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Hotel Review – Oude Werf, Stellenbosch, South Africa

by in Places, South Africa, Stay.

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Image (c) Oude Werf Hotel

After spending several days in Cape Town in conjunction with WTM Africa in April, I was invited to experience Stellenbosch and the Cape Winelands for the last two days of my time in South Africa.

An easy drive from Cape Town that will take you less than an hour, Stellenbosch is a paradise for wine and food lovers – and damn good for beer drinkers too. But more on the town in a separate article – first let me show you where to stay.

I was provided with accommodation by the Oude Werf Hotel through the local tourism board as I would be participating in a brief programme of activities while in Stellenbosch. Having said that, initially I was planning to organise my own accommodation and the Oude Werf was already at the top of my list.

I love it when that happens.

Right, on to the review…

Oude Werf Hotel, 30 Church St, Stellenbosch, South Africa 7600 +27 21 887 4608

Website: http://www.oudewerfhotel.co.za

Email: hotel@oudewerfhotel.co.za

When?

Early April 2016.

Vital stats:

Four stars. Opened 1802, renovated 2014. 58 rooms over 3 floors.

Location, location, location?

You can’t get much more central that this. The name Oude Werf means “the old churchyard” so you won’t be surprised to hear that the hotel is located in Church Street and that it was built on the site of the first church in South Africa.

You’ll have no problem finding it if you ask for directions – everyone in Stellenbosch knows the Oude Werf. It is also the oldest continuously-operating hotel in the country.

What about parking?

Secure garage parking is available free of charge – it’s a valet system so just hand over your keys at reception and they’ll take care of the rest.

Why choose this place?

Oude Werf has many things going for it – not least its history and location. In addition, the hotel is renowned for friendly service, lovely rooms and excellent dining. The fact that there is a pool in which to cool off and a pleasant garden in which to relax helps too.

On top of all that, like most South African hotels it’s superb value for foreign visitors.

Room

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There are three types of room available. Superior rooms are found on all three floors, contain king or twin beds and some have balconies or patio areas.

Deluxe rooms have high ceilings and period-style furnishings. These are found in the original building, are larger than the others and feature coffee making facilities.

Finally there are the luxury rooms which feature soft tones and individual historic style elements. All luxury rooms have a balcony or patio.

The majority of upper floor bedrooms can be accessed by lift and families and groups can be accommodated in adjoining rooms. The entire hotel was extensively renovated in 2014 and all rooms have the modern amenities you would expect from a luxury hotel.

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I was allocated a superior room on the ground floor with a patio near the pool. I loved the colour scheme that was colourful and bright. The room itself was airy and light, too.

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The large bed was an absolute dream to sleep in – South African hotels seem to excel in finding quality furniture.

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Again, there were plenty of pillows to choose from, which seems to be another South African hospitality trait…

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The desk was a good size and having a power point next to it was very practical. And what about that mirror?

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My patio opened onto the quiet inner courtyard; the swimming pool is just to the left of this picture.

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Guests should have no complaints about storage space – there is plenty available and the safe is big enough to fit a laptop (always a bonus).

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A Nespresso machine was provided as well as a kettle for the tea fans out there.

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A good selection of both coffee and tea varieties is supplied.

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The minibar can be stocked upon request or used as a handy fridge. Or both. I prefer hotels to have a selection of cold drinks in a minibar for my arrival and don’t mind paying through the nose for a beer while I relax on the bed in my new abode.

I appreciate that I may be alone in this, but it’s still a missed opportunity for a little extra income.

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Fluffy bathrobes are provided too.

Carpets?

Yes and no. Well, no really but there is a large rug in the sleeping area which was immaculately clean, so I have zero complaints here.

Bathroom

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The room is divided into a sleeping and bathroom area. A modern and very funky vanity and mirror split the space in two.

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On the other side of the bathroom area is an equally trendy bathtub.

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There is a separate toilet and shower too, so all your options are covered.

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The water pressure was great but the water did tend to flood the floor from the shower cubicle.

Here’s a video of the room to give you a better idea:

Free internet I hope?

Yes – wifi internet access is free and fast – the signal was very strong throughout the property and I was able to run multiple devices without any problems.

Bar and restaurant?

Both. There is a comfortable and informal bar area and a full restaurant which has a justifiably good reputation. I ate dinner here and can recommend it wholeheartedly. The menu includes many twists on South African classics using regional flavours and local ingredients. Being Stellenbosch, there is of course an excellent wine list.
It’s a nice space, too – with an open kitchen so guests can watch the staff at work, a lovely fireside area for cold days and a vine-covered courtyard for warmer ones.

Pool, sauna?

Oude Werf has a tempting pool in which to cool off with a very nice poolside area and garden.

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Yet again, I missed the chance to test the water as I had zero time to do so. I will be back!

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Image (c) Oude Werf Hotel

The breakfast was included, right?

Yes, and it was superb. A buffet table that was seemingly groaning under the weight of cold cuts, fruit, cereals, local cheeses, bread, pastries  you name it. Guests can also choose from a selection of hot dishes including an absolutely delicious Eggs Benedict.

Service

The staff were exceptionally friendly and efficient at all times – a real highlight of my stay.

Green or mean?

I’ll let the hotel explain.

“Oude Werf’s ‘Living Green’ ethos applies environmental, sustainability and resource-saving practices throughout the Hotel. We recycle a most of our waste, generate solar thermal power and use energy and water-wise devices. We actively source producers of local, eco-safe and ethically produced goods and we are members of key environmental initiatives.”

It goes beyond the environment, too, with this excellent community scheme:

“Our Kids of the Cape Fund assists a variety of upliftment projects that provide child/youth refuge and care, education, skills-training, feeding and care of the disabled. Run by elected hotel volunteers, the Fund also receives vital contributions from our guests.”

Wonderful stuff.

Any points/miles to earn?

No – this is a privately-owned hotel.

Can they look after your bags after you check out?

Yes, they are happy to do so.

The Damage

Rates vary according to demand but a random check put the price of a night’s stay including breakfast at around ZAR 1900 upwards, which is excellent value. Check the rates for your dates on the hotel website.

The verdict please your honour...

The Good

Well, all of it. A perfect location, a lovely room, plenty of space, fabulous food and friendly service.

The Bad

Nothing really, although I would like to arrive to a minibar with at least a beer in there. 🙂

The Ugly

Nothing.

Closing comments:

You’d be crazy to come to Cape Town and not visit Stellenbosch, and you’d be crazy to visit Stellenbosch and not stay at the Oude Werf. One of the best hotels I’ve experienced in South Africa, and one that I highly recommend.

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