Tucked away in the picturesque Paarl valley, an escape to Angala provides tranquility for tired souls in a luxuriously agrarian atmosphere. Self-describing as a “barefoot 5-star sanctuary”, Angala offers visitors the best of both worlds with a strong emphasis on the holistic. That being said, if your style of meditation is more along the lines of a hot bath and series in bed, the boutique hotel happily caters to those that way inclined.
Located between the Paarl and Franschhoek mountain ranges, Angala can be found nestled on the slopes of the Kanonkop peak, with the famed Vrede en Lust and Rupert & Rothschild wineries as neighbours. Rolling vineyards aside, Angala’s property itself is predominantly indigenous, with fynbos planted between Mediterranean rosemary, Cape lemons and bushels of fragrant lavender. In between this sensory feast lie the hotel’s cottages – 11 luxury rooms each fitted with private verandahs, super kingsize beds and slow combustion fireplaces. We were fortunate enough to call Angala’s most premium offering – their Garden Suite – home for two nights and what with our stay falling during one of the rainiest weeks in Cape history, we made the most of the fireplace and bathtub for two.
Inarguably a place designed for romance, everything at Angala was a pleasure to experience as a couple. Catering to comfort, the Garden Suite looks out over it’s own private plunge pool as well as enjoying access to a scent garden where I discovered many of my beloved indigenous herbs like kapokbos and pelargonium. Inside, a small but well-equipped kitchen makes self-catering a breeze and a rather impressive looking braai on the verandah can be utilised in the summer months. A squashy sofa sits opposite the fireplace with a large sliding door leading into a spacious bedroom replete with armchairs, wardrobe, coffee table and simply put, the most enormous bed I’ve ever slept in. Concertina shutters provide privacy but I so loved waking up to a view over the gardens and mountains each morning. My favourite part of the Garden Suite had to be the bathroom with it’s twin showers (now a necessity for me!), half-egg bathtub and underfloor heating.
Angala is one of those rare getaways that are built in equal parts for both summer and winter. Although boasting three hotel pools – one of them a beautiful eco-oasis – and outdoor showers, Angala is just as inviting during frigid temperatures and a steady downpour. The restaurant and lounge area were kept toasty during our stay thanks to a powerful slow combustion fireplace which made dining a very comfortable affair. A breakfast of fresh fruit, farm yoghurt, freshly baked bread and a full English comes standard with one’s stay and lunch is usually made up of a selection of platters but dinner at Angala is an experience not to be overlooked. Helmed by Chef Max, each aspect of dinner at Angala was outstanding – from a tastefully curated starter of grilled prawns and squid in a verdant pesto dressing to succulent ostrich fillet on creamy mashed potato to a decadently wintery apple strudel with ice cream.
Max himself hails from Malawi where he cut his cooking chops in an Italian eatery. Having moved to South African in 2007, Max has been employed on the Angala property (originally the Cathbert Country Inn) since 2008 and has developed his culinary style to master dishes as freshly and simply as possible. The result is a Chef who respects his calling, aiming to highlight the quality of his ingredients over trendy food frippery. Since starting their yoga retreats, Angala has also offered more vegan and vegetarian options, all of which Max has put his own unique twist on.
Although I can’t vouch for any plant-based plates, I can attest that Max’s ostrich fillet was the best I’ve sampled yet!
As far as libations go, we enjoyed a robust red with our ostrich and refreshingly pure water bottled by Angala. Using pure mountain water from a borehole on the property, Angala’s water is treated with UV lights and carbon filtration system before being gravity-fed into the hotel kitchen and a state-of-the-art Vivreau water bottling system for further filtration. The result is utter refreshment at hand for when a thirst is worked up. Not a difficult thing to do whilst exploring the property.
Father and son duo Dane and Aubrey Blignaut manage Angala and it was a pleasure to be welcomed by each of them in turn. I made mention to Aubrey about my love for growing my own vegetables and he very kindly allowed me to pick some lemons from Angala’s gardens. Citrus season is my favourite season and so I promptly made the most of my haul by boiling up a batch of lemon marmalade – the recipe for which you can find here.
Catering to health, happiness and overall wellbeing, Angala offers guests the use of an ozonated pool (cleaned with ozone gas O3 instead of chlorine), a heated pool and the aforementioned eco-pool. The latter is a wonder to behold, what with the clear pool filtered by an aquatic garden of indigenous flora and home to dragonflies, frogs and tadpoles. With no chemicals present, the pool offers bathers an immersive experience that is as soft on the skin as it is on the psyche. Forming part of Angala’s spa offerings, there is also an infrared sauna and steam room as well as a selection of massages, treatments and yoga available to enjoy.
For those on the hunt for a hot meal and perhaps a sampling of the Franschoek Valley’s finest wines, then Angala is conveniently located. We enjoyed pizza at local favourite Pappa Grappa on the Simondium Road before a comprehensive tasting at Vrede en Lust. Ensconced in the latter’s toasty tasting room, I was spoiled for choice with their selection and ended up taking home a bottle each of Vrede en Lust’s excellent Elgin terroir-Blanc Fumé, Marguerite Chardonnay and the robustly nosed Boet Erasmus Bordeaux blend.
For an escape a mere 40 minutes from the city, a stay at Angala is undoubtably all one needs to recharge, refresh and feel revitalised. The boutique is currently running a fantastic “locals only” winter special on accommodation until the end go August 2021 – lockdown regulations applicable. Give them a follow on Instagram to stay updated.