Akademie Street Guesthouses

Franschhoek, Cape Winelands & West Coast, South Africa Book from

Intimate, stylish and supremely comfortable guesthouse an easy stroll away from the restaurants and shops of historic Franschhoek
No visit to the winelands would be complete without an excursion to the sleepy little town of Franschhoek, which is home to some excellent examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Surrounded by some of South Africa’s oldest and most renowned wine estates, the town also contains 8 out of the country’s top 100 restaurants so it really can justify pitching itself as the gourmet capital of South Africa.

On a leafy road just a short stroll from the historical village centre, Akademie Street is right at the top of our 'must stay' list. Each of its cottages and suites feels deliciously private thanks to high hedges which wrap around their gardens and pools. And the plethora of treasured antiques, paintings and prints adds to the home-from-home feel. This is a quiet, uplifting and wholly exceptional place to stay, imbued with the generous and gentle natures of its owners, Katherine and Arthur.

Highs

  • Private cottages with their own small pools and special charm, plus 3 suites
  • An enchanting garden with an ancient oak, fruit trees, fragrant flowers and reflecting pools
  • Abundance of antiques and paintings - many of them the work of Katherine's father - make Akademie's rooms feel much more home than hotel
  • You're within easy walking distance of several first-class restaurants, and Arthur has written his own detailed guide to the town's best eateries
  • A great place to hunker down for a few days or to base yourself when exploring the winelands
  • True hospitality is evident in the small touches, which will make your stay special

Lows

  • You occasionally hear the sound of passing traffic yet this doesn't detract from the serene feel of the cottages
  • No meals other than breakfast, are served but you couldn't be better placed for your gastronomic forays
  • At busy times of year you'll need to book well in advance: award-winning Akademie is (deservedly) extremely popular

Best time to go

As is the case with the Garden Route, the winelands get most visitors during the South African spring and summer months - from October through to February. For the rest of the year the town is much quieter and the relatively mild winters mean that you should have a really great stay any time between April and September.

Our top tips

If you can afford it, book a week and use Akademie as your springboard for the Winelands, Cape Town and the western end of the Garden Route.

Great for...

Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 3 suites, 3 cottages
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Akademie has 3 guest cottages, each with its own private plunge pool surrounded by the garden's rambling hedges and trees; the feel is as intimate outside as it is within the houses themselves. There are also 3 suites: 2 in the Cape-Dutch style main house and 1 in a freestanding building adjacent to this. All have been decorated with an appealing mix of antique and contemporary furnishings.

Our favourite cottage is Gelatenheid (meaning 'equanimity'), a large 2-storey house flanked by a long sweep of veranda on each level. Inside it's based on traditional Cape Colonial style: you'd be forgiven for thinking that the buildings were much older. The downstairs kitchen-diner has comfortable sofas and leather armchairs; cut flowers, floral-printed cushions and lots of paintings add warmth and colour to its white walls, planked floors and traditional olive green sash window frames. French doors overlook its pool and private garden. The whole of the top floor is an enormous bedroom-sitting area with a sofa, a kingsize bed, a freestanding bathtub and, out on the veranda, is a second bathtub for alfresco ablutions.

The other 2 cottages receive slightly less natural light due to the thickness of the surrounding foliage but are just as charming. The smallest Vreugde ('joy'), sleeps 2 in a cosy bedroom with a kitchenette at one end and a wide veranda leading out to its small paved garden and plunge pool. Oortuiging ('conviction'), a restored cottage dating back to the 1860s, sleeps 3 and has the largest garden with a sunny lawned area and a plunge pool. It has 2 ensuite bedrooms (1 large double room and a small single room), as well as a separate kitchen, a dining area and a living room with a fireplace.

The self-contained Twyfeling Suites are at either end of the Cape Dutch-style main house. One suite has a private conservatory area with views over the water fountain towards the mountains. The other has a conservatory-style bathroom and leads out to the garden and the large pool, which these suites share with Uitsig.

Uitsig (View) is a free-standing suite. More contemporary than the cottages, it can be either a kingsize double or a twin. It has leather armchairs, a swish modern bathroom and French doors that open onto a bright balcony with mountain views.

Bathrooms throughout have beautiful fittings, piles of snow-white towels, Charlotte Rhys toiletries, hairdryers and chunky bathrobes. The rooms have WiFi, flat screen TVs, CD and DVD players (there's a collection of music and films to choose from) and phones pre-programmed with restaurant numbers.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

If you're staying in a cottage or a Twyfeling Suite, you'll need to wind your way through Akademie's beautiful gardens to get to breakfast which is served in the conservatory. Katherine is nearly always around, as well as a smiling assistant, and this is your chance to quiz her about your day's activities. Breakfast is a cold buffet followed by any variant you like of cooked breakfast, including the option of traditional boerewors sausages. The fresh fruit salad was so exquisitely presented that we felt almost loathe to disturb something so picture-perfect. Freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade muesli with local honey, and the best freshly-ground coffee really got our Franschhoek day off to a flyer.

When it comes to eating out you could wish for no better situation; the town has been known as the gastronomic capital of South Africa for a number of years. This was, in no small measure, thanks to Arthur’s own pioneering spirit: he opened the internationally acclaimed Quartier Français which became a point of reference for other aspiring restauranteers. Arthur's current top 10 includes Reuben's (top contemporary cuisine which we liked so much that we returned 2 nights in a row), Grande Provence (a particularly beautiful setting with one of the country's top young chefs) and Bread and Wine (a great place to have lunch, attached to the Moreson wine farm).

And if you prefer something simpler, or the idea of a deli takeaway, heed Arthur's recommendations which you'll find in a booklet in your cottage: nobody knows the local food scene quite as well as he does. Each of the cottages has a kitchenette with a microwave (2 also have an oven), a toaster, tea- and coffee-making equipment and a fridge stocked with complimentary drinks.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the vineyards and wine farms which surround the town, making sure not to miss Stony Brook, Graham Beck and Boekenhoutskloof (amongst Arthur's top tips)

  • Head out for dinner safe in the knowledge that you'll eat fabulous food for half of what it would cost back home

  • Saddle up a horse at Paradise Stables and ride through the local vineyards

  • Tee up at one of the 7 golf courses that are within an hour’s drive of Franschhoek

  • Drive in to Cape Town, which can be reached in an hour

  • Head over the hill to Stellenbosch for more wine-based explorations

  • The gardens are full of birds on the feeders; the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve on top of the Franschhoek pass is very popular for hikers and rich botanically, with one third of the world’s species of plants

  • Go trout fishing in the dams and rivers in the Franschhoek Valley

  • Play tennis just up the road on the municipal courts

  • There are many cycle routes nearby and hybrid, mountain and kids' bikes (as well as baby carriers) can be hired locally

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Tennis
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is really a grown-up foodie place. Teenage kids in search of some action might find the town to be a tad too quiet.

Children are accepted in Oortuiging Cottage, which has a master double room and an extra single bedroom, and is the only option for older children sharing with their parents. Cots are free and are available on request, but they can only be accommodated in Gelatenheid and Oortuiging. Both of these cottages have kitchens (with microwaves and ovens) and would be fine for immobile babies, but not for toddlers due to the unfenced pools.

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Distances:

  • Airport: 60 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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