche in Paarl used to be the finest hotel in the winelands, I think. It was Relais & Chateaux and the restaurant was usually regarded as the finest south of, well, south of France actually. Recent reviews on TA seem good but maybe this place doesn't cut the mustard anymore.

I know a lot of people on here like La Residence but I really want the authentic Cape Dutch architecture in this area.
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Old Jul 12, 14, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Pausanias View Post
Grand Roche in Paarl used to be the finest hotel in the winelands, I think. It was Relais & Chateaux and the restaurant was usually regarded as the finest south of, well, south of France actually. Recent reviews on TA seem good but maybe this place doesn't cut the mustard anymore.

I know a lot of people on here like La Residence but I really want the authentic Cape Dutch architecture in this area.
Fair enough! Please do share details and a review of Lanzerac after your stay so we can all hear your thoughts!

We had considered Grand Roche for our wedding in 2010 because of that same beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, but in the end couldn't choose against the service and intimacy of La Residence...not to mention all of the fantastic dining options in Franschhoek.
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