South Africa: 10 top wine hotels

Delaire Graff Estate
Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch


Babylonstoren, Paarl

Fynbos Cottages. Credit: Babylonstoren

On every level, Babylonstoren is a knock out. One of the Cape’s oldest farms (founded in 1692) has been transformed into a picture-perfect rural idyll, best appreciated on the sundowner drive up the slopes of Simonsberg, one of several spoils exclusive to staying guests. When Koos Bekker and Karen Roos purchased the farm in 2007 they set about creating a formal kitchen garden in the classic French style, with the aid of French architect Patrice Taravella, whose work at Prieuré Notre Dame d’Orsan they much admired. A restaurant to serve the garden and farm produce followed; the hotel the next extension – 13 cottages built in the Cape Dutch style on the footprints of the original labourers’ cottages, with contemporary glass cube ‘clip ons’.

One- and two-bedroom Fynbos Cottages have also been added and 2022 saw a large-scale reinvention of the lovely spa. Every detail is considered, from gates that close with riverstone counterweights to the blue china shards unearthed by gardeners displayed under glass, gorgeous cockerels strutting through your garden at dawn to freshly harvested produce and wine in your elegant cottage. The 2023 regional winner for Best Accommodation in Great Wine Capitals, Babylonstoren is indeed in a class of its own.

Don’t miss: Babylonstoren Nebukadnesar 2020

Brookdale Estate, Paarl

Backdropped by the jagged Klein Drakenstein range and surrounded by vineyards, Brookdale Estate enjoys a setting so picturesque the approach will stop you in your tracks. A proponent of field blend winemaking, UK serial entrepreneur Tim Rudd purchased the overgrown 67-ha farm in 2015 and set about interplanting the vineyards with cultivars new to South African terroir, and extensively renovating the manor house.

The result is splendid: Six spacious and elegant suites; a homely atmosphere but five-star standard facilities that include a pool with great views and superb dining. (chef Gary Coetzee is incidentally a specialist in conjuring up the most delicious meals for guests with special dietaries.) Rudd’s planting experiment too is bearing fruit – his winemaker Kiara Scott Farmer released the first Brookdale Sixteen Field Blend in 2021. Depending on time of year, hotel guests can pre-book a private wine tasting or time in the vineyards or cellar.

Don’t miss: Brookdale Chenin Blanc Single Vineyard


Delaire Graff Estate Lodges & Spa, Stellenbosch

Wine Lounge at sunset

In a region that has no shortage of views, the vantages from Delaire Graff – set above the Helshoogte Pass connecting Stellenbosch to Franschhoek – are literally jaw dropping. Owner Laurence Graff spared no expense in creating what is generally considered the most luxurious and exclusive Winelands hotel (Leeu Estates now a serious contender), with a price tag to match. The hotel showcases contemporary South African art with more than 400 works from Graff’s private collection, including Chinese Girl by Vladimir Tretchikoff on view outside the sumptuous tasting room.

Upgrades are ongoing: The enormous free-standing suites – each privately located, with separate lounge, stocked butler’s kitchen and doors sliding open to a heated plunge pool – were once again entirely refurbished in 2023 (re-opening 16 October). With a private cinema, top-tier spa, two superb restaurants (Indochine is a personal favourite), you’ll be hard-pressed to leave your hilltop eyrie.

Don’t miss: Laurence Graff Reserve 2018

Lanzerac, Stellenbosch

One of the oldest heritage farms in the Cape, Lanzerac is set amidst rolling vineyards in the pretty Jonkershoek valley, with walking trails leading from the vineyards into the surrounding Helderberg Mountains. With 53 well-appointed rooms and an array of meeting spaces this is more corporate in atmosphere but with deserved five-star rating for service and facilities (three dining options for different…

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