The Den Stellenbosch by Cape Summer Villas, and what to do in the City of Oaks.

By invitation of Theresa Gibbon, I joined a group of 12 media for a treat overnight stay at The Den in Stellenbosch. Checking into my gorgeous studio apartment with dashes of yellow and luxurious enjoying, right in the heart of Stellenbosch just off the R44. I really loved the colours and decor.

As we gathered on the rooftop to watch the sun go down over the nearby mountains, canapes and wine served by Waterford Wine was served, with winemaker Kevin Arnold joining us for conversation. He extended to each of us an invitation to experience the Waterford Wine Safari. We each received a bottle of Banhoek Chilli oil in our goodie bags, a Stellenbosch product by Ken Kinsey-Quick.

Dinner was served in one of the 2 bedroomed apartments with the owners Clara and Otto Wiehahn joining us, as well as Paul Duverge, the General Manager of the Cape Summer Villa Collection. Rich Rorich, the new head chef of sister property, Sky Villa in Plettenberg Bay, prepared our dinner. My vegetarian option was the most delicious curry.

My accommodation was in a stylish studio apartment with splashes of gold and yellow, a giant comfy bed, balcony (with a braai) and perfectly appointed en suite and well-equipped kitchen – with a coveted Moroccan tile detail. Sleep was sweet in the quality linen and snuggly warm room. In the morning I rose early to join Theresa on a two-hour walk that took us past the University of Stellenbosch and along the river, picking up a coffee as we went. Then it was a relaxed breakfast and back to the office – and reality.

The Den in Stellenbosch

Cape Summer Villas’ most recent addition to its boutique collection of properties in the Western Cape is 18 elegantly furnished, self-catering apartments at The Den in Stellenbosch, fitted with only the finest in fixtures, appliances and linen the collection has become renowned for.

This secure mixed-use development has a total of 60 apartments with interior design by Clara’s Interiors and features a communal rooftop deck with pool, a braai area and views of the nearby mountain range. There is no restaurant. The Cape Summer Villa collection at The Den comprises three 2-bedroom apartments (with separate bedrooms, en-suite bathroom, kitchen and lounge, with flat-screen TV with DStv, Netflix and Showmax) and 15 open-plan studio apartments situated on the top level (3rd floor); all with access to the communal rooftop pool and braai area.

The Cape Summer Villas’ sophisticated apartments are available for two or more night stays, are centrally situated and close to many of Stellenbosch’s top restaurants, with easy access to all roads that travel through the Winelands. Perfect for tourists, holidaymakers and groups wanting to visit the internationally acclaimed Cape wine route. The Stellenbosch University main campus is only 1.1 km away.

The Den offers air-conditioning, complimentary 1 gig capped high-speed Fibre internet, a serviced lift, secure off-street undercover parking and 24-hour security. The Reception is located on the ground floor and there is a resident on-site manager. You don’t need more.

Cape Summer Villas is a boutique collection of exclusive accommodations in the Western Cape and along the Cape Coast, from Mouille Point to Plettenberg Bay. Properties offer luxury amenities and cater to the discerning guest.

Cape Summer Villas

What began as a 3 bedroom guest house in 1996, has evolved into a privately-owned hotel group known as the Cape Summer Villas Boutique Collection.

This boutique collection of properties, located within the Western Cape Province of South Africa, boasts a variety of accommodation options. Each property is well positioned within close proximity to popular tourist hotspots and caters to a wide array of guests and their needs.

All properties within the group feature tastefully decorated interiors, the finest linen and 5-star amenities, which have all been selected to showcase their surroundings.

The Cape Summer Villas Collection most recently added The Den Apartments to the collection, thus bringing the total number of properties to Eight.  Located in Stellenbosch, The Den Apartments provide easy access to the university, private hospitals, restaurants and the Western Cape’s famous wine route.

A Must Do List For The City of Oaks

The second oldest settlement in South Africa, Stellenbosch is best known for its Cape Dutch buildings, fine university and remarkably good wine produced on the over 200 wine farms in the valley. Many offering tastings and tours; some with restaurants and picnic facilities, accommodation, amphitheatres and even wildlife experiences.

It’s a mecca of indulgence for the food and wine lover, yet over and above this Stellenbosch has succeeded in establishing an array of attractions young and old, tactile and cultural – to complement these flavours and tastes.

As with most places, the best way to discover historic Stellenbosch is on foot. You have the option of a local guide from the Stellenbosch tourism office, or buying a ‘Stellenbosch on Foot’ map and exploring the town at your leisure, with the focus on either historic attractionsor art. Church, Dorp and Ryneveld Streets host some of the country’s oldest houses that date back to the 1700s and reflect the distinct Cape Dutch architectural style through the years. Note that the guide can be pre-booked online. You are also open to exploring at your own pace, should you prefer.

Look out for the impressive Moeder Kerk, or Mother Church as well as Die Braak, a grassy town square, which is a national monument, in the heart of Stellenbosch. Around here you will find the Anglican Saint Mary’s Church, built in 1852, the VOC Powder House built in 1777 to store arms and ammunition for Boer commandos and the Rhenish Church built in 1823 by the Missionary Society of Stellenbosch as a missionary school for ‘slaves, and the coloured and black population’.

As you wander about, something that will strike you is the casual side street cafe living; coffee shops, bistros and restaurants with patrons overflowing onto the pavement, owning the space alongside their counterpart souvenir and antique sellers. It’s very atmospheric and adds a charming dimension to the historic tree-lined centre.

Must stop spots for coffee, pastry and breakfast line the streets.

Alternately you could opt for a Bites and Sites Foodie Tour with Hanli Fourie who’s tours explore the culinary history and culture of South Africa’s cuisine with it’s Afrikaans, Cape Malay and Xhosa influences. This you will do while engaging in conversations with the makers as you stop to eat in numerous homes along the way.

Take to the Museums starting with the Village Museum that consists of four houses ranging in eras from 1709 to 1929. They offer a glimpse of life through the ages. An onsite guide will take you through the home’s individual histories and talk about life in Stellenbosch of days gone by, why the doors are so low and the chairs and tables seem to have the shortest legs.

Not only children will delight in the comprehensive collection of dolls, teddy bears, Dinky cars, train sets, miniature planes and other toys on display at the Toy and Miniature Museum which is located in the historic Rhenish Parsonage that dates back to the 1700s, a treat in itself.

The Rupert Museum houses the private art collection of Anton and Huberte Rupert. Located in a Cape Dutch-style house on Stellentia Avenue, the 350 plus contemporary works date from 1940 onwards and hold the couple’s vision to share their art with the world. The focus is on South African artists such as Irma Stern, JH Pierneef, Willem Strydom and more.

There are plenty of Fresh Food Markets with the established De Warenmarkt on Ryneveld and Plein Street open from Monday to Saturday. Situated in a historical building dating back to the 18th Century and offering a select range of fresh produce, including speciality meats, cheeses, loaves of bread, vegetables, craft beers, coffees and other. Prepare to get stuck here as each vendor has an interesting tale of passion and providence that you will want to hear.

The Root44 Market every Saturday and Sunday is very popular; drawing patrons to enjoy its great food hall, live music, tree house and craft traders. A good place to meet friends. The Slow Market at Oude Libertas is an institution that for years has drawn visitors with more of a foodie focus. Each Saturday they offer an assortment of fresh local produce, organic treats and craft beer for the enthusiast.

For the Arts, look towards the high density of public art pieces on every street. Curated by the non-profit Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust who are turning this charming town into an art-focused destination and encouraging public engagement. Their current theme is Reflections, which each artist has interpreted differently and has walkers by stopping in their tracks to do just that, reflect for a moment.

Book a guided tour at the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Paradyskloof. Dylan is renowned for his spectacular and ever-larger animal form sculptures that play into the relationship between man and nature. Here you can see them in a beautifully landscaped natural fynbos vegetation garden, which provides a surreal experience and is also home to his studio.

It’s important to look beyond the town centre to the communities who drive it. I’ve taken a cultural tour of Kayamandi with the renowned local guide Thembi, which will offer a whole new perspective to the area. Enjoy a walkabout; drink in the vibrant atmosphere of the day, stop to meet a local potter, visit a local jewellery shop and taste Umqombothi – a local beer that is not for the faint-hearted. There is such a sense of community here and stories that bring them and the history of this area, to life. I’d recommend including dinner at the legendary Mama Swartbooi’s home, absolutely delicious.

Consider a full day cycling tour through the town and around the Stellenbosch University Campus, before heading into the scenic Jonkershoek Valley.

Popular attractions include Oom Samie Se Winkel, or directly translated Uncle Sam’s Store is an institution. Found on Dorp Street, the shop dates back to 1904 and literally sells everything from books, honey, jam, rice, rooibos, coffee mugs, dolls, t-shirts and more. It warrants a look even if you aren’t buying.

Spend time in the Botanical Garden, a somewhat hidden gem in the heart of the town. The greenway boasts a lily pond with giant water-lilies, a large bonsai collection, four greenhouses and some of the tallest tree species in the world, like the California redwood and the giant sequoia. There are a small nursery and a restaurant too. Perfect for a tranquil stop in the middle of the day.

Pick your own strawberries in season at the Mooiberge Farm Stall where you are greeted by the friendliest scarecrows this side of anywhere, depicting rugby teams, celebrities and local politicians. A fun day out with the family and the shop has a wide selection of wine, nuts, fruit and sweet treats for sale.

There are two nature reserves right on the edge of Stellenbosch to enjoy. The first is Cape Nature’s Jonkershoek Nature Reserve which lies just 8km east in the Jonkershoek Valley and is a favourite with hikers, mountain bikers, birders and general nature lovers. The other is the Jan Marais Nature Reserve which offers wide-open spaces to walk in and many indigenous trees and fynbos plants to enjoy, as well as a recently opened natural history library. This town reserve has picnic sites, a labyrinth and entry is free.

Waterford Estate is situated in one of the world’s most visually arresting pockets of paradise, the postcard-perfect Blaauwklippen Valley. The 120ha property is owned by Jeremy and Leigh Ord and managed by partner and Cellar master Kevin Arnold. The Estate has old citrus groves, rolling lawns, water features and fragrant lavender and rosemary beds. Visit them to a wine and chocolate tasting or to join their unique 3 hour Wine Drive Safari.

For a closer look at biodiversity in farming, visit the historic Delheim Wine Estate for an environmental walk, followed by a wine tasting and light lunch at their Garden Restaurant. Home to the legendary Spatz Sperling, his family and a tribe of Jack Russells, this charming property regularly wins green awards, practices responsible farming and is committed to nature conservation, even driving the Simonsberg Conservancy project.

Spier wine farm is one of the oldest farms in the region and is recognised for its cultural and historical significance as well as architectural worth. Today it leads the way with its ongoing commitment to Eco-Tourism and sustainability. Enjoy walks on the property, see where Farm Angus keeps his cattle and mobile egg-mobile. They subscribe to the Farm-To-Table philosophy with most produce served in their EIGHT Restaurant grown on the farm. You can even opt for a Segway tour.

For a change from wine to something unique, visit the organic family farm Rozendal to taste their balsamic vinegar. Nectar of the gods in a variety of infusions from Fynbos, Green Tea, Lavender to Hibiscus. They also have lovely accommodation, gorgeous dogs, farm animals and charming stories to share.

Whatever your preference as you head to discover more of what Stellenbosch has to offer, The Den will makesa perfect base in this oak rich city.

The Essential Details

For more information call +27 (0) 21 852 7352 or connect at The Den Stellenbosch and Cape Summer Villas. For media-related queries contact with Theresa Gibbon at theresa@theresagibbonpr.co.za, and if you’d like to try their delicious wines, contact Waterford Wines Brand Manager Nathalie Watkins at nathalie@waterfordestate.co.za for details.

** I was hosted by Theresa Gibbon and The Den, Stellenbosch.

** A few of the pics including the aerial shot of the the building and pool deck supplied.

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Dawn Bradnick JorgensenDawn Jorgensen
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The Incidental Tourist

The Incidental Tourist is a Personal Travel Blog of a conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment.

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