I stumbled on to Boschendal a couple of weeks a go on Instagram. Someone I follow had re posted something from someone they follow and hey presto! “wow, where is that? I thought, looks super rad” turns out it was Boschendal.
Now, I had known about Boschendal wines of course, it’s been around since 1685 making it one of South Africa’s oldest farms, but I had never heard of anyone staying there, or even going out to lunch (For my international readers, lunching on wine farms is what we do on weekends in Cape Town).
The reason I discovered is that Boschendal has only just launched their accommodation at the end of last year and just recently opened a deli and restaurant. Elzaan and I are always on the look out for well priced escapes that are close to town , we also love to cook, se generally prefer self catering, Boschendal had all 3, so we took advantage of the long weekend and booked ourselves in. As is most of the wine region you are just surrounded by mountains, it’s a little overwhelming at times and you end up not knowing what view you should be awed by, so it’s best to rotate regularly.
We stayed in the orchard cottages situated about 2km’s away from the main farm, these cottages were the original labourers houses that have been converted into perfect little homes away from home complete with a braai (BBQ) area and stoep (porch). No detail has been spared, and I mean NONE! Every little thing goes perfectly with everything else, from the throw pillow on the couch to the blinds in the kitchen, it has a perfectly modern country chic feeling about it. They also haven’t cheaped out on anything, the pots and kettle on the stove are al Le Creuset, as are the ceramic dishes, there’s a nice little LCD TV up against the wall with a fair amount of satellite channels and free wi-fi that actually works and is reasonably fast. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed.
The disappointment unfortunately came in the details of our stay a little further on, once we eventually got settled in.
We arrived on the same day they were hosting the Red Bull wings for life run, now to be fair, they had warned us about road closures, but we were unaware that the race would end at Boschendal and that they would be hosting the “after party” . We arrived early in the hopes of checking in and leaving before the road closures but our rooms weren’t ready, and they suggested we came back at 5 when the race was over, so we left our bags and perishables with them and hit Stellenbosch about 25min away.
The accommodation as described above, is beautiful, I mean the pictures tell that story I hope, but unfortunately there were a few things that left us thinking “well, that wasn’t very well thought through”. Here they are.
Firstly, I wouldn’t call the cottages self catering, they’re more semi-self catering. There is only 2 of everything, literally 2 knifes, 2 forks, 2 plates etc. I guess that seems normal for a place that accommodates 2, but of course not ideal in real life when you’re preparing food. Now of course I don’t expect that they have a food processor and sous vide machine on hand, but I’m on mini vacation, I don’t want to have to wash up everything immediately just so I can use it again.
One of the things we were most looking forward to was the fireplace, both inside the accommodation and outside for cooking, and although they supply you with two baskets filled with wood, it’s not very practically thought out to actually make a fire. The wood is all in massive logs, making starting a fire difficult without tinder to get it going, it also makes it impossible to braai as the logs are too big and take too long to burn out into charcoal. On top of this they provide no fire making tools, so no pokers or tongs to turn logs and keep that fire going. It’s a small thing, but annoying at the time.
We were unfortunately also riddled with bad luck. When we set out to have a shower on monday morning before heading out for a meeting we realised we had no hot water, we called reception (you need to use your own phone as there are no phones in the room) who said that they would send maintenance over. We took an ice cold shower and left for the day – not ideal on a chilly autumn morning. When we got back that evening we seemed to have hot water again, but no one had called to report back on the problem.
The next morning, same thing, well, first no electricity before I left for a morning run, followed by no hot water again. At this point the housekeeping manager let us use another unit to shower and bath. Ahhhh….warm and clean! We were also granted a late checkout so we decided to lie around on the couch for a while and head down to the restaurant for a late lunch before we left. The restaurant was closed so we grabbed a bite and a glass of Boschendal wine at the deli. We decided to start with a butternut and bacon soup which was outstanding and follow it up with a duck risotto and gnocchi with spicy beef sausage and pulled short rib, neither of which left much of an impression. The setting, of course, was beautiful.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I know stuff goes wrong, it’s life and it happens. When it happens to me at home, I take it on the chin, but when I’m paying to have an experience better than the one I have at home, I kinda feel cheated when it isn’t.
In saying that, I’ll still recommend the place,maybe we just had some bad luck the cottages are great and if there is a group of you, you can pretty much take over the whole place. I’m sure things like hot water, are just teething issues and in time they will iron out all the details like cutlery, fire places etc. They are new and possibly still trying to find their feet. I’ll definitely like to try the other bigger, fancier cottages at a later stage with some friends and maybe even come back to try the werf restaurant. If you have been or are planning on going, please levae me a comment, I would love to hear about your experience.
Okay. Stay fancy.