Luxuriate in the Artistic Haven of Leeu Estates, Franschhoek
When you arrive at the gate of a property, are greeted by name and “We’ve been expecting you”, you know that you’re going to be in for a special stay. Leeu Estates, part of the the Leeu Collection portfolio, is set at the foot of the Dassenberg mountains in Franschhoek and is owned by Analjit Singh, who has become synonymous with new development in the area of late. His group has also known for its impeccable style and luxury to the nth degree.
The grounds of Leeu Estates at Dassenberg are absolutely immaculate, not a leaf is out of place. The drive through the property to the reception area passes lawns and young vines, all of which are perfectly manicured – nipped and tucked by a team of garden management who only operate at certain times of the day, so as not to disturb the guest experience. This is just one example of the degree that the team have gone to to ensure that guests have the ultimate stay.
The rooms, some of which are in the main house, and others that are located in the gardens of the property, all overlook the lush green lawns, which are dotted with an enviable collection of incredible artworks – one of the hallmarks of the venue.
The main garden is home to Artemis, goddess of hunting and her pack of wild dogs; she is a bold presence in the space and is central to the other pieces of work dotted around the property both inside and out.
Art lovers will be entranced by this private collection that boasts pieces from notable South African artists such as Guy du Toit, Beezy Bailey and Lionel Smit, plus pieces from international artists as well. You can spend a good few hours just browsing the art inside and out… and you really should.
The interior of the hotel lounge, patio and communal areas are all beautifully decorated and manage to find a level of opulence through the selection of lush textiles and thoughtful finishings, while still remaining tasteful and comfortable. Our suite was located inside the main manor house and was extremely spacious. A full lounge area to relax in, as well as a huge room and private patio. The patio has been built around an enormous tree that provides wonderful shade and the perfect spot to sit back with a good book, or as we did, with a bottle of wine and a board of local cheeses. Every detail has been thought of and the cool, muted colour palette extends the feeling of ultimate relaxation.
Dinner is served in The Dining Room and chef, Oliver Cattermole, has put together a menu that has the sophistication of the surroundings but without overdoing the pomp and ceremony.
Before even selecting off the menu you’ll be served a home-baked bread basket, accompanied by fresh butter and whipped beef tallow, which can only be described as utterly mesmerising.
This umami bomb has the deceptive look and texture of marshmallow fluff but with the deliciously savoury flavour of rich beef fat. On the menu expect dishes such as Asian-style Grass-fed Beef Tartare with Beef Crackling and Tempura Langoustines with Smoked Leeks, Wild Garlic and Parsley Sauce. Mains include sophisticated options such Oak Valley Angus beef, served with Heirloom Carrots, Foie Gras and Beef Jus, as well as a more simplistic offering of Korean Fried Chicken, served with sesame cabbage salad with kimchi mayonnaise. Overall the menu is modern, fresh and showcases local ingredients.
Breakfast, served on the deck outside The Dining Room, is also a luxurious yet understated affair. Delicious granolas and thick Greek yoghurt, featherlight pastries and a full menu of hot dishes as well. You can have a leisurely morning taking in the view and the perfect valley weather as we did.
One of the things that is a priority for the Leeu Collection, is offering their guests a premium wine experience, and, as such, they joined forces with well-known South African winemaking family, the Mullineuxs, forming Mullineux and Leeu Family Wines.
At Leeu Estates there is a working cellar that can be seen from within the tasting area and tastings are guided by a seriously knowledgeable team, led by tasting room manager, Lizzie Groenewald. During the wine tasting I was introduced to some of the collection’s most well-respected wines, including the award-winning Mullineux Syrah, which beautifully expresses the complex terroir it is grown in. A visit to Leeu Estates would not be complete without a wine tasting experience – you’ll leave energised by the team that speak with such obvious passion about the wines work with
Leeu Estates also has a world-class spa, as well as well-equipped gym area. If you have the time (unfortunately we didn’t), then book in for a treatment or just relax at the spa pool. The spa is designed in a way that best showcases the beautiful view of the pool area and is all round a calming, relaxing place to spend a few hours in.
I’ll admit, it’s hard to leave the comforting embrace of Leeu Estates; nothing is too much for the attentive team of staff and the estate truly is beautiful. When he first visited Franschhoek in 2010, Analjit Singh described experiencing “a deep sense of belonging, of energy, a sense of place” and I must say I feel the same way about the area. It is my favourite corner of the country and a stay at the lovely Leeu Estates will most likely confirm it as yours too.
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