I fell in love with Cellars-Hohenort Hotel on first sight on my first visit here ten years ago. Though I love to explore new places, this hotel is one of those few I come back time and again. It is a place that beautifully evokes the South African Western Cape’s Dutch history; at the same time it makes you feel at home from the moment you arrive.
Tucked away at the eastern slopes of Table Mountain in the lovely Constantia Valley, South Africa’s most historic wine-growing area, the hotel is nevertheless only a 20 minute drive from vibrant downtown Cape Town.
Once the home of Hendrik ten Damme from the famous Dutch East India Company, the first buildings on the estate were already built in the 1690s. At the time it was known as the Klaasenbosch Estate. In the 1700s it became one of the earliest working farms and wine estate of the area.
Built in 1907 by a later owner of the Klassenbosch Estate, the Hohenort building replaced the farm’s original manor house.
The estates former wine cellars was later transformed into a private residence and then into a country guesthouse called ‘The Cellars’. It became a 5-star luxury hotel in 1991 when it was bought by Liz McGrath together with some of the other buildings of the original wine farm. Two years later, in 1993 she also bought the Hohenort building and created today’s Cellars-Hohenort.
The estate has maintained the historic character of its elegant time-worn buildings thanks to an excellent and careful restoration. At the same time it offers all the amenities and contemporary features you’d expect from a luxury retreat.
The rooms are all uniquely decorated, featuring antique furnishings, comfy beds, plush sofas or chairs and marble clad spacious bathrooms.
The buildings are surrounded by nine acres of meticulously curate gardens with manicured lawns, huge oak trees, 300-year old Chinese camphor trees and indigenous yellowwoods.
And there are flowers. Lots of beautiful flowers. Everywhere on the estate, from the beautiful rose garden in front of the main buildings to the many corners of the courtyard and garden.
The small vineyard located on the estate was re-planted with the original grape variety, although it is too small to produce its own Cellars-Hohenort wine.
The hotel also has its own private Spa, two heated outdoor pools, a tennis court and a nearby golf course.
If you are in the mood for pre or after-dinner drinks (or both), you don’t have to go far either. Choose between the Martini, which is located in the Cellars building or the Fern bar, the hotel’s second bar located in the Hohenort building.
Cellars-Hohenhort is home to two excellent restaurants. Both are overseen by Head Chef Peter Tempelhoff, one of South Africa’s leading chefs.
Constantly ranked amongst South Africa’s Top 10 restaurants, Greenhouse restaurant serves a fine dining tasting menu and is perfect if you are looking for something really special.
The more relaxed but nevertheless classy Conservatory restaurant offers a classic South African inspired cuisine. Sitting behind thick glass walls, there is a 200-year old oak tree in the middle of the restaurant and floor-to-ceiling windows open the view to the beautiful forest-garden.
If they are on the menu, go for the crispy prawns or deep-fried calamari. They are simply to-die for.
Breakfast at the hotel is served at the Conservatory. During the warmer months, the tables on the patio overlooking the beautiful garden are the preferred choice.
In proximity to the hotel, you will find some of South Africa’s most historic wineries – including Groot Constantia (the oldest winery in South Africa), Klein Constantia, Constantia Glen, Beau Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Constantia Utsig and Steenberg Vineyards – as well as the world-renown Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
The Cellars-Hohenort is a member of Relais & Chateaux Hotels.
93 Brommersvlei Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Have you been to Cellars-Hohenort, or any other hotel in the Constantia Valley? I’d love to hear about your experience.