La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa was chosen the Best Hotel in the World 2013

The breakfast corner of The Retreat in Tanzania

There I was last month, at breakfast in the The Retreat, an exotic luxury safari lodge in the middle of nowhere in Tanzania, which incidentally is one of the loveliest nature places you can ever imagine.

I was living a Travelife and checking emails, when a message made its way to my In Box regarding one of my favorite hotels.

My favorite dinner spot at Hippo Point
at The Retreat in Tanzania.
Steffi Graff and Andre Agassi
reportedly stayed in this very same place
just before we visited.

Apparently, La Residence, a truly special hotel in the wine district of Franschhoek in South Africa, was chosen as the best hotel in the world for 2013 by a group of discerning travelers via a prestigious annual survey.

Scroll down to read more…


Immediately, I conveyed the happy news to the Travel Companion sitting across the table from me at The Retreat in Tanzania. 

It was the kind of news I could share with him, as we’d stayed at La Residence during our trip to South Africa last November.

“Guess what?” I said to him. “My favorite hotel was just chosen the best hotel in the world.”

He’d been on his Blackberry as I fiddled with my iPad.

But when I said this, he looked at me inquiringly, as he very well knows I have a number of favorite hotels in the world.

Here’s a painting of me
at La Residence in Franschhoek

But I really thought he’d get this one straight away, as he knows how much I love La Residence.

In fact, I practically redecorated my house after staying here and becoming inspired by the tasteful explosion of colors.



I still remember how we’d had a very nice lunch that day, last November, at the Vergelegen Winery.

This truly special winery, about an hour’s drive from Franschhoek, is the destination of choice of the South African government, when they want to show VIPs the best of Cape Town wineries.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are just some of the VIPs who have visited Vergelegen.

As for us, we toured the winery and then had lunch at Camphors at Vergelegentheir fancy new restaurant that had just been open for two weeks.

The chef at Camphors at Vergelegen

The chef at Camphors at Vergelegen had made us some really delicious dishes.

We’d had a delicious and liquid lunch, sitting for around three hours outdoors on a beautiful day in South Africa.


And then we’d driven to Franschhoek, to check into La Residence.

It had taken some navigating skills to get there, as La Residence is situated away from the center of town, but getting lost was worth it.

What a beautiful hotel this is.


I remember oohing and aahing over everything, and especially over my Elton John suite, which was the best room in the house.

The owner of La Residence is a good friend of Elton John, you see, so she designed this particular suite to his requests and specifications, and he stays here whenever he is in Cape Town.

It had the loveliest bedroom and an equally lovely bathroom, which I spent ages in dressing up for dinner, just because it was so enjoyable to do so.

The Travel Companion grew quite impatient with me, taking my sweet time dressing up while he waited to go to dinner.

This was my bathroom at La Residence

Dinner at La Residence was among my favorite dinners on that trip, as well.

Chef Lennard, the hotel’s executive chef, set up a most amazing Chef’s Table for us right by the kitchen, and he personally cooked us a five-course dinner.

After dinner, we walked around outside and then it suddenly started to rain.

The Travel Companion started taking photos of the hotel in the rain, and the raindrops came out looking like snow flakes in his photos.

Coincidentally, we were looking at photos of our South Africa trip on his iPad while we were waiting to board our flight in some airport in Tanzania — and this was one of the photos that came up.

Every time I remember this very special hotel stay, my eyes light up.

It was with great difficulty that I forced myself to check out and leave sooner rather than way later.


We’ve written in detail about our stay at La Residence in the February-March 2013 issue of Travelife, the leading travel & lifestyle publication.

This same issue features some of the best hotels and restaurants in Cape Town and Francshhoek.

Please dig up your old issue if you would like to read more about this special hotel, and three other equally lovely hotels in South Africa, that we thought were so special, even in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

And, how funny. But here I am packing my bags to head back to Cape Town soon…