Before we’d even stepped out of the car, a uniformed man approached us. ‘Good afternoon, I’ll take your bags.’ He led us to the reception area, where we were deposited in the lavish lounge-cum-waiting area while our luggage was whisked away to some as yet unimaginable place. Peering through the window at the surrounding mountains, bubbly in hand, it was impossible not to feel content.
An hour or two later I found myself ogling a bath tub, chuckling at how even the tiniest things – like where exactly the water will spurt from when you turn on the tap – can be so pleasantly intriguing when you are in a new environment, especially a new environment which is as luxurious as the Grande Roche Hotel!
Having had the good fortune of experiencing a couple of 5 star hotels in my life, I can say with confidence that there is something undeniably fabulous about uncovering all the little details of a new hotel room. From the personalised welcome note on the table to the texture of the bed sheets and the selection of magazines, I’ve found it quite typical to be overcome with the need to try everything!
So, feeling as if we were stars of our own show, my friend and I got down to sampling all that our suite had to offer. We started sedately with a cup of tea and the most delicious chocolate-chip biscuits imaginable, with the door to our suite swung wide open to reveal the view of the vineyard outside. Our suite, as with the others, was nestled below Paarl Rock and looked out over the Grande Roche’s small vineyard and down to the town of Paarl and the mountain range beyond it.
Having disappeared into a reverie, induced by the views, I suddenly became aware of the time and hot-footed it to bathroom,which was stocked with freshly starched white dressing gowns and an array of Charlotte Rhys bath products. It was shortly after that when I learnt where the bath water actually flows from – a sleek silver fitting whence it pours like a fountain.
Obligatory bath salts perfuming the water, I sunk into it, dipping into a magazine for entertainment. Emerging a while later, I donned both the slippers and the robe and set about preparing myself for the fine-dining extravagance which was to follow.
Soon, we stepped out into the crisp air and strode to the Grande Roche’s award-winning restaurant, Bosman’s. There we were treated to canapés and bubbly and plate after plate of intricately arranged courses with dishes such as Butter Confit Kingklip Medallion and Sous Vide Springbok Loin (my personal favourite). Four courses (and their accompanying wine pairings) later, we ambled contentedly back to our little slice of heaven.
Upon our return, the under-floor heating was on and the bathroom lit up by a series of candles. In fact, brushing my teeth I realised that I have rarely been so enchanted by a bathroom. Still, knowing that there was a large soft bed bedecked in crisp white linen in the next room, I didn’t find it too hard to pull myself away.
In the morning we found ourselves in the hotel dining room once again, faced with an enticing choice of buffet breakfast options. I settled for smoked trout and scrambled eggs on a croissant, a cappuccino and a glass of orange juice.
I shunned the colourful fruit for a lack of space and refused to feel bad about my ‘unhealthy’ breakfast choices. And that is the beauty of staying at the Grande Roche Hotel. The intimate size and five star service conspire to make you feel like you’re on top of the world, and when you’re on top of the world you can get away with skipping the fruit at breakfast!
The Grande Roche Hotel, who kindly hosted us, is a boutique hotel in Paarl, a picturesque town in the Cape Winelands. The manor house is a beautifully restored Cape Dutch building with a pretty garden, a great view of Paarl and the vineyards and the striking backdrop of Paarl Rock.
The hotel offers guests 2 heated swimming pools, the fine-dining restaurant Bosman’s and the informal Bistro Allegro. Situated in the town, it is within an easy distance of the many Paarl attractions.