It’s that time of year when everyone’s flitting off to France, and you’re left fighting for body warmth like a baby bear, because, let’s face it, Cape Town is not equipped for the cold.
We recently stayed at Franschhoek’s La Cotte Forest Cottages and trust me, it’s just as compelling, if not more.
Enraptured by country living, and surrounded by wisteria, rose and bougainvillea bushes these self-sufficient five-star cottages will resonate with your romantic side.
They already have a reputation that’s spreading far and wide for effortlessly mixing local and foreign influences in every aspect, from the décor to the gardens.
The minute we arrived, my two little boys got stuck into the gardens, refusing to budge until the obliging gardeners had finished their pruning. No one minded, of course, being the gracious people they were.
I delighted in a close inspection of the inside – the style is perfectly synergised between the oldest of old and newest of new. An all-white canvas of immaculately screeded floors and pristine linen, tastefully complemented with colourful cottage scatter cushions and homely headboards. The result is a place that wears its heritage proudly but lightly, with nuances of nature, history and contemporary international style from ceiling to floor.
It’s a perfect place for whiling away the time, but there is so much to explore here; including an Olympic sized swimming pool and a newly built pool house.
Luckily there was time for a quick spot of lunch on the high street before we settled in for the evening.
Like most fine wine aficionados, we know Franschhoek like the back of our hands, so instead of trampling over already covered ground, we decided to try the Tuk Tuk Microbrewery (which for those that don’t know is defined as a brewery which produces limited quantities of beer, mainly for ‘on premises’ consumption).
The newest member of the Leeu Collection, and Cape Brewing Company co-venture, beer lovers can sip through six selections of CBC’s, from Lager to Mandarina Bavaria IPA, Oktoberfest to Amber Weiss, as well as four exclusive handcrafted Tuk Tuk-branded beers: a Lager, Weiss, Dunkel and Pale Ale.
The cuisine? Authentically American/Mexican street-food all the way and it’s pretty punchy. Think Tex-Mex burgers, buttermilk chicken, tacos, nachos, and buffalo wings.
The interiors? Clad in brickwork, glass and stainless-steel service pipes, the space is spotless, edgy and as cool as its coldies.
Too soon, really, the evening was upon us, so we headed back for an early night. And even though it was bitterly cold outside, we were warm as toast with decadently displayed heaters on in just about every room.
The advantage of these cottages is that they are much more spacious than most of the restored cottages found elsewhere in the region, and everything is as it should be, especially on a cosy, winter weekend.
When you’re not shopping up a storm on the high street, there are plenty of distractions to force you into chill mode back at base camp. Ramble through vines, take a dip in the pool, building a braai, reading, sleeping or do absolutely nothing – if ever you need an excuse, I’ve just given you one and this is the place.
La Cotte Farm
Phone: 087 095 2014
Tuk Tuk Microbrewery
Phone: 021 492 2207