Baronial, worldly, splendid
Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek, South Africa +27 21-876-4100 www.theroyalportfolio.com
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At a Glance
There’s no place like Liz Biden’s hotels, in large part because they all started as her family’s vacation homes. In 1999, the former fashion entrepreneur transformed the Bidens’ property in Thornybush Private Game Reserve into Royal Malewane, and hospitality in South Africa had a new star. La Residence, in the Cape Winelands and Birkenhead House, on the coast, followed. While the properties—and their locations—are distinctive, what’s consistent is the personal touch in both the design of the spaces and the service. La Residence’s intimate boutique lodgings seem as transporting as its location in Franschhoek, and the property feels exquisitely personal.
The Standout: The stunning and eclectic design throughout the estate, with its antiques, art, colorful fabrics and flower-filled vases everywhere
Don’t Miss: Sitting in your room—maybe in your tub; smelling the gardenias; sipping a glass of wine from the acres of vineyards, which fill every window’s view against the backdrop of green mountains that touch solid blue skies
- Interiors that make you never want to leave your room
- Superior Rooms, which have corner locations and sweeping views
- The wonderful staff who will arrange private meals and special activities, such as wine tasting and horseback riding
La Residence Review
When you stand on the lawn at La Residence, the Cape Winelands’ most decadent boutique hotel, mountains completely encircle you. Steel-blue silhouettes and craggy gray cliffs plunge to a blanket of pine trees, which border a patchwork of crops: plums, grapes, olive trees. Then, in the foreground, the property’s parterres spill over with white roses. That the interiors are just as dreamy and dramatic seems only appropriate.
Originally designed as the private home of Phil and Liz Biden (a South African power couple who also own the esteemed Royal Malewane and Birkenhead House), La Residence feels exquisitely personal. The hotel is centered on a Provençal courtyard, with ochre stucco walls and a pool surrounded by wildflowers. There are just 11 guest rooms, each unique and over-the-top fabulous. Liz was once a fashion designer, and her passion and panache is evident in every detail. This is a place of persimmon silk pillows, crushed pink velvet, Chinese screens, 15-foot ceilings, gilt garlands adorning antique dressers and a croquet lawn that doubles as a helipad. Cheeky eclecticism reigns, leading to amusing juxtapositions: in the main lodge, delicate crystal chandeliers hang from gnarled poplar beams salvaged from a barn in Mombasa. The art is serious; the mood is opulent. Each room has a theme, with abundant use of jewel tones and luxurious textures. The Frangipani Suite, for instance, has a four-poster bed made of marble and a crystal chandelier in the palatial bathroom.
The hotel allows for children over 10 years in the main hotel. For families with small children, or guests wanting more privacy, the property has five vineyard villas, set apart from the main hotel ranging from one to three bedrooms. There is also a second pool and club house for guests of the villas to enjoy.
As fabulous as the rooms are, one of the best parts of the La Residence experience is mealtime. Whether you are having breakfast amidst the mainly peacocks that roam the estate, or a specially arranged private dinner, the wonderful staff will arrange a table for you near one of the towering stone fireplaces, seating you in tall red leather armchairs by a crackling fire, and serving you local wines and fresh fare. While grand and opulent, La Residence is somehow cozy and intimate at the same time: just another day in your own private château.
Who Should Stay
Sybarites, fantasists, indulgers. Full of color and life and imagination, La Residence is for travelers who like drama, interior design and intimate service. Children are allowed in the vineyard villas (equipped with their own pools), but not in the main house.