From the balcony of one of the Santé Hotel and Spa’s manor suites, the world looks magnificent. As night falls, panoramic views of the Simonsberg Mountains are replaced by a vast display of twinkling stars. The stillness is almost tangible. The view in the other direction – of a spacious room with a romantic four-poster bath and king-sized bed – isn’t half bad either.
Set in a vineyard just outside Paarl, the Santé Hotel and Spa has embraced an Italian identity – from the proliferation of pillars and marble to the slightly ostentatious description of an outside area as ‘the piazza’. In an area so strongly associated with Dutch and French settlers, this architectural inclination feels a little out of place. However, different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. For the most part – with the exception of a few kitsch pieces of art – the décor in the hotel is refined and tasteful.
Ask for a picnic lunch and go fishing at one of the dams on the estate, or take a stroll through the vineyards. While there is plenty to do in nearby Paarl and Franschhoek, you’ll be forgiven for wanting to spend some time inside. More specifically, at the Bakwena Deluxe Spa. The sizeable spa offers a number of packages – including packages designed specifically for couples – as well as vino-therapeutic treatments. As a hotel guest, you can make use of the gym, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, heated pools, and multi-experience showers.
The hotel also has a billiards room, where you can play a game of pool before drinks in the Olive Bar and dinner at the hotel’s Debut Restaurant. The restaurant sources much of its fresh produce from the estate’s fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens. Although the hotel ticks a lot of the boxes it should, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it has seen better days. If you look closely, there are hints of shabbiness and the service, while sufficient, is lackluster. Perhaps, however, this is simply a symptom of the low season – a time for repairs and a scaled-back staff.