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Small hotel, Big Break: The Akademie Street hotel serves local luxury with old-world attitude

It’s not hard to find some peace and quiet in this Franschhoek favourite

By House & Garden South Africa | January 17, 2022 | Travel Leisure

Text by James Nash

The Lowdown

Despite being a stone’s throw away from Franschhoek’s main street, with all of its aesthetic and gastronomic delights, you might not want to leave once you step foot into Akademie Street. Its meticulously planned interiors are abundant with handpicked antiques and other delightful details, immersing guests with a blend of historic charm and modern amenities.

The Hotel

The hotel has an impressive amount of history behind it, with its Oortuiging cottage dating back to around 1860, making it one of the earliest structures in Franschhoek, long before it became the town it is today. Thankfully, it embraces these qualities instead of trying to overwrite them, resulting in a much richer and more storied atmosphere to the hotel. The courtyard features a heated pool with plenty of space to lounge and serves as the central hub of the hotel. There’s ample space between each of the 9 suites, or 3 cottages, meaning guests are afforded plenty of privacy.

Photo by Jacob Lund

I spent my stay in the aforementioned Oortuiging cottage which has a sunny private courtyard with a pool of its own, sporting seats on the water’s edge and embellished with three lion’s head motifs spouting water. Inside, the space is split into two rooms, with a shared hallway space between them that leads to a convenient and subtle street entrance with a porch of its own.

Photo by Jacob Lund

The four-poster king-size bed is endlessly comfortable and each room has its own plunge pool capable of transforming into a wood-burning hot tub as the night grows colder. In the evening, sundowners and nightcaps are offered in the Orangerie, a glass-roofed space where guests also enjoy breakfast, offered gratis, including Akademie’s legendary granola.

The hotel’s been rightfully recognised, having been named the Best Boutique Hotel in the world in 2017 and consistently maintaining their ranking as the highest-rated, not to mention most romantic, hotel in Franschhoek on Tripadvisor.

The Design

Attention to detail is immediately evident here. Whether it’s the grand piano in the lounge or the vintage woven sunhats and shopping bags they loan guests, personality bleeds out of every pore. Much like the space itself, there’s a fair amount of history to many of the things you’ll find in throughout the hotel. Most items, should you ask, have a story that the general manager, Declan, will be willing to share with you in his charming Irish brogue.

Photo by Jacob Lund

The Green Room is a highlight and looks almost surreal, light flooding in and bouncing off the golden dining set and massive mirror, lending the space an ethereal glow. The Orangerie also uses light in an intelligent and insightful way. The plant filled space is soaked in sunlight during the day but, at night, the chandeliers turn on, changing the space entirely. When nightcaps are offered, whiskey and cognac are brought out in beautiful antique glass decanters.

Photo by Jacob Lund

Inside your room, you’ll find an expansive brass bath that serves as the centrepiece of the bathroom and a fitting counterpart to the old-world elegance that exudes from the rest of the room. Akademie Street’s design philosophy isn’t overly complicated. Instead, it’s the clear product of time spent adding and subtracting elements, carefully honing their aesthetic while still offering guests a unique and absorbing stay.

Photo by Jacob Lund

Hotel address: 5 Akademie Street Franschhoek, Western Cape, 7690

Website: aka.co.za

Phone number: +27 (0)82 517 0405 / +27 (0)21 300 0940

Prices from: R9500 per/suite cottage per night (R4750 per person) to R13500 per suite/cottage per night (R6 750 per person) in high season.

R6500 per suite/cottage per night (R3250 per person) to R10500 per suite/cottage per night (R5250 per person) in low season.

Take a look inside the Akademie Street hotel in the gallery below.

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