Majeka House & Spa – An Award-winning Boutique Bolthole in the Beautiful Cape Winelands
June 20, 2018
Tucked away in the chic neighbourhood of Paradyskloof and just moments away from the historic town of Stellenbosch, you can find Majeka House – a 5-star boutique hotel that deserves all the praise it receives, and more.
Owned by the French Dequeker family and voted Best Design Hotel Conde Nast Johannsens 2017, Majeka House offers guests warm country house hospitality, cutting-edge interior design courtesy of Etienne Hanekom, an award-winning restaurant, beautiful gardens, a grand piano, a well-stocked library of books, a sumptuous spa and a wealth of lavish amenities. The downside? It’s one of those places where you find yourself checking in and already trying to make a plan for how you can stay longer!
Within the Mediterranean style walls resides perfectly manicured gardens and terraces populated with cobalt blue sofas, chairs and tables. The property offers 23 stunningly chic rooms to choose from and we were fortunate to call a Poolside Choice room our temporary home.
The room was exquisitely designed with plush, bold décor, unique artwork, custom furniture that was so divine it had us Googling where we could buy it, one of the largest beds we have ever slept in, a deep bath as well as a walk-in shower, an espresso machine and an epic African mural suspended from the ceiling above the bed which accentuated the artistic flair of the hotel but also made the room feel cosy. The room had an impressive array of home comforts, including heavenly aromatherapy lotions and potions, the softest bathrobes, a Bose speaker, a local map, jogging route, home baked goodies and an Honesty Bar but the semi-private pool was the pièce de résistance!
We spent our days basking on the garden loungers, popping in and out of the heated pool and hot tub, which has a handy electric roof for changing climates. For those in need of extra support when it comes to relaxing, there is a fully functioning spa with an impressive array of beauty and massage treatments. There is also a cute on-site gym, which was a welcome and much needed surprise given the quality of food and drink served at the hotel.
Cue Makaron, Majeka House’s award-winning restaurant, where chef Lucas Carstens cooks up insanely delicious and innovative dishes for hotel guests and visitors, but the M Bar is the perfect warm-up and now also serves light lunches, all in keeping with Chef Lucas’s signature panache.
Makaron is their go at cracking the fine dining scene in Stellenbosch (previously nominated in the Top 10 Restaurants in South Africa – EATOUT). Set inside the hotel, the setting is comfortable and informal with the artistic efforts carried throughout. The service was impressive from the get go and there were enough staff so the service was efficient yet personal, in fact we got to know our waiter very well by the end. If you’re lucky, you might also have a surprise guest join you for dinner – ours was in the form of a quirky animal sculpture.
We were given the option to pick three, four or five plates from the whole menu, although from any part of the menu and in any order. Passing some of this control over to its diners means they take some of the large wine choice out of your hands; each has a suggested pairing with wine from their large by-the-glass menu. Both the food and wine menu was diverse, and for wine it seemed a shame to do anything but try the pairings. The servings were very generous for a paired menu – often what seemed like half a bottle to wash down your food! This approach also has the benefit that you can often have two or three glasses next to each other to compare with the current or next dish, adding to the sensory elements of dining.
Compliments from the kitchen came with what were memorable, delicate and exquisite bites. Caesar taco with crispy chicken skin, ‘Truffle & Beetroot’ and a ‘Trout cracker’ was a perfect start to the inventive and quirky menu. They had also thought through the ever more demanding dietary requirements of diners, with gluten-free options including fresh homemade breads and crackers, accompanied with an African slant of Bokkom butter (clarified butter lightly infused with dried fish). Lighter wines of (dry) Riesling and Viognier which came to the table were delicious.
Kale, broccoli, miso and seaweed did not arrive in the predictable soup form. It was akin to a healthy green sandwich packed full of flavour – the dried kale providing the bread. Next to a baby marrow (African courgette) risotto, raw mushroom and cured egg yolk shavings, the two continued to delight. Both were outstanding, inventive and amazingly executed. Wines poured were well matched, a rich-buttery chardonnay from Journey’s End vineyards and the Italian varietal, Verdelho made by Thelema.
Picking on some of the meals most memorable points; the highlight of the meal was a prawn confit, curry, smoked snails shavings with coconut. The textures and layers to this dish were delicate and moreish, yet satisfying. South African Merlot and Pinotage, and a top Cabernet – restaurants increasingly more often scrimp on the paired wine, however, Makaron added more dining experience with their diverse choice of quality wine that did not disappoint.
There were two dishes they dropped the near perfect score on; the Springbok dish was overcooked (away from its great presentation) and one scallop ceviche lost its edge, overpowered by cream. Shame, as it would have been that perfection food lovers crave.
It came across that the chef had put heart and soul into the design of the menu to give a real differentiator from the usual fine dining you come across. Mouth-watering, elegant, innovative, playful and well executed are the words we’ll choose to sum it up. Memorable as it is, and with a few fine tunings this could easily be the food destination of Stellenbosch and the Winelands. No view required.
Luckily, it wasn’t too long until we returned to sample more delights from the kitchen. This time it was for the complimentary breakfast and this did not disappoint! There was a huge selection of goodies displayed on the long table; cereals with seeds & nuts, fresh fruit, smoked salmon in jars, homemade jams, a large selection of breads, homemade yoghurts – not to mention the extensive hot items available on offer.
If you are visiting Cape Town and seeking a place to indulge and escape the hustle and bustle, make sure you visit this stellar property. The service we received was flawless, in fact the most attentive we experienced during our two week trip. From the very moment we checked in, which was hours before the regular check in time, the staff made us feel extremely welcome. The waiters know exactly when you are thirsty or considering a bite to eat – almost as if they are mind readers.
The whole experience? Delightfully charming. Majeka’s rooms starts at R1990 per person sharing.
Written by Luxuria Lifestyle UK’s Lara Buckle