A hotel that takes the time and effort to build around its stellar 300-year-old oak tree is just class in our books – everything else aside.
And there is no denying Cellars-Hohenort, as part of the Liz McGrath collection is a classy affair.
After spending a cosy weekend at Cellars, one of its three fine hotels across SA, the 9.5 acre garden is an impressive aspect that adds to the winter allure of this country escape. It blends into the World heritage site that is Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, just beneath Table Mountain and mere minutes away from the urban pulse of Cape Town.
While you might think this sort of escape lends itself more to a romantic weekend away or as a mainstay on any discerning foodie travellers bucket list you wouldn’t be far off, since it is especially well-known for its fine dining Greenhouse Restaurant under the creative direction of Chef Peter Tempelhoff, as well as the High Tea served at The Conservatory – where the ancient oak takes pride of place and its menu pandered to the classical tastes of the former Mrs M. However I soon discovered that Cellars is surprisingly family friendly, with the attentive staff, some of whom have been there for more than 15 years I’m told, going out of their way to make my two boys feel welcomed and comfortable.
With its luxury roaring fireplaces, fine cuisine and wine, this is a winter luxury retreat of note, and with rambunctious boys in tow the resident ducks and cat Angel did its bit to keep them entertained.
What is it with kids wanting to chase after animals?!
Anyway, here are some standout reasons why you should head there for your next mini-break in Cape Town and capture some magical family memories along the way.
The Gardens and winter walks will leave you feeling enchanted
Enjoy crisp walks across this expansive garden, while the weather can be up and down there is something enchanting about walking in a damp, mossy forest – with fresh rainfall making the flora and fauna all the more interesting. Cellars-Hohenort's garden features the second-oldest camphor trees in South Africa, a vineyard, secret doorways and beautiful rose gardens – be sure to arrange a garden tour for a deeper look at one of the world’s most magical privately owned gardens.
Suggested walks in close proximity to Cellars-Hohenort include:
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is the perfect place for families. Pack a picnic or lunch at the tea garden. Entrance to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are R60 for Adults, R15 for Children (6 - 17 years). Children under 6 years and BOTSOC members can enter free of charge.
The contour path just above Kirstenbosch requires moderate fitness and makes for a leisurely and scenic stroll. You should also walk into the Gardens and check out the Boomslang Walkway, named SA’s most beautiful object in 2015.
Cecelia Waterfall is said to be an ideal trip to take, especially after a rainy, winter’s night.
Also moderate in its intensity. “Head along Rooikat Ravine until you reach Cecilia Ravine where you’ll find the waterfall. The trail continues around Spilhaus Ridge into Spilhaus Ravine and a path going up to the Bridal Path.” You can also head down into Kirstenbosch from here.
De Hel Nature Area is an easy walk and quite close to the hotel. Bordering the Constantia Nek Road is where you will find the entry point and car park. “This walk swallows you into a dense meadow, with towering trees and thick foliage.”
Food, food and more delectable food
We did not dine at the Greenhouse, and I’ll have to head back there at some point when my chef husband isn’t bound to this passion-driven industry himself. Needless to say, we replaced the fine dining option, not really suited to tastes of a five and seven-year-old, with the fun of ordering room service from the special kids menu.
Be warned these gourmet goodness portions are huge, as the boys could barely finish their free-range cheese burgers. Together with watching the selection of movies delivered for them, along with treats and snacks which I was forced to turn a blind-eye to, they threatened to pull a stay-awake but eventually nodded off in the middle of the second movie, all the while wrapped up in the fluffy bathrobes donned after a good soak in the tub. Our snuggly evening in the plush and tasteful suite is one we won’t easily forget. And while they did set up an extra bed for us, we ended up sprawling together in the main bed.
Breakfast at The Conservatory is relaxed, reinforces that country feeling as you get to enjoy the winter sun and take it easy. Expect the classical continental, they also accommodated the boys with lovely hot chocolate drinks on arrival and specially made portions of bacon and eggs.
For those who are watching their carb intake, the Cellars-Hohenort chefs have created a Low Carb High Tea. Savoury offerings include Crispy Prawns, Roasted Red Peppers & Goats Cheese Tarts, Grass Fed Beef and Peppadew Sosaties. While for the sweet portion you can indulge in Dark Chocolate & Beetroot Cupcakes, Fresh Fruit Pavlovas, Yoghurt Honey Panna Cotta and of course what’s a high tea without some scones. Make more of an accession of this by popping a bottle of local Cap Classique.
On-site pampering or adventuring in and around Cape Town
Being in such cosy, lush surroundings is ideal for some winter pampering and spoiling. Head to the Fresh Wellness spa, booking in advance is advised. The boys were eager to dip into the heated pool but it wasn’t heated during our stay. I must admit I wasn’t complaining as I wasn't particularly keen for them to spend the morning in the outdoor pool even if it was heated, as the weather was quite nippy.
But if you are basing yourself at Cellars-Hohenort there is ample to keep the kids entertained while in Cape Town – see our specially curated list for the upcoming school holidays here.
Otherwise check-out one of the following...
A Wheel of Excellence ride will give them spectacular views of the city from the heart of the Waterfront - it runs Monday to Sunday from 10:00 till late. Adults (16 years) pay R120 and children (4-15 years) R60. Kids under 4 years ride or free. Thereafter you can treat the to the spoils of speciality kids store, Hamleys.
Cycle on the Sea Point promenade – The Sea Point promenade is the hub of family outings in Cape Town, plus you can teach your kid to ride a bike there! Try UpCycles. You pay R60 to hire the bike for one hour.
Cape Point Funicular – If you’ve been up the Table Mountain Cableway, opt for this equally scenic option. Children pay R25 for a return trip on the funicular, adults pay R65.
Springbok Experience - You cannot call yourself the ultimate Springbok supporter until you've visited the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum, in the V&A Waterfront. Families of four pay R210.
The Ice Rink - Cape Town has a cool new way for the kids to beat the summer heat as SA's first outdoor ice-rink has opened up in here. Since it's winter, it's bound to be even cooler...
City Rock - If your kids still have energy left, take them rock climbing. This technical sport will stimulate core strength in a fun but safe and vibrant environment.
The Cellars-Hohenort contact details:
General Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 (0)21 794 2137
Be sure to check out their off-season specials.
*Disclaimer: Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted by Cellars-Hohenort including accommodation and meals.