If you love being waited on hand and foot, then the Light House Boutique Suites, located in the heart of the historic winelands town of Paarl, is the place for you.
Think having a tissue handed to you mid-sneeze, soda water and a napkin too if you clumsily mess some soup on yourself during dinner (I may or may not have done this), or a silver tray of chilled bottled water at the ready after a long hike.
A recent weekend escape to the winelands gave me first-hand insight into the Light House’s ethos of luxury and ultra-comfort. Owned by Dirk and Annette Hertzog, it is a well-oiled sanctuary, headed up by General Manager Darrol Buckton and his close-knit team.
Taste, texture and impeccably high epicurean standards take pride of place. I cannot stress it enough; the staff are really next-level extra. While I didn’t mind the fussing – since local hospitality standards often go above and beyond when compared to international five-star standards in my opinion - my husband on the other hand found it overwhelming to a degree. I couldn't help but smirk at his discomfort as every pillow was plumped, door opened and shut as well as chair moved and stowed for our convenience.
As I said, if you don’t like people pandering to your every need, check into another establishment.
And while it’s easy to confuse them with a boutique hotel, this is not a hotel. They do not do room service but will make a plan if you’re super famished and need a little snack - although the in-room bar is well stocked. They also only serve dinner by prior arrangement.
But with the surrounding winelands restaurants, you probably don’t want to spend your time eating and drinking at the same place for your entire stay.
We arrived quite late on the Friday, even though check in is from 2pm. The drive is a quick 45-min drive from central Cape Town.
Traveller24 Tip: I’d suggest using your Friday morning exploring the neighbouring Franschhoek and Stellenbosch – or perhaps a leisurely brunch at Spice Route en route to Paarl is a good idea.
We left this for the Sunday afternoon, after a late breakfast. In retrospect it was too little time to fully appreciate this harvest-land hub for fine wine and food, as well as craft chocolate, gin and beer making.
We had not pre-arranged supper with the Light House that Friday and opted to check out Noop. This is where the locals gather for some “good, unpretentious food”, according to Darrol, who recommended it as an ideal dining experience when in Paarl. See the menu here.
Traveller24 Tip: Noop’s wine list is as thick as a bible and pricey too. If you’re in the mood to pair your wines to your meal – take advantage of the per glass options. We were able to savour a diverse selection of Paarl's best.
From there we headed back to the Light House, watched a movie in our plush Hamptons Suite (One of five at the Light House - click here for their rates) before nodding off into dreamland.
Breakfast is served at 07:30 until 10:30. It is a bright and beautiful affair. They have the usual continental fruit and yoghurt, cheese and a selection of muffins, as well as a choice of a hot breakfast. Each morning there is also a speciality breakfast option. On this morning it was pancakes and bacon. Delicious.
Traveller24 Tip: Even though it was a clear day, the early-morning start meant it was still nippy - layer your hiking clothes so you're comfortable throughout. Pack sunblock and lots of water.
We joined Stephen Richardson, owner of Mellasat Vineyards (famous for its white pinotage) for a three-hour hike. For Stephen, this is his usual weekend gander and he was more than happy to ease his pace for us less-seasoned hikers.
It’s moderate, with some uphill stretches here and there - but one of the many routes available across this reserve, Stephen tells us, so there is something to suit all fitness levels.
Both our Noop Dinner and decadent breakfast of pancakes were well-worked off and we retreated back to our suite for a quick shower and nap before a Wilderer Gin -Barker & Quin G’n’T afternoon.
WATCH: Wilderer side of Paarl: SA fynbos heritage shaken and stirred
The live distillation not only introduced us to how the entrepreneurs of Paarl are collaborating together but we also got to savour a selection of gin cocktails, ideal for your next spring party or picnic. The experience included a scrumptious afternoon tea. Be warned, the selection of freshly-baked cakes is irresistible, so pace yourself.
This was one of two unique experiences arranged by the Light House for us that weekend – just give them a heads up beforehand and they’ll be more than happy to do the same for you. Darrel and his niche team are the embodiment of going above and beyond.
That evening – we met up again with Stephen who treated our group to his in-depth winemaker knowledge during a five-course degustation menu prepared by Executive Chef Janet Richardson, who also happens to be his wife. The duo served up a bespoke menu, packed with unique local ingredients and flavours.
These included Textures of Cauliflower, served with the interesting Mellasat White Pinotage as well as the Springbok with Rosemary Salt paired with a Mellasat Tempranillo 2016 which worked well together - and was a favourite with the group.
An early morning Sunday walk around Paarl was certainly in order, and it was good to see Paarl Rock from a different vantage point as well as the little quaint side-streets of this town's rather long main road - a characteristic of SA dorpies. Stop in for coffee at Maruel, who offer a selection of freshly baked goods too.
But whether you decide to stay in bed for an easy Sunday morning, or head out early to the surrounding winelands - The Light House Boutique Suites promises to indulge and delight you.
More about the Light House Boutique Suites:
The Light House Boutique Suites is ideal for a family or friends exploring the nearby scenic areas with their unique examples of Cape Dutch architecture, mountains, wine estates and some fine restaurants.
Close to the N1 and close to Paarl Main Road, with the Cape Town International airport only 45 minutes away, 30 minutes from Stellenbosch and 25 minutes from Franschhoek, it is centrally and conveniently situated.
The elegant boutique guest house offers both luxury and comfort for the discerning traveller with its five creatively themed and well-appointed and tastefully decorated suites including the Bridal/Honeymoon suite for that romantic breakaway.
Each is uniquely decorated and named. Overall the suites can accommodate up to 10 guests; children of 12 years and older are welcome. When booking the exclusive use of the villa children of all ages are welcome. Free Wifi and on site private parking is available.
For a romantic breakaway ask for the Bedford Manor - the Honeymoon suite. Each room is air-conditioned and comes equipped with a minibar, tea and coffee making facilities and a flat-screen satellite TV and the private bathroom has a frameless shower, a steel-enamel bath, and double basins.
The outdoor area features a large swimming pool and a sun terrace in a tranquil garden setting and activities in the surrounding areas include biking, trail hiking and horse riding.
Key neighbouring attractions to visit:
- Pearl Valley and Paarl Golf Clubat Boschenmeer are close-by for the golfers.
- Visit the Afrikaans Taal Monument – a memorial of the Afrikaans language and those languages that have influenced it
- Babylonstoren is a winelands delight that needs at least half a day – check out their tasting room too while you’re at it.
- Butterfly World -the largest butterfly sanctuary in Africa and a magical experience for both children and adults.
- Do the Heritage Trail, with its unique architectural details.
- And as mentioned before, a visit to Spice Route and Fairview wine farm is a must – but make sure you give yourself enough time to do this.
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*Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted by the Light House Boutique Suites for two nights, including breakfast