Accommodation review for Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel and Spa – (Stellenbosch- Western Cape)
This year my Mother’s Day treat was a short whirlwind trip to visit my eldest daughter in the quaint historical town of Stellenbosch. One of the most beautiful towns in the world I rate, and one all international visitors should make a turn to when visiting our fairest Cape. We always stay at Clouds Estate when we visit as a family which is a little out of town -about 7 km up the hill on the Helshoogte pass toward Franschoek. (Highly recommended *****)
It was only my daughter and I this trip and so I thought central town would be a better option and ideal for her to rush back and forth to lectures, and for us to walk into town each night to one of many award winning restaurants that are all within one or two streets of each other.
This time Coopmanhuijs caught my eye, as it is a fairly ‘new kid on the block’ and seems to be well recommended by Trip advisor and other travel sites.
Built in 1713, Coopmanhuijs was one of the first grand residences in the heart of Stellenbosch, and is now surrounded by the towns many stylish restaurants, galleries and shops. It is in Church Street and the view from the hotel up the oak lined avenue ends with the picturesque church steeple of ‘die Moederkerk’ (The Mother Church in Afrikaans.)
You cannot get more central than this and due to parking being at such a premium in this part of town, Coopmanhuijs offer a valet service to park and fetch your car from a nearby underground parking lot. This worked perfectly for us, but I have noticed one or two comments that past visitors have had parking problems, so just be sure to check this with the manager on booking, as it could be rather stressful in busy high season periods.
From my initial call to make the reservation, well spoken Ilzabet , the General Manager was charming and extremely helpful.
They were offering a great autumn special where you book for three nights, but only pay for two and each guest gets a complimentary spa treatment during their stay.
The beautifully restored Cape Dutch Manor House has stinkwood doors and tall double volume sash windows as well as old creaky reclaimed floors which leave an atmosphere steeped in history.
Our room on the first floor (No 7) was fairly small in South African terms but more than adequate and had a narrow verandah which was just wide enough for two chairs and a round table. I did peep into the vacant room next door which was a lot bigger but it only had a shower, so I was more than happy with our room and huge luxurious bathroom.
The house has a lift and so is suitable for elderly or wheelchair bound guests. The traditional ‘H’ shape has passages and rooms in every direction and creates an atmosphere of charm and inquisitiveness as you wander through the maze finding the way to your room. It has a warm inviting feel and as soon as the temperature drops slightly, a blazing fire is lit in the one of two lounges for guests to enjoy as they return from browsing the streets.
The décor is traditional and stylish and our very comfortable queen size bed was laden with white crispy percale linen and good quality puffy pillows. The side tables and headboards were a combination of cream washed and natural oak timbers which complimented the old oak built-in-cupboards. In the cupboard was a fully stocked bar fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. A safe, wide enough to take my computer was easily accessible in the one end of the cupboard.
Bathroom fittings always tell you a story and I was delighted to see that they had used the St James range of sanitary ware and taps.
Heated floors on tiled floors are a must in this part of the world as the trees have turned burnt orange and the vines wine red so the temperatures are soon to drop to zero and below.
From the minute we walked out of our room the next morning, we only had to follow the delightful smells of home-baked bread and croissants down the winding passages, past the Dutch style open plan kitchen to the tasting room, where a feast was awaiting us.
Cereals, yoghurts, a selection of cold meats and fruits, freshly picked granadillas sliced in half and served with teaspoons to scoop to your delight are a few of the options available for breakfast as well as a selection of home baked breads and anything cooked you could wish for.
We took our seats in the dining room next door which is cozy and inviting, clad in flocked textured French wallpaper, and sat sipping our tea with the wintery sun streaming through the tall windows, trying to decide what to try next.
Crispy miniature mince samoosa’s served with a sweet chilli jam, tiny ham, and cheese puff pastry pies, smoked salmon on blini’s with sour cream, or a healthy toasted muesli and yoghurt were one of many options. Hot breakfast could be ordered from the very helpful and friendly staff that could not have done enough for the guests.
While waiting for my daughter, who had rushed off to an early 8a.m. lecture, I sat in the stylish lounge at the raging fireplace, surrounded by oversized bookcases and wine cabinets sipping on my vanilla rooibos tea waiting to be called to the spa for one of my two treatments.
Sadly the spa treatments were a bit disappointing to me, as I consider myself a massage expert! (Massages are mandatory on any holiday for me.) But hey, nice to have on offer as an optional extra to any stay.
To sum it up, Coopmanhuijs is a winner! The most convenient position to experience the hib vibe of this mystical town. It is impossible to miss out on anything here. Would I go back? Most definitely!
IN BRIEF: (out of 5 stars)
Hotel Service: *****
Room Service: ** (ladies were rather noisy during quiet afternoon snooze time)
Outside areas: ****
Parking:*** (this could be a prob so check with the manager on booking)
Would I stay here again: ***** (most definitely)
Within a few meters of Coopmanhuijs are so many award winning restaurants it is hard to choose where to book each night.
I have included a brief list of restaurants that we have eaten at more than once, with a brief review of each to assist you in choosing where to book your evening meals. Click on the restaurant name to be linked to their web sites if they have one.
(Average main meal per person will cost you: $ R0 – R75.00 $$ R75-R120.00 $$$ R120.00 upward)
The Big Easy: $$$ I love this grand place. Easy on the eye, lovely on the palate, BIG on the credit card. Do not choose this restaurant as ‘the treat ‘you take your student children and their friends to for dinner when visiting them. You will be rather broke at the end of the meal! This was designed for big anniversary celebrations or for tourists with Euros!
It is Ernie Els’s signature restaurant. Sadly very poorly supported the night we were there.
Manouche: $½ Lebanese style restaurant. The street side seats are at a premium even in cooler weather as each chair is clad with a warm red blanket for those who feel the cold. Worth booking or waiting for these seats or the ones just inside in front of the chef. Love this Eastern atmosphere. Takes me right back to the restaurants in Naama Bay, Egypt. Good fire food cooked in a wood oven, huge portions, crazy loud chef, hubbly bubblies all round if it is your thing. A hit with the trendy set. Very reasonably priced for the size of the meal.
Cape to Cuba:$½ Originally our favorite place in Kalk Bay. Delighted when it opened in Stellies but over the last three years have had three or four disappointing meals. Sadly what the atmosphere promises did not get delivered in the food every time. Inconsistent, but hey, it is such a lovely venue we always take the risk. 50/50 chance of good meal all round. NB New owners just taken over so please give them the benefit of the doubt. Please go – even if it is for cocktail and deep fried Cuban bread – one of the best things I have tasted!
Die Wynhuis. Being going for years. (As you walk up the stairs ask for a table to the LHS under one of the windows overlooking Dorp Street.) Last night I had home-made lamb and rosemary ravioli with burnt butter and herbs. V.Good, but a little small as a main meal. Steaks are great. Calamari was great. HUGE wine selection and separate menu for wine by the glass which is great as you can taste some very good wines by the glass that you would normally not have the opportunity to try.
Java Cafe and Coffee shop: $ Good lunch time venue, always packed, reasonable prices especially for cash strapped students.
Café Crème: 021 886 9760 – 40 Ryneveld Street. ($) Our first stop in Stellies. I LOVE everything about this café. The décor, the French atmosphere, the food is incredible and amazingly prepared in a 2 x 4 meter corner in the back of the café. Prices are great. Never had a bad anything here. Always have specials. I would recommend a wrap or their freshly baked goodies displayed in glass cloches on the french server at the window. Good luck getting a table at lunch time!
Café Dijon: $$ French bistro. Love the food and the fact that they always serve a fantastic house wine.(Last night the red house wine was Pepper Pot.) Rib eye fantastic. Duck really good. Must have the chocolate fondant for dessert if it is on special. Recommend booking.
Café Lafayette:$ An odd looking little restaurant that you may glance in and walk past. Book and go especially on a Thursday night if they are offering their fire food evenings. Their pasta’s are good, and lamb shank was great and very reasonably priced and a lovely cozy atmosphere at night. Teabag the street ‘bergie’ (lady who lives on the streets) stops by every evening and the charming owner kindly fills her tin mug with hot coffee. Don’t compare food to the fine dining restaurants, you are ordering home cooked simple food and paying for the atmosphere! Book the tables in front of the pizza oven when it is cold or out on the street in summer. (click here to read this lovely article by Paul Murray.)
The Long table – Haskell’s Wine Estate. About 10 minutes drive out of Stellies toward Somerset Park. Book to go on a special lunch date on a beautiful day. The views out and over the vineyards are wonderful and the setting outside under beautiful trees is awe inspiring. Probably the best meal I have had in years was the de-boned oxtail that was on offer the day we went. Highly recommended. Call and book as it is a short drive away.
Bodega – Dornier wine estate. Lovely casual restaurant for lunch or dinner, but please call as they are only open on three or four days of the week. Their mezze platters are ideal to order for a light lunch in the wine tasting room.
Waterford Wine Estate: no food on offer but what a wonderful way to spend a few hours in a beautiful environment. You feel like a wealthy Italian movie star sitting at wrought iron tables on coir mats on the verandah of the central court yard. I highly recommend the chocolate and wine pairing tasting. Take your time and enjoy the décor, high ceilings and wonderful wine and chocolates.