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Positioned in the historical Constantia Valley (one of the oldest areas in Cape Town) between Hout Bay and Rondebosch lies The Cellars-Hohenort (meaning high place). It is a proudly Liz McGrath collection member, Small Luxury Hotel of the World and Cape Town icon.
This legendary estate has hosted several heads of state, celebrities, and famous and infamous characters since 1652.
Guests are spoiled for choice with a selection of 51 guest rooms comprising of The Madiba Villa (named after South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela), The Liz McGrath Villa (named after the former owner of the estate), several premier suites, suites, luxury double rooms with verandas and double rooms.
The rooms have splendid views over the hotel’s nine-acre award-winning gardens, including a vineyard with 950 vines.
Their world-class amenities and services include two swimming pools and a state-of-the-art fitness studio. There is a well-appointed Fresh wellness spa and a boutique with splendid collections of the most sought-after items.
To top it all off, there is an opulent hair salon, tennis courts and rental bicycles. The hotel also offers pet-friendly accommodations.
The Cellar-Hohenort is undoubtedly one of the finest and most glamorous properties in South Africa we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.
In this review, Petra and I will share our experiences of visiting The Cellar-Hohenort. We also share with you our reasons why this hotel is regarded as one of the finest hotels in South Africa.
It is not surprising that The Cellars-Hohenort finds itself in the 10th position in South Africa and the 15th in Africa for the best hotel, as voted by the Condé Nast Traveler readers.
In addition, the hotel won the continent category “Luxury Country Hotel” in 2020 as awarded by the World Luxury Hotel group. The list goes on and on…the hotel also won several other award categories as conferred by the Haute Grandeur Global Awards.
Few hotels in South Africa can boast a setting like The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia with its nine acres of manicured gardens which is any horticulturist’s dream.
The gardens consist of a rose and herb garden, a vegetable and citrus tree garden, a vineyard, water features and ponds, and trees in the forest dating back 300 years.
Guests are invited to enjoy a prepared picnic basket on the hotel’s lawns.
The main building (known as The Cellars) – houses the reception, several rooms and The Conservatory restaurant (with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows).
The Martini bar is not your usual cocktail bar; with a splash of pink and modern sophistication, it is the best place to make yourself comfortable during winter or summer.
The day we visited the estate, it was pouring rain, and a welcoming fire was cracking away to lighten the mood.
The property extends into the Hohenort building, which houses the Greenhouse restaurant and bar (where the best high-tea in the Cape Town area can be enjoyed) and conference venues.
The hotel’s storied past dates back to 1652 when the area served as a refreshment point for the Dutch East India Company, whose ships traversed the oceans to gather spices from Cape Town.
Centuries and various owners later, the construction of the German-style Hohenort building began with the new owner Arnold Spilhaus.
In 1910, the Kaasebosch wine cellar (where the main Cellars building is today) was opened. The passing of Mr Spilhaus in 1947 initiated a new area for the farm as it was subdivided into sections and sold to several new owners. The formidable Liz McGrath then purchased the Cellars building in 1991. The rest is what we call ‘history’.
The hotel’s 51 guest rooms are spread over the entire estate.
At the end of May 2022, Tahir de Vries took us on a tour of the estate and proudly showed us some of their unique villas, suites, standard hotel rooms and distinct facilities.
Although this glamorous hotel is known for hosting the rich, celebrities, and distinguished guests, it is also well suited for anyone who enjoys the finer things in life (and can afford it).
This hotel is ideal for more mature guests who enjoy sipping champagne in grand rooms with lavish interiors while reminiscing on a bygone era.
It is also ideal for guests looking to have a relaxed countryside holiday while being within easy reach of world-class wine farms, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and many of Cape Town’s best beaches, such as Clifton and Bantry Bay.
Couples will enjoy the romantic setting, and the unprecedented attention to detail management provides. The staff and concierge desk is not only committed to service excellence but is also known for paying particular attention to every guest’s needs during their stay.
The most impressive rooms of the hotel are the Madiba villa and the Liz McGrath villa.
We were taken on a tour of the Liz McGrath villa, a self-contained apartment adjacent to the fragrant herb garden. The villa features two spacious (upstairs) guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and a lavish lounge with a fireplace (downstairs). For extended families, the villa can be developed by a premier room next door (which shares the same private foyer).
The interior design of the generous-sized premier suites, double luxury rooms and double rooms is French Country style, a sophisticated blend of shabby chic and farmhouse with a touch of Hollywood Glam. The rooms’ designs were inspired by Liz McGrath’s love for neutral and earthy tones with splashes of pink (in the Martini bar and lounge) and the signature blue, pastel green and pink that is evident in most of the McGrath collection hotels.
As noted earlier, The Cellar-Hohenort in Constantia is conveniently situated on the Constantia wine route and within 15 km of the Cape Town’s city centre (Victoria & Alfred Waterfront), 8,7 km of Hout Bay, 22 km of the Cape Town International Airport and 36 km of the famous Boulder’s beach in Simon’s Town (to interact with the penguins).
The hotel has two salt-chlorinated pools set in the magnificent gardens of the hotel with many sun loungers.
The Hohenort pool is located adjacent to the Hohenort building, which overlooks the hotel’s vineyard, while the smaller walled-in Cellars pool is set in a secluded part of the hotel’s grounds near the main Cellars building.
There is a well-equipped fitness centre next to the Hohenort pool for fitness-conscious guests.
Although we have not used any of the spa’s services, it comes highly recommended due to its many signature treatments and highly qualified staff.
The boutique stocks everything for the discerning traveller, from designer clothing to essential holiday items. And what is typically Bernie’s most significant concern after a fabulous holiday, “being overweight upon check-in,” is taken care of at The Cellars. All items can be shipped anywhere in the world after purchase.
For those concerned about who will take care of their fur friends while on holiday, this will be the last of their worries at The Cellars-Hohenort. The hotel offers unique pet-friendly accommodation that caters to your every need and that of your pets.
While the list of facilities is never exhaustive at The Cellars-Hohenort, you can also participate in tennis, cycling, and other lawn activities.
As you exit the hotel gates, you realise you’re in the heart of Cape Town’s world-famous wine-producing estates, with Groot Constantia (the oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa) within 4.5 km of the hotel.
The hotel is surrounded by billionaire mansions and nestled beneath the Table Mountain National Park.
The Constantia valley is known for heritage sites and landscapes of unsurpassed beauty.
Constantia is a top attraction for tourists to South Africa who visits the area to enjoy the wine route, gourmet food, and unprecedented nature (fynbos experience, Constantia Green Belts, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Silvermine Nature Reserve) and pristine scenery.
The hotel is a short drive from Cape Town International Airport 22 km (less than a half hour’s drive). Reputable taxi service from the airport to the hotel will cost around R300 or 17.50€.
This hotel is part of the Luxury Small Hotels of the World, located in one of the most affluent parts of South Africa. During July, a Luxury Double Room (46m2) with Verandah with valley views is available for R4500 per night. This offer includes breakfast for two adults, a complimentary minibar, bottled water and turndown service.
Compared to a luxury double room at The Marine (the sister hotel), which offers a sea view room in July for R5962, The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia provides better value for money on a room-for-room basis (although one must consider that The Marine is located near the ocean in Hermanus).
The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia is an all-year destination as they offer a great variety of activities to accommodate the weather.
However, if you need sunny weather and crowd-free experiences, the best time to visit the Constantia area is from September through to March (although December can get very crowded).
The review is intended to assist you in planning a trip to The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia near Cape Town.
The hotel’s best features are its location, nine acres of landscaped gardens, world-class villas, and suites.
We can happily recommend booking a Luxury Double room with a veranda with most of the “bells and whistles” of the more luxurious and pricier suites.
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