National monuments doubling up as luxurious hotels are few and far between in South Africa. Our very own Stellenbosch has one of these in the form of Coopmanhuijs, a five-star boutique hotel in a beautiful part of the historical town.
Dating back to 1713, when it functioned as a grand residence, the historical charm of the building was restored after it received a considerable renovation over the course of three years from 2010 to 2013. The theme is now neo-Georgian from the late 19th century, and the rich, wood-filled interior is nothing if not cosy.
The rooms are modern in a subtly clever way, preserving that old world charm while introducing the touches you would expect at a five-star hotel, including underfloor heating and room temperature control (which really helped a lot – it was freezing that night). As per my usual routine when writing accommodation reviews, I am swayed by very comfortable beds. This test was passed sufficiently.
Judging by the glowing online reviews, Helena’s Restaurant had high expectations to live up to – which it certainly did. We were blown away by every facet of Coopmanhuijs’ restaurant from the menu and presentation of its ‘heritage meals’, through to the staff’s attentive service and classy ambience.
Appetizers like the potato gnocchi with prawns and oranges, along with the biltong salad with fresh and spiced grapes, red onion and avocado, were delicious. Helena’s treated us to mains in the form of a Chalmar beef fillet on potato dauphinoise and béarnaise sauce with braised leeks, onions and parmesan cheese, and poached line fish of the day with prawn aioli with Jansson’s Temptation – a pea and fresh origanum purée served with sugar snaps. Both were actually incredible.
Being positioned on picturesque Church Street does nothing but favours for Coopmanhuijs. It kind of feels like stepping into a quaint European town, complete with street cafes, art galleries and historical buildings. But I guess that this forms part of the general appeal of Stellenbosch – it feels clean and safe.
I’d recommend Coopmanhuijs for both international travellers and locals – not only for its unique factor but also because Stellenbosch makes for a great central location from which to explore the Winelands.
Photography Bev Klein