Lanzerac Hotel & Spa in Stellenbosch’s legendary wine country has operated as a fine country estate since 1958 – but its vineyards were first planted more than 300 years ago. With many modern features and services, it still retains the Cape Dutch look, which has been so carefully preserved.

Did you know?

The world’s first bottled pinotage wine was produced on the Lanzerac estate in 1959.

The story of what is today known as the Lanzerac Hotel & Spa goes back to 1692, the early days of European settlement at the southern tip of Africa.

Ensign Isaac Shrijver was the Indiana Jones of his time. When he wasn’t heading into the uncharted wilds of the Northern Cape in search of copper, he was embarking on trading trips into the Great Karoo, crossing the jagged Kammanassie mountains and learning all about Khoi people like the Hessequa, the Gouriqua and the Inqua.

So impressed was Governor of the Cape Colony Simon van der Stel with the good ensign’s explorations and success at trade with indigenous groups along his routes, that he granted Shrijver a massive stretch of real estate in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley near Stellenbosch.

Shrijver and his party of freed slaves planted vineyards on his new farm, which he called Schoongezicht (beautiful view).

In 1914, a subsequent owner called Elizabeth English renamed the estate Lanzerac.

In 1958 a young man named David Rawdon bought Lanzerac and spent a year renovating the property into a world-class country hotel. The stories of how Rawdon went searching high and low for neglected pieces of antique furniture and how he brought them back to life are part of local legend.

But the ‘golden tales’ of this historic South African hotel revolve around the long list of foreign guests who made the estate their favourite stopover in South Africa. Collectively known as ‘The Swallows’, they were international models, magicians, writers, British royals, comedians and American politicians, among others.

They’re still talking about the guest who removed his wooden legs and tucked them under the bed before going to sleep one night. He’d left the socks and shoes on the prosthetics, so when the chambermaid came in the next morning, she quite calmly enquired as to whether ‘the master under the bed’ would like a cup of morning tea as well.

The modern-day Lanzerac Hotel & Spa still retains its old Cape Dutch charm, offering world travellers a choice of 48 luxury rooms, complete with views vineyards and the sweep of the nearby Helderberg Mountains.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Lanzerac Hotel & Spa
Tel: +27 (0)21 887 1132

How to get here

Driving from the centre of Cape Town to Stellenbosch will take under an hour. The distance to Stellenbosch is even less if you’re going straight from Cape Town International Airport. Take the N2 highway till you turn off to Stellenbosch on the R310, on which you will travel for about 17km. See the listed Lanzerac website for precise street directions to the estate.

Best time to visit

Lanzerac is an all-year destination.

Around the area

You’re surrounded by wine estates. The Stellenbosch Wine Route alone encompasses more than 100 cellars, each with its own attributes and identity.

Tours to do

You can go on wine estate tours, cultural and history trips, and specialised adventures around the Stellenbosch area. Consult the listed Stellenbosch Tourism website for details.

Get around

There are a number of tours from both Cape Town and Stellenbosch, but many travellers to this area prefer to drive themselves because it gives them a greater choice of routes.

What will it cost

Check the website for details and occasional specials.

Length of stay

Depending on your plans, Lanzerac is either good for a special overnight stay, or at least a three-day base for exploring the area.

What to pack

Pack mostly informal clothes for the day, but do throw in some smarter evening wear for dinner time as well.

What to eat

The restaurant at Lanzerac offers fine dining, and Stellenbosch is known throughout the country as a great ‘restaurant town’. Check with the hotel and the listed Stellenbosch Tourism website.

What's happening

Check the events calendar on the listed Stellenbosch Tourism website.

Best buys

Treat yourself to something special at the Lanzerac spa.

Related articles