First impressions of La Residence? Sumptuous, opulent, decadent.
La Residence is the third baby in Liz Biden’s family of luxury boutique hotels, which she calls “The Royal Portfolio”. Liz is known in South Africa for her fantastic taste in interior design and La Residence is her showcase. When told that Elton John is a regular here and was the inspiration behind the Maharani suite, it all made sense. This is how I imagine his South of France villa to look… and we’ve all seen his flower bills.
It’s stunningly hot on the January afternoon when we arrive in the Franschhoek Valley, the temperature gauge hitting the high thirties. Deep blue skies and majestic mountains surround La Residence which is just off Franschhoek’s main street and in the foothills of its own vineyard. The wonderful general manager, Edward Morton, and his team are ready to greet us with champagne, flowers and cool towels as we pull up outside.
Vast crystal chandeliers hang from the high-beamed ceilings and beautiful Persian rugs line the floors. The main building is open plan and cleverly designed so in summer the cool breeze floats through and in winter the fireplaces keep it cosy. There are 11 suites, each with a different theme. We are whisked off the China Tang suite, and it doesn’t disappoint. Every tiny detail has been thought of, and I can tell a woman’s touch is here; at last a hotel where I can plug in my hairdryer in front of the mirror. Fantastic!
Within an hour, I find myself wafting around this gorgeous place fantasizing that one day wouldn’t it be nice if I could live somewhere like this. Something I’m sure every guest is thinking. There’s an infinity pool, beautiful patios and a rose garden to explore, and if you’re looking for privacy, sunbathing on your own lawn is also an option. Edward tells me it’s a full house (14 rooms) but it doesn’t feel at all busy.
One night, I invite friends to join us for dinner. Sitting quietly under the stars, eating delicious food and sipping wine, wine which we had been drinking most of the day (note: the house wines are ‘on the house’ and slip down far too easily). A memorable night indeed.
I usually like to explore a new town and Franschhoek has a lot to offer, but I only left La Residence once to have dinner at Ryan’s, which Edward told me comes recommended by chef Gary Rhodes, who had stayed at La Residence and was very impressed with this new restaurant. It was a wonderful two days and I couldn’t recommend this place enough. Expensive but exquisite, a real treat. One I won’t soon forget.