Stellenbosch is a beautiful town that is famed for its rich history and wine. There are a number of hotels in the town, but a standout one for me is Oude Werf, located on scenic Church Street.
The site where Oude Werf now stands was once a church, one of the original structures in Stellenbosch dating back to 1686. A fierce fire, fanned by a south easter, burnt the church to the ground in 1710 and the plot remained unused until 1802 – the year Oude Werf Country Inn was opened. Despite two fires later, one in 1803 and another in the 1890’s, it is South Africa’s oldest and most historic hotel.
Evidence of the hotel plot’s history is visible down a stairway leading below the restaurant’s kitchen, where Oude Werf general manager John showed us the original cobblestone foundation – complete with an unused brick coffin. There are remnants throughout Oude Werf going back centuries, I found that the hotel has successfully managed to strike a fine balance between being modern and living up to its five-star reputation while retaining its historical charm. Original doors, restored rooms and even part of the original ceiling damaged by the fire remain preserved with the utmost care by the team.
The modern aspect is prevalent throughout Oude Werf, but especially in the newly-renovated wing where our suite was. Spending a night in it was a dream – the suite looked stunning. Soft, backlit lighting on an industrial brick wall complete with an uber comfortable bed and a very stylish bathroom all made for a great overnight stay.
Oude Werf’s restaurant is a great dining option in the town of Stellenbosch. That night we dined on delicious Chimichurri steaks and paired it with a bottle of Paradyskloof pinot noir. Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, the restaurant complements the modern style of the hotel perfectly and you can find hearty South African items on the menu such as Cape Malay bobotie, venison shank, braised oxtail and tomato bredie. The pork belly, truffle risotto, and slow cooked duck leg items cater for the finer palettes.
A Stellenbosch landmark that has stood the test of time. For locals, Oude Werf makes for a superb stopover and base for exploring the Winelands, while for international visitors it is the perfect slice of South Africa history complete with the modern touches you would expect from a five-star hotel.
Photography Bev Klein