10 June 2014 by Kate Turkington

Cape Town’s historical and beautiful Vineyard Hotel

I’ll nail my colours to the mast straight away: Cape Town’s Vineyard Hotel is one of my favourite hotels in the whole world. And I’ve stayed at a few over the last half century and more – from palatial palaces in India, Moorish marvels in Morocco, B&Bs in Ireland with the best breakfasts in the world, to houseboats in Kashmir, castles in Spain and ancient monasteries in Tibet.

The Vineyard's Manor House

What is it about the Vineyard Hotel that is so appealing? Well, if Cape Town is consistently lauded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, then the Vineyard has one of its top locations. Situated at the foot of Table Mountain’s eastern slopes, the view from the mountain-facing rooms would take away the breath of even the most jaded traveller.

Then there’s its history. Built in the late 1700s by British colonial servant Andrew Barnard and his Scottish wife, Lady Anne Lindsay, they first moved into the house in February 1800. Lady Anne immediately set about creating beautiful gardens, which you can still enjoy today. Take a guided garden walk through the award-winning riverside gardens, or stroll on your own. Admire the profusion of indigenous trees – yellowwood, black and white stinkwood, wild olive, hard pear.

Your room with a view ...

If you love birds, ask for a bird list and try spot some of the scores of species flitting about the trees, shrubs and bushes.

(By the way, when I took my early-morning walk down by the river – only a few paces from my room – I was accompanied by a very confiding white dove that fluttered and hopped along beside me.)

Lady Anne was a copious writer and illustrator of journals and letters, and today they form part of the Lindsay Collection, acknowledged to be one of the most remarkable family archives in existence.

Visitors have been visiting the property since Andrew and Lady Anne first moved in, so you’ll be following in the footsteps of family, friends, and military and naval types, plus generations of other visitors from all over the world. One military man, Major General Henry Dundas, wrote after he first visited in 1800, 'Upon my word, this is a dashing thing, to build a house such as this at the Cape, Lady Anne.'

Apparently the Vineyard (so-named because of the vineyards that surrounded the property then) was South Africa’s first English country house.

The Vineyard is undeniably beautiful – from the moment you step into the tiled lobby with its antique furniture, until you come to rest in your own tasteful room, you’ll be surrounded by space, serenity and grace.

The Vineyard is undeniably beautiful – from the moment you step into the tiled lobby with its antique furniture, until you come to rest in your own tasteful room, you’ll be surrounded by space, serenity and grace. The staff are warm and friendly (no pretentiousness here), the spa award-winning and the food excellent. Choose between a slap-up wine-pairing dinner, a sushi platter, or high tea on the Terrace.

If you’re a fitness freak, or just need to work off some of those calories, there are 3km or 5km jogging routes, which start from the hotel’s main entrance.

The hotel’s clear fresh water comes from its own springs (the most recent one only discovered in 1995), and is so abundant that plans are afoot to create a small lake that will flow into the Liesbeek River.

I first visited the Vineyard more than 30 years ago. There have been some structural changes since then, but the spirit and grace of Lady Anne still live on.

The upper deck of the Square Restaurant
The Vineyard gardens

Category: Attractions, Food & Wine

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