Lanzerac: The jewel of Stellenbosch is back and better than ever

3 Jul

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lanzerac is an iconic landmark in Stellenbosch. David Rawdon was the first hotelier to convert the historical homestead and outbuildings – first established in 1692 – into a hotel in 1959. Today the property represents a multi-faceted destination that includes a luxurious five star hotel with conference and event facilities, winery, deli, bar, multiple restaurants (including the Manor Kitchen), tasting room and day spa.

After a devastating fire in the early hours of 28 May 2017 that severely damaged the main operational areas of the hotel, extensive renovations have been going on for the past year, closing the hotel for guests until the grand reopening on the 1st July 2018.  I was extremely fortunate to be one of the first guests to visit Lanzerac this past weekend for a taste of their many premium offerings, including lunch at the deli, wine tasting, dinner at the brand new restaurant, staying over in a newly renovated room and enjoying a treatment and the hydro facilities at their world class spa.

For someone like me who grew up around the corner from Lanzerac, this grande dame of Stellenbosch has played a landmark role in my life and in the lives of so many others. Ask around – you’ll hear stories of Lanzerac’s hey-days as a prime student hang-out spot in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Do you remember their fabulous restaurant Vinkel and Koljander? That place was my first experience as a waiter in 1995 – situated in the building that now houses the tasting room and deli. I also remember how we visited the terrace area as youngsters, ordering our first legal drinks and feeling super fancy. I learned to love wine with Lanzerac’s iconic pinotage rosé – then still in their famous round bellied bottles.

The terrible fire has been a catalyst for the birth of a brand new era for Lanzerac. Out of tragedy, a world class hospitality facility has risen better and bolder than ever before. The hotel’s main operational areas has been transformed sporting a much more contemporary and airy feel with higher ceilings and open plan spaces, featuring a lot of glass and marble alongside the original historical wood and stone. Bold, eclectic, vintage & antique furniture pieces add to the magic of the new Lanzerac, including a massive antique bar display cupboard and some of the fire damaged re-framed artworks in the bar area. The renovation is an ongoing process, with plans for the manor house still to be executed and a large chef’s table room situated in the old Danie Craven Lounge still to be furnished. Go take a look – the old-world historical feel of Lanzerac is still strongly present, but the renovations provide an unmistakable modern atmosphere filled with light and positive space.

Hotel and spa guests can make use of the spa’s hydro facilites that include the heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and mist area. Multiple world class treatment options are available with state of the art equipment. I enjoyed a 60 minute full body massage with therapist Antoinette and it was a welcome relaxing pamper that left me walking on a cloud for the rest of the day. The spa facilities are breathtaking and highly recommended.

The deli and tasting room are two of the most accessible areas of Lanzerac in terms of affordability for the public – have a taste of their premium wines and enjoy a delicious breakfast or lunch.

Staying at the hotel is the epitome of luxury and no detail has been spared to ensure the ultimate five star winelands getaway. We were welcomed to our room with salty treats from the deli (beef biltong, honey spiced nuts and infused olives) as well as a plate of sweet treats from the kitchen (petit fours, macarons and chocolate dipped strawberries). Complimentary mini bars are stocked daily – yes, complimentary. Bathrooms have underfloor heating and heated towel rails – so comforting during winter especially. The upholstered bathroom bench was one of the best traits of our huge bathroom, and I now need one in my life!

Our dinner at the brand new Manor Kitchen headed by Chef Stephen Frazer was a great reflection of what the new Lanzerac stands for: contemporary twists on classic dishes – inventive, beautifully plated and a pleasure to eat. The highlight of my dinner was the perfectly crafted raspberry soufflé – I’ll go back for more soon, so I hope they keep it on the menu for a while!

Take a look at some of the photographs of our stay. I’ve chosen 50 photographs, making this my most comprehensive featured post ever (I could have easily chosen 50 more). Lanzerac is a fabulous getaway during winter with many cosy fire places and warm indoor air-conditioning. Sitting in the hot jaccuzi with a glass of bubbly while the rain was pouring down outside was an absolute highlight! What a pleasure.

Catch the special Winter Retreat Package: Enjoy a one night stay for two in a King or Twin room, with select mini-bar, including an English breakfast, lunch at the Lanzerac Deli, a premium tasting, 60 minute full body massage, use of the hydro facilities and complimentary shuttle services to and from Stellenbosch town for R6500 per couple. Available until 30 September 2018 – see full info below.

 

I took a tour of the grounds and hotel facilities:

The reception entrance to Lanzerac Hotel. The new reception area is situated directly on the left after entering the existing hotel building.

The massive flower arrangement at reception.

The large, open, vaulted new entrance hall and lounge area at Lanzerac Hotel.

The new Taphuis bar area at Lanzerac – this photo was taken when they were still unpacking stock, therefor the boxes on the counter! (View the Taphuis small plates menu here.)

The new Craven Lounge & Bar – perfect for a pre-dinner or a post-dinner drink and tapas. (View the menu here. )

Leather couches at the Craven Lounge.

One of the new conference rooms at Lanzerac. This room has a glass ceiling and is fully cladded in wood.

Another conference room at Lanzerac with a cathedral-like feel.

The upper pool bar is currently not in use during winter. I’ve never seen it before, so this was a great find!

The magnificent mountain view and stretching lawn at Lanzerac.

The old Danie Craven Lounge is one of the areas that are still in the process of begin renovated – you can still see the fire damage at the top window that is being restored.

 

We stayed in a suite that included a lounge area with private pool:

The pathway leading to our room. Winter in Stellenbosch.

This is Elvis who showed us to our room.

Our lush suite.

A plate of complimentary sweet treats on arrival at our room.

Double basins, upholstered bench and underfloor heating in the massive bathroom with bath and separate shower.

Beautifully, classically neutral furnishings in the bathroom with semi-exposed brick walls.

Our room as seen from our private pool. We had a view of the vineyards from our veranda.

 

Lunch at the Lanzerac Deli:

The entrance to Lanzerac’s Wine Tasting and Deli.

House-made preserves inside the deli.

A highly recommended lunch that consisted of the generous cheese platter and a glass of Lanzerac chardonnay.

The Lanzerac chardonnay is my favourite white wine in their series.

 

Wine tasting at the Wine Tasting Room: (A wine tasting experience is highly recommended – the cream of Stellenbosch’s finest wines.)

Display cupboard of Lanzerac’s current and previous wine collections and packaging. Note the iconic round bellied rosé at the top left – now updated to a more contemporary look.

Tasting the premium wines in the Lanzerac wine collection.

Merlot tasting.

The 2015 Lanzerac Pinotage – the estate is famous for being the first commercial producers of pinotage in South Africa.

The textured label and gold detail says it all: this is a very special wine. The Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage.

 

Dinner at the Manor Kitchen. Each course was paired with a unique Lanzerac wine as recommended and presented by their new sommelier. The cabernet sauvignon was a highlight: (View the full menu here)

Brand new restaurant in an airy space with high glass ceiling details and marble tables.

I love the industrial feel of the windows and doors at the Manor Kitchen.

This chef was busy making raspberry soufflé – one that I had later that evening. It was absolutely superb!

Flavoured butters to go with our bread board: truffle butter, balsamic butter and classic butter.

Schalk’s starter: Confit duck leg salad, whipped Dijon mousse, shimeiji mushrooms, herbs.

My starter: Collection of cauliflower, beetroot gnocchi, sesame granola, Karoo williston, rocket, orange cream. Such a great mix of textures and incredibly smoky flavours.

Schalk’s main course: Fillet of aged beef, braised brisket, pomme anna, porcini mushroom, milk poached onion. This was one of the best dishes of the evening.

My main course: Citrus cured pork belly, chardonnay, barley risotto, poached pear, leeks, crisp sage. A stunning winter dish.

Schalk’s dessert: Vegan cheesecake, marshmallows, blueberry ice cream, toasted oats, raspberry compote. The cheesecake was made using pureed cashews along with other vegan ingredients. A triumph.

My dessert: Raspberry soufflé with white chocolate cream. This was the highlight of my dinner. Perfect in texture, tart and light, with poached raspberries at the bottom. Paired with the sweet white chocolate cream it was a match made in heaven.

Seeing into the newly built kitchen.

 

We enjoyed a delightful breakfast at the Lanzerac Deli and they served a version of what would be expected from breakfast in the main hotel soon. (Click here for the full hotel breakfast menu available from the Manorhouse Kitchen.)

A bowl of magnificent fresh fruit – just the way I like it.

A plate of local artisanal cheeses, crackers and preserves.

What would a breakfast be without pastries? My favourite!

Hot breakfast: Schalk ordered the French toast with

The spa: (See more info about packages and facilities here.)

The heated pool at the Lanzerac Spa with a magnificent view of the adjacent vineyards and mountain.

A dip in the hot jacuzzi on a cold winters day.

 

Here is more info on the Winter Warmth Spa Package 2018.

Visit Lanzerac online.

Tel:+27 (0)21 887 1132

Address: No. 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch, South Africa

A very warm thank you to Lauren (marketing), Joanne (reception), Patrick (manager), Eske (wine tasting), Cynthia (deli), Elvis (porter), Beki (dinner service), Tinashe (sommelier), Lizandé (spa manager), Julia (spa host), Antoinette (spa therapist) and everyone else from the Lanzerac team who made our visit so memorable. We will certainly be back soon.

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