TLE started its recent South African adventure in the country’s Cape Winelands. Here, about an hour’s drive east of Cape Town, one finds stunning scenery of dramatic mountains, and verdant valleys planted with vines. Amongst these privileged, historic wine estates we discovered Majeka House, a boutique spa hotel.
With a bold, plush, highly individual style, this small luxury hotel with beautiful gardens and destination restaurant makes for a seductive escape. Expect a warm welcome, creative attention to detail, design flair, tranquil spa, fine dining and luxe accommodation.
Secluded in a chic neighbourhood, a few minutes’ drive south from the posh winelands town of Stellenbosch, close to many of South Africa’s most acclaimed wineries and restaurants, is this French-owned, 5 star, small luxury hotel.
It’s about an hour’s drive from Cape Town’s International Airport, well positioned as a base for exploring the idyllic winelands countryside.
As I arrived, the high exterior wall and iron gates gave little indication of what to expect once inside. Driving into the courtyard parking one is greeted by tall Cyprus trees and understated, white Mediterranean-style buildings – it looks much like a private residential estate.
It’s not until one walks inside the designer lobby, catching glimpses of the striking MLounge cocktail salon and the Makaron Restaurant that one gets a real feel of the place.
Eclectic, theatrical, fun and luxurious are all adjectives that come to mind. Oriental rugs, art, custom furniture and some homey touches together create the distinctive Majeka ‘look’.
I also couldn’t help noticing ornamental pigs from the owner’s private collection! After a while you can’t escape these porcine ornaments. Some are ornate, others simple; there’s even an elaborate gold sculpture – all part of the unique personality of this property.
Welcome & Check-In
Nicole checked me in, offering a natural and genuine welcome and gave me an overview of the hotel. As we sorted the paperwork, I nibbled on French homemade cakes offered at the reception desk! Nicole then took me to my ‘Mountain View Suite’.
The property is a series of inter-linked buildings, each offering different orientations, views and styles. The owners Karine and Lloyd were not there to say hello, but Nicole was a perfect ambassador. During my stay we chatted about Africa, food and hospitality – if this young woman is indicative of South Africa’s future then there is a lot to be positive about.
In addition to the treats in the room, my welcome amenity including a salt soak in the Majeka Spa, which also features a large indoor pool as well as treatment and relaxation rooms. There’s an adjacent fitness space.
Located on the first floor of the adjacent building, reached by a path and outdoor stairway is the suite.
It instantly appealed, with its feeling of space and stylish, humorous design touches.
Majeka House has 23 rooms, divided into the following types: 12 Premier Collection; 3 more spacious Garden Alternative; 4 luxury Poolside Choice, with semi-private pools; and 4 Mountain View Selection.
My Mountain View suite had a mixture of antique, vintage, and contemporary design combined to create a welcoming ambiance. This was certainly no generic hotel room, but one that had been crafted with thought and taste. Extravagantly framed period style prints and art hung on the walls, contrasting with the simplicity of the contemporary four poster bed and the understated putty grey walls and linen curtains.
The large space was divided by an innovative column that suspended from the ceiling housing the flat screen TV. One side was the living area, with tan leather sofas, a fire place and terrace doors opening onto a balcony with views over the gardens to the mountains beyond.
The other side was the bedroom. The wooden, herringbone floor gave warmth, whilst the cool grey of the walls and curtains gave a feeling of calm and space.
At the centre of the bedroom was the bed, simply made with white linens, but with plenty of pillows (French and English style). Above the bed hung horizontally a grand master style painting adding a fun design aspect – to be enjoyed when lying in bed. On each night stand, on classic gilded trays were two bottles of complimentary still and sparkling water in vintage porcelain stopper bottles.
The large double wardrobes had a safe, pool bag, towels, robes and even a small laminated map on a cord sharing jogging routes of the local area. Absent, strangely, were slippers.
The writing desk had a Bose speaker, reading lamp etc. and a personalised welcome note from Karine and Lloyd.
The minibar area was very well equipped with espresso machine with complementary espresso pods, kettle with gourmet teas and a selection of fine bone tea cups, and espresso cups etc. – oh, and a silver tin filled with complimentary cookies!
By most hotel standards, the bathroom was cavernous – a cool space with vintage touches; like oversized white tiles with stylish dark grout and a classic bath tub. A double walk-in shower with hardwood floor, and separate W.C were each behind glass doors – I loved the theatrical touches like the classic bust sculpture and huge candle stocks that decorated the room.
Premium bath and body amenities were by South African Malēe Natural Science – full size, glass bottles of aromatherapy lotions and potions, together with glass jars or cotton buds, cotton wool etc.
Food & Wine
Majeka House’s reputation suggests that it is a destination not only a relaxing escape but for dining too. I visited off-season, and the award-winning restaurant, Makaron, was closed for the night. I was offered an alternative date that sadly I couldn’t make, but I regretted this as Tanya Krugar’s kitchen continues to set the heart racing for foodies.
Instead I ate simply from the Grill Menu available everyday – specialising in South African ‘braai’ (a grill, like a BBQ) favourites including lamb chops, warthog, steaks, ribs and fish.
Entering the stylish, plush and warm MLounge I was met by the sound of music; a fellow guest was playing the grand piano – not a bad way to start a leisurely evening of tasty food and fine South African wines, (including the delicious Dalla Cia Sauvignon Blanc).
Puddings were served in the suite, in front of the fire – now that’s what I call luxury!
Wow – that’s what I felt as soon as I walked into the Makaron Restaurant for breakfast! One is met by a long table, (above which hung an abundance of gold pendant lamps) laden with beautifully presented, appetising foods that just make you want to forget any commitment to a diet and just tuck in and enjoy.
The breakfast team were friendly and chatty and offered a la carte dishes – I opted for the eggs benedict, a dish that is typically always well made in South Africa.
Rest of the Hotel
Gardens and terraces, with cobalt blue sofas, chairs and tables surround the property, creating plenty of relaxing corners to chill out and relax. There is an outside heated pool and spa hot tub.
By European standards the wifi was poor but during my stay throughout South Africa I generally found the Internet to be glacially slow – more an issue with national infrastructure than any particular hotel.
Check out was 11am – early in my experience. I just wish I was able to stay longer.
Rooms in low season start from 120.00 GB pounds including gourmet breakfast for double occupancy (or around 90.00 GB pounds for single occupant).
Address: 26-32 Houtkapper Street, Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch 7600 Western Cape
Tel: +27 21 8801512
Review carried out by Andrew Forbes