The divine is in the details

Magic Majeka a Stellenbosch gem

Regular travellers know, a hotel is a hotel is a hotel.  It’s only the small details that set them apart.  The fact that the staff remember your name.  The way the chef cooks the bacon.  The art on the walls.  All these small elements conjure up a personality that can make a hotel somehow feel different.

Majeka House is one of those places.  Hidden on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, just an hour from Cape Town and right in the middle of the area’s famous winelands, this small boutique property is filled with little surprises.  Wooden floors in the showers, crystal, chrome and beaded chandeliers, Lavazza Blue espresso machines in each room and love-seats in the gardens strewn with jewel coloured cushions are just some of the things that delighted me during my stay.

Originally the home of Karine Dequecker and Lloyd van der Merwe, the couple wanted to do something special with the property and decided to turn their large grounds into a tranquil escape for travellers. The family house remains, while additional wings, cottages and a small freestanding villa have been added as part of the refurbishment.   Opened in November 2008, Majeka’s white washed buildings, green awnings and umbrella-shaded chaise lounges merge with a lush, colourful garden to create a French Provencal feeling in an intimate setting.

Both Karine and Lloyd have a background in hospitality, and are widely travelled, so combine their personal experiences with professional expertise.  Despite some real teething problems with their reservations and billing systems, they’ve created something quite special.

The individual rooms are sumptuously appointed, with crisp white linen accented by leather headboards, rich quilted bedspreads and cool terracotta tiled floors.  The good sized bathrooms have a sliding barrier set into their dividing wall so that slothful souls like me can lounge about in the bath with a glass of wine and still watch the wide-screen TV while delicious Moya products add the sent the room with Cape Geranium and Camomile.

When I compliment a piece of art in the cosy bar and library area of the hotel, Karine laughingly tells me that the family influence has definitely extended out of their home and into the hotel’s décor.  She points out pieces from her parent’s home as well as her own in amongst those bought especially for the room.  A wander around the many small boutique shops in Stellenbosch proves the origin of many of the other small décor touches throughout the hotel.

An excellent kitchen offers fine dining, while on-site facilities like a conference room for 16, wireless internet access, heated pool, steam room and sauna, as well as spa run by The Sanctuary Group mean that haven-seekers need not leave the grounds if they don’t want to.  In fact, I spotted a number of guests having breakfast in their slippers, clearly quite at home at the pool-side tables.  Of course, with the historic town of Stellenbosch and some of the Cape’s most award winning wine farms within minutes of the gates, you might still be tempted to venture out.

Majeka House:

26-32 Houtkapper Street,

Paradyskloof, Stellenbosch.

+27 (21) 880 1549


Rates are priced from R800.00 per person per night sharing and are inclusive of breakfast.

Photographs by Gideon Joubert.

Written for Moneyweb Life in February 09.

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