last update I was a little vague about just how we’d be unravelling our city-stress knots and niggles, now all can be revealed: I’d been invited to review* the oh-so-magical Majeka House in Stellenbosch for a few days. See just some of the best things we did below and click here for my official review, as the professional pics do a much better job than ours from our phones below…
There’s nothing better than that feeling of excitement when you’re about to set off on a road trip – even if it’s just a hop, skip and jump away. Always start your journey with pics of the road ahead and any pretty scenery to rub in the fact that you’re getting away from it all. Take this pic, for example. Road ahead, check. Pretty scenery, check. Excited to see more, check.
Sometimes the sights you see are so strange you’d think you were dreaming if you hadn’t snapped a photo. These scarecrow puppet people are at the Polkadraai farm stall and strawberry picking point about half-an-hour from home.
Those puppets are just to the left of where this shot was taken. Another road trip tip is to definitely stop when you see one of these yellow Nat Geo frames and take a photo no matter what the view.
Feel free to stop and try the local fare before you reach your final destination. This is Husband trying a Black Label draught at Hudson’s on Dorp Straat in Stellenbosch. Just as good as a draught at any other pub, and the cheese burger and chips we shared were just as good as any of the other Hudson’s meals we’ve had. It was so very windy that things were blowing off the tables and everyone else was choosing to sit indoors, but we couldn’t resist the pretty tree-lined street for a spot of people-watching.
In and around your room
Of course each form of accommodation differs, even each room at each venue will have its individual quirks. At Majeka House this included an honesty bar system in the kitchen corner, with a fully stocked fridge (don’t touch the R700 mini bottle of champers, whatever you do)! All these lovely treats were individually priced, apart from the complimentary coffee pods with complementary fresh chewy peanut butter cookies. Don’t worry, there were no crumbs in/on the bed for our room fairy to take care of as we ate them standing.
Look around your room very very carefully, as there may well be hidden features. Following our spa sessions we showered then trotted around in the bunny-soft robes in the room – and on sitting on the bed noted the landscape painting mounted above our heads.
You may notice other interesting room/suite features on your third or fourth lap. For instance, look at the suspended TV in the pic on the left, and the similarly inbuilt painting in the pic on the right. It’s the front and back of a swivel, so if you’d rather watch TV in the lounge you just give it a slight nudge and hey presto, the painting faces the bedroom and you’re ready to channel hop!
This was the view from our rooftop balcony. Lots of soothing colours for the eye, as well as pleasing mountain shapes to rest on.
If you’ve brought reading material with you, be sure to try out each possible reading point. For me this included various chairs on the two patios, our all-too-comfy bed and a number of couches and cushions in the lounge before I settled on this corner, complete with soft blanket to buffer against the wintery wind outdoors.
Snap the sunset from as many view points as possible. Or just over the course of a few minutes from the same spot. This is the setting sun from our bedroom balcony…
The same scene just five minutes later – all yellowy and happy-making.
Of course you can’t stay cooped up in your room the whole time and need to explore the grounds. What delightful grounds these are in Stellenbosch, with all sorts of hidden lighting cleverly highlighting features you’d otherwise miss in the daylight.
The spas and watery things
Following a back-relaxing hour-long couple’s massage all you want to do is close your eyes and think happy thoughts. Here is Husband, having a soak/pummel in the viciously strong Jacuzzi – so much so that the bubbles almost overflowed into the adjoining pool. No bubble bath required!
As we’re both Aquarians we could easily spend all our free time in water and be happy chappies. So of course I did the exact same thing as Husband. Note lovely landscape on the wall behind me, as well as doors off to the sauna and steam room – yes, they’re different things.
Here is Husband, stoking the steam in the steam room by topping up with hissing water over the aromatic logs every few minutes. As it was set to 70’C we didn’t stay in there for long.
At night, the chandelier-style lights lit up the spa and pool area in the most magical way. We’d been encouraged to have a swim or soak after dinner – all you do is swipe your room card to access the main hotel section, even after staff have locked up for the night. As appealing as the thought was, we didn’t follow through. Here’s why…
The fancy (filling) dinners
If it’s not quite dinner time, it’s surely time for a pre- (or post-) meal drink. We sampled two of the fancy cocktails at the blue-lit M Lounge – I went for the espresso martini, Husband had the Long Island Ice Tea. Both expertly made and just the right thing to sip at the fireside.
This is the fireplace beside which those cocktails were sipped. Note those walls of books are not real – that’s a special wallpaper that almost everyone who entered the bar when we were there went up very close to examine.
If you’ve booked the three-course dinner at Makaron, Majeka’s in-house award-winning restaurant, don’t by any means fall for the idea that you’re only getting three plates of food. For example, soon after being seated you’ll likely be offered complimentary still or sparkling water and a breadboard filled with the freshest, fanciest bites with touches of onion and cinnamon where you’d least expect.
Once your wine is served, be sure to swirl it around a little in your glass to release the flavour, as Husband did with his. He made it last throughout the bread, amuse bouche, starter and main course, only opting for something different with his dessert. But more on that later…
See a sample of the things you’ll eat at Makaron. Top left is our saffron-infused amuse bouche. Top right is Husband’s prawn linguini starter, bottom left is my ‘rainbow beets with goat’s cheese chantilly’ starter, and bottom right is my steak with herb gnocchi mains. All part of just one meal. Plan ahead and go on an empty stomach!
When ordering dessert, be wary of ones with bits you’re not sure of. While my vanilla creme brulee was large, light and lip-smackingly good, with perfectly brittle sesame tulle on top, the exotic-sounding ‘yuzu’ was just that – exotic and a little too sharp on the tongue. Don’t be afraid to ask for your waiter’s recommendation.
Because our waiter recommended the caramel bar for Husband’s dessert, which was hands down the best thing we ate in Stellenbosch – and we ate a great deal of delightful meals! This may look small but was as caramelly, chocolately and ice-creamy as possible, with warm brown melty flavours and a dainty little coffee macaron on top – alas Husband popped the whole thing in his mouth before I could have a taste. Sad face. I’d go back just to try that mysterious macaron!
The sweet dessert called for something a little sweeter gliding down the throat, like a tot of KWV 5-year-old.
The breakfast choices
The breakfast buffet is eye-poppingly comprehensive, but don’t fill up before your hot meal arrives or you may not have enough space for it. Rather copy me and order a cappuccino, then pour a berry smoothie and mix all manner of muesli, nuts, yoghurt and berry coulis in a bowl to slowly munch through before your eggs benedict or bacon-filled French toast arrives.
Or copy Husband and fill a side plate with flaky croissant, selection of meats and cheeses and pepper to your liking. I repeat, do not overeat, especially on a Sunday. You’ll see why soon.
This is what said French toast and eggs royale looked like. Amazing and so filling. Especially if you have an adventurious day ahead…
The outdoor hikes
Just 5 minutes up the road from Majeka House is the entrance to Paradyskloof nature reserve. Do yourself a favour and go for a brisk trot or even a cycle if you’ve packed along your bike. There are no steep uphills and lots of shady bits to pause and catch your breath or admire the view – or both.
Of course you’ll take a selfie while you’re on your walk, as we did. This was the best option of the six we attempted, promise. 😉
The Sunday morning markets
Goodness me but you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Sunday morning markets in the Stellenbosch area. Our first stop was at the Blauwklippen market, where you simply won’t know where to look as there are so many tasty delights on offer. Best you not have already filled up on breakfast. We did not know this so just looked and looked while our full-to-bursting bellies made regretful noises.
The main Blaauwklippen restaurant is exactly what you’d imagine a ‘Cape Dutch eatery’ to look like, with warm inviting interiors (we just peeped through the windows).
Of course you’ll wander a little off the beaten track while browsing the Blauuwklippen Market, as it’s set on such pretty grounds, with ducks floating on ponds and squirrels chasing each other all around the greenery.
And then we stopped at the Route 44 Market at Audacia. Even more food, crafts and soul-rejuvenating scenery to look at. This is the view from just one of many seating areas.
By then we’d walked up quite an appetite, and Husband simply plopped himself down on the beach bar stool (with real sand for your shoes to rest in) at the Mussel Monger and ordered himself a couple of oysters. They smelled like the cold sea and I’ll bet tasted like it, too.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll need to go back to Stellenbosch many, many more times to fully experience all it has to offer. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Majeka House and Spa, what a treat!
*Disclaimer: Obviously our accommodation at Majeka House and meals at Makaron were part of the review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally. Prices included in my official review.*