Explorers Club

Franschhoek, Cape Winelands & West Coast, South Africa
Book from GBP Book from £127 per night

Explorers Club

Franschhoek, Cape Winelands & West Coast, South Africa

Outstanding collection of affordable rental properties with adventurous décor in picturesque Franschhoek: perfect for foodies, explorers and families

Outstanding collection of affordable rental properties with adventurous décor in picturesque Franschhoek: perfect for foodies, explorers and families

While the name might suggest a place to rough it and plan routes on dusty maps by candlelight, Explorer's Club is something else: somewhere to plot your next trip, sure, but in the comfort of a homestead with views of the mountains and vineyards and easy access to world-class restaurants, wineries, boutiques and art galleries. And more than that, the properties have style by the tin bucket load.

What we particularly love about them is co-owner Jo's eye for detail. An inveterate explorer himself, he's decorated the houses with large scale world maps, posters of Clint Eastwood, lampshades made from recycled coffee sacks, throws made from Kenyan kikoys and milk urns used as bedside tables. It's quirky, unusual, fresh and like nothing we've seen before - a bit like its owner.

With regular farmers markets, vineyard delis and supermarkets nearby, it’s a doddle to stock up for eating in. But with such brilliant restaurants on your doorstep you’ll also want to venture out. So here you get to have your cake and eat it.


  • The location: in the heart of charming Franschhoek, easy walking distance from its exceptional restaurants, with lovely mountain and vineyard views and no traffic noise
  • Franschhoek has dozens of frilly French-style places to stay; these imaginatively-designed pads make a refreshing alternative
  • Jo is great fun: charismatic, enthusiastic and inspirational
  • The properties are an affordable option with sensible all year pricing and discounts for smaller groups
  • Less than an hour's drive from Cape Town


  • Power outages in South Africa have become the norm - some of the lamps are rechargeable but without backup generators you may need to light the candles (ask about the app which gives you precise timings)
  • Not all rooms have air-conditioning, although there are large colonial-style ceiling fans
  • The layout of some of the houses is a little odd and disjointed (living areas upstairs, bedrooms downstairs or in annexes) but their quirkiness is part of the fun
  • Kids policies vary between houses - most welcome all ages, one is best suited for ages 12+

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

Try to plan your lunches and dinners in advance of your trip - many restaurants get booked up weeks ahead.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Boutique villas
  • 6 houses for 2-10
  • Self-Catering
  • All ages welcome; some rooms are better suited for over 12s
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Alarm/security
  • Daily maid service on request at additional cost


You would expect an explorer to furnish his house with items from his travels, but Jo Sinfield’s adventurous take on design goes a step further. We really liked the décor of the cottages: the safari khakis mix with creams and bright reds, the bright kikoys zing, and coffee sacks are recycled as unusual lampshades. It’s quirky and unusual and really works.

All have comfortable sleeping quarters and huge living-kitchen-dining rooms that maximise the views of the mountains and vineyards. Set in the heart of Franschhoek village, all are on quiet residential roads and an easy 5-minute walk to the main street where you'll find some of South Africa's best restaurants.

Explorer's Club (sleeps up to 6 adults + 4 children). All ages welcome
The largest property, Explorer’s Club has an understated bush camp style. It has a vast open-plan kitchen-living space with large sink-in sofas and a wall of folding doors on to the sun deck, garden and a solar-heated lap pool. It feels more like staying at a friend’s house than a hotel, and this is reflected in the price.

Three of the four bedrooms are on the ground-floor. The master bedroom has a terrace, walk-through dressing room and ensuite with slipper bathtub and shower. The second smaller double bedroom has a shower room. The third bedroom comes with bunk beds for 3 children and an ensuite. Up some narrow stairs (not ideal for the less mobile), in the attic, the fourth bedroom room has a freestanding bathtub with glorious views.

The Library (sleeps up to 6 adults). For over 12s only
Next to Explorer’s Club, The Library has a polished, boutique style.
The wonderful first-floor open-plan living space has a double-height ceiling and is accessed via a spiral staircase. The 3 double bedrooms are spread between the ground floor and a separate pavilion beside the private pool.

Tugela (sleeps 2-6). All ages welcome
Round the corner from the Explorers club, Tugela is a family holiday home now fully interior designed to make the very best of indoor-outdoor living. With rooms blending exotic wildlife prints, colourful furnishings, textured wallpaper beneath open beam ceilings, it creates a fresh, grown-up homely feel which we loved. It all opens out onto a beautiful garden, swimming pool and pool house with views to the mountains surrounding Franschhoek. 3 ensuite bedrooms (2 double, 1 twin) and extremely well equipped kitchen (with pizza oven and bbq outside) make for comfortable living. For larger groups the property can also interconnect through the garden with Tockies Cottage.

Tockies Cottage (sleeps 2-4). All ages welcome
We’re yet to visit this chic 2-bedroom cottage, but the classic styling and airy living spaces look very welcoming indeed. There’s a double, a twin, a large open-plan kitchen and living space, plus a walled garden with pool - a true home-from-home.

Cook's Cottage (sleeps up to 4-6). All ages welcome
This cosy relaxed self-catering cottage sleeps up to 4 adults in 2 double bedrooms, with 2 children in a bunk room, making it ideal for families or a small group of friends. A covered veranda with outdoor eating and barbeque (braai) area leads out to a shady side garden, as well as a private, courtyard garden to the front, with a small plunge pool and views to the mountains. Inside, there's a well-equipped open-plan kitchen-living room and upstairs a cosy nook for watching films.

The Cockpit (sleeps 2)
We've also not seen this cosy 1-bedroom cottage, which comes with a cute courtyard garden with a pergola and a private plunge pool.

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron
  • Tumble dryer
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi


Food in South Africa's historic gourmet capital isn't just world class, it's fantastic value too, but if you want to eat in, all of the properties have fully equipped kitchens for self-catering and entertaining.

The dining tables in all of the houses seat 6-10, so you can invite friends over. All the basics are provided (olive oil, vinegar, coffee, tea and milk), there are a couple of good supermarkets in town and groceries and braai packs can be ordered in advance. Catering can also be arranged. We also recommend Franschhoek's small Saturday morning farmer's market and the Stellenbosch Fresh Foods Market (Saturdays 9am - 2pm) with its freshly-made salads, bread, cakes, artisan cheeses and organic meat, fruit and vegetables.

When it comes to eating out, you're spoilt for choice. Just some of our many lunch recommendations are riverside picnics at Holdenmanz Wine Estate (pre-ordered hampers come with a chilled bottle of their award winning wine, rug and cushions), Babylonstoren's chic organic restaurant, greenhouse cafe and veg gardens; Glenwood for gourmet sushi in a lovely hidden valley setting, Ruste En Vrede for fine winetasting followed by a Winemakers lunch - the best steak alfresco; Tokara's DeliCATessen and La Motte Artisanal Bakery & Garden Café are both delightful for family friendly brunches and lunches.

For dinner, Epice and Protégé on the main street and Chef's Warehouse at Maison just outside the village, serve delectable globe-trotting tasting menus and sharing plates. For fine dining La Petite Colombe is one of South Africa's top spots. We also love Boschendal's buzzing Friday Night Market where you can expect live music, fresh farm produce and artisan food stalls.

Features include:

  • Barbecue
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Kids' meals
  • Meal delivery service
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster


  • Browse the boutiques and galleries along Franschhoek's charming main street
  • Taste some of South Africa's finest wines. You're surrounded by dozens of top wineries and Stellenbosch is within half an hour. Hop on and off Franschhoek's famous Wine Tram. Favourites include Stony Brook, Boekenhoutskloof, Chamonix, La Motte, Boschendal and Babylonstoren.
  • Head out for lunch or dinner safe in the knowledge that you'll eat fabulous food for half of what it would cost back home (see eating for our recommendations)
  • Hire a bike (there's a shop in the village) and head for the hills: the cycling round Franschhoek can be as strenuous as you choose to make it. There are many cycle routes nearby and hybrid, mountain and kids' bikes (as well as baby carriers) can be hired locally. It’s also a great way to see the vineyards
  • Listen to your inner chocaholic and visit either the Huguenot Chocolate factory or De Villiers Chocolate at the Spice Route estate for tastings
  • Saddle up a horse at Paradise Stables and ride through the local vineyards
  • Go trout fishing in the dams and rivers in the Franschhoek Valley or swim or fish in the Berg river that flows through the valley
  • Play tennis just up the road on the municipal courts
  • Shoot a round of golf at the Paarl Valley, Boschenmeer or Stellenbosch courses. There are 7 golf courses within an hour’s drive of Franschhoek
  • See the Franschhoek Valley from the air with a thrilling paragliding flight or in a hot-air balloon
  • For car lovers the Franschhoek Motor Museum is a must see. Even if your not a petrolhead, this stunning vintage collection is worth a visit
  • Head into Cape Town for the day: it takes less than an hour to reach it from Franschhoek
  • Sightseeing in historic Stellenbosch, with its Cape Dutch architecture, wonderful museum and vineyards
  • Explore nearby Paarl, with its panoramic hilltop monument and its riverside arboretum
  • The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve on top of the Franschhoek pass is very popular for hikers and has a staggering third of the world’s species of plants.

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Wine tasting


Although restrictions apply to some houses, overall Explorers Club is a great place for kids. Jo can arrange babysitting and provide plenty of information on request for family-friendly activities around Franschhoek; we found that the winery trips worked fine with our 4-year-old daughter in tow.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Explorer's Club, Cook's Cottage, Tugela and Tockie's Cottage are best for families, as they welcome kids of all ages. Explorer's Club has a bunk bedded room for 3 kids and space for a baby cot in the dressing room (connected to the master bedroom). Cook's Cottage has a bunk room for 2, Tockies has 2 ensuite bedrooms (1 double and 1 twin) and Tugela has 3 ensuite bedrooms (2 doubles and 1 twin)
The Library only accepts children over 12 and its accommodation is split between the main house and a pool house/annex, which could work well for teens.

Cots Available, Family Rooms


Babysitting or a nanny available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • High chair

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

Children's meals:

All houses are self-catering with large, airy kitchens, barbecues and large eating areas. It's a very easy walk to Franschhoek's famous restaurants. Pizza evenings at Babylonstoren, the early Friday evening market at Boschendal, sushi at Glenwood and vineyard picnics are all good options for families.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Unfenced pool at Explorer's Club, Tockie's Cottage, Tugela and The Library
  • TVs and children's DVDs
  • Fantastic info packs on what to see, eat and do

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Bikes to hire for vineyard exploration
  • Tennis courts (bring your own racquets)
  • Riding Stables
  • River swimming
  • Chocolate factory nearby
  • Franschhoek Motor Museum

Families Should Know:

  • The pools aren't fenced
  • There's a chemist and supermarket around the corner for nappies and baby food


  • Airport: 45 minutes
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:


It takes about an hour to get from Cape Town to Explorers Club, which is in the culinary capital of South Africa - Franschhoek - in the Cape Winelands.

By Air
Fly into Cape Town International (70km). Click on the links below for a list of airlines.

From the Airport
It's a 45-minute drive from the airport. Airport transfers can be arranged (from R500 one way)

By Car
Most guests will self-drive to get here; see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to South Africa and getting around.


  • Cape Town International 70.0 km CPT


  • Beach 50.0 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests


{{ review.rating }}/10, ,

Rates for Explorers Club

Arriving on: