At times, the chaos of our current reality reverberates noisily against the walls of my innermost sanctuary. Feeling tired and a little bit weary of the world, I recently retreated to the sacred spaces of Angala Boutique Hotel to nurture my mind and body in nature.
Inevitably, the last 16 months of pandemic living will catch up to us in different ways. I’ve been feeling a little claustrophobic lately, and my wandering heart longed for open spaces and fresh air. My overthinking mind begged for a few moments of reprieve and my body warned against burn-out, pleading for me to release my shoulders from my ears.
Exhausted of negotiating between fight or flight, an invitation from Angala to hide away for a weekend left me feeling shaky with immense gratitude. Simply the prospect of surrounding myself in nature’s embrace was enough to make me hastily pack my overnight bag, but little did I know of the spoils that awaited me in the arms of Angala.
Angala is where homely luxury blends with the pristine beauty of nature…it is the barefoot 5-star sanctuary you have been searching for. Located in the heart of the Cape Winelands between the mountains of Paarl & Franschhoek, Angala seamlessly integrates luxury with nature, giving you a truly magic and tranquil experience where your world slows down and you move into the much needed disconnect we all seek. Make it your base for exploring the Winelands or indulge in the harmony of our spacious rooms and cottages (https://www.angala.co.za/).
Setting the scene
Tim and I arrived on a wintery Friday afternoon, with only a thin slice of sun cutting through the crisp air. The weekend lay moody and wet ahead of us, with little obligation or plan. I was elated at the thought. Angala breathed deeply under the low clouds, its expansive indigenous gardens washed clean from the recent rain. I could smell the earth and wet bark, water droplets glistening on heavy leaves. Our first welcome was loud birdsong, surrounding us from the trees like an immersive sound system, and my shoulders dropped just a touch.
Owner, Aubrey Blignaut, and Hospitality Manager, Carmen, welcomed us warmly on arrival and Aubrey’s son, Dane, saw us off at the end of the weekend. As much as Angala is a stunning 5-star property, it’s the hearts of the people in it that made our stay all the more memorable.
With a capacity of only 11 boutique rooms and more space than you’ll know what to do with, the comfort and safety of Angala’s guests during this time of pandemic sits squarely at the top of their priority list. With having to share the wide expanse of their luxurious facilities with only a small handful of guests at any time, there’s definitely a heightened sense of exclusivity and escape, which suited me like a perfectly fluffy gown.
Cleverly landscaped into its natural surroundings and textured gardens, Angala offers an all-season pass to holistic wellbeing. Equipped for cosy winter snuggling with plush couches and fireplaces, it just as easily transforms into a shelter from the summer sun, with pool-side seating, shady tree spots and wide, cool wraparound decks.
My feet instinctively lead me to the eco-pool. This natural swimming pond has filled my social media timelines and daydreams for weeks, and it’s even more surreal than any photo could portray. Closer to nature you can hardly find with dragonflies, frogs and butterflies calling this sanctum their home. Here, a sophisticated collaboration between man and nature circulate water through wetlands of aquatic plants and beds of rock and shale to filter the water, ridding it of any pollutants.
The result is a crystal-clear pond, mirroring the surrounding mountains and framed with lush greenery, beckoning you back into nature for the ultimate bare-foot experience. It felt like I was home.
Our haven for the weekend
Perched at the bottom of the gardens at the end of a quiet little footpath, we found our room. Our eyes swept luxuriously over the easy generosity of the room, from the spacious lounge, the open veranda, the extra-large bathroom and possibly the biggest bed I’ve ever slept in. And, to round off our haven, a perfectly private nook of garden overlooking the mountains of Franschhoek, replete with a birdbath for early morning viewing.
Even with Angala’s array of stunning secret outdoor spaces, I was happy that the Cape’s stormy weather kept us bound inside for the weekend. I wanted to spend time in this sumptuous room, which offered me a tranquil space to ease into.
The bathroom, of all places, was a showstopper in its simplicity. Without a hint of boastfulness, it offered not only his-and-her basins, but also his-and-her showers, alongside an oval free-standing bath. What I thought was glass windows onto the garden from the shower(s), was in fact sliding doors, leading to a third, alfresco shower, completely sheltered out of eye by intelligent, unobtrusive design. Built around the trunk of a magnificent golden tree, it’s here that I would spend my time lathering up in a steamy cloud, the icy raindrops and breeze invigorating every bit of my soul.
Equipped with all the amenities you’d expect of a five-star boutique hotel, there was a delightful cosy intimacy captured inside the room that encourages you to get comfortable and completely sink into the indulgence of the space.
I quickly and easily located all my favourite comfort items. A coffee machine and pods, a fireplace and a stack of wood, a beautifully fluffy gown and slippers, extra soft linen on the bed, ambient lighting in the shape of a Himalayan salt lamp, and of course, a snack basket filled with delicious treats. I couldn’t wait to get my book out and sink into the island of a bed, ready to leave the world behind for a few precious hours.
But, before we could cocoon ourselves indoors, we had to make use of the little bit of sunshine this Friday afternoon offered, as the rest of the weekend had a rainy forecast. We bravely changed into our swimming costumes, grabbed some towels and had a stroll to the heart of Angala: their wellness and hydro facilities.
Providing a clutch of sleek, state of the art wellness facilities, a stay at Angala includes access to their ozonated pool, heated plunge pool, steam room, infrared sauna and eco-pool. We spent many hours over the course of the weekend working the cycle of alternating hot and cold water and steam, refreshing our strained muscles and reviving our tired minds. Whilst Tim found dipping in and out of the icy ozonated pool incredibly refreshing, I much preferred the sound of burbling waters as I swaddled myself in the heated plunge pool’s warmth.
A few sessions in the infrared therapy sauna and I felt like a different person. Assisting with better sleep, relaxation, detoxification, circulation and the easing of pain, it was the simple ritual of scooping water over the coals that kept us coming back to the infrared sauna. The sizzle, the sudden jump in temperature and then that all-enveloping hug of heat. And the silence. The beautiful, much needed silence.
These hydro facilities are currently managed on a booking system, which allows slots between usage for staff to sanitise and clean the wellness areas before the next booking.
Room service, but better
We visited Angala during the height of the level four restrictions, meaning that all restaurants were closed. The very responsive team at Angala immediately set to work to ensure their guests still get to experience their fine dining dishes prepared by Chef Max, but in the comfort of their rooms. Room service at Angala takes on a whole different meaning, elevating this humble in-house service to personalised in-room dining experiences.
We had a little dining table set up in the corner of our room, with pretty napkins and shiny cutlery. Overlooking the private garden filled with bird-life and mountain views, it became our twice-daily haven inside our haven. In our dining nook, we sat down to start our day over a two-course breakfast and ended our day with a three course meal. In a gown and slippers, but fine dining nonetheless!
Our food arrived each time beautifully plated and packaged, steaming hot on trays under silver cloches. With the fire burning amiably and our favourite music softly in the background, it was every bit as glamorous as any night out, but better; because it was a night in. Rounded off with the most delectable chocolate fondant and berries, I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months.
The next morning we took breakfast to the veranda, under the watchful eyes of mousebirds and Cape robin-chats. It was splendidly relaxing, with steaming cups of coffee in hand as we breathed in the fresh air. There’s no better way to recharge than to let nature nurture you…with a little help from Angala, of course.
Winter Special Package for locals
You can also get closer to nature this winter with Angala’s Winter Special Package deal. Plus, if you purchase a package deal before 31 July, you’ll be automatically entered into their competition to win 3 free nights at Angala.
For more details on the package options and what it includes, please click here.
To book contact Carmen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +2721 874 1366 or +2721 300 3395.
Offer only available until end August 2021. Angala is compliant with all South African COVID-19 health and safety regulations.
We reluctantly pulled the door closed behind us on Sunday morning, but not before a last little hike up the mountain to take in the splendour of Franschhoek from a height. We tried to prolong our stay as much as possible, slowly meandering through the gardens, stopping for more photo-taking sessions and chatting to Dane about love and life.
As I settled into the passenger seat and the car’s nose turned back to the city, I did feel different. Lighter, more at ease. It’s as if your heart slows a little in the space, your mind stops clocking miles and your body relaxes back into its most comfortable stance.
Thank you to Aubrey, Dane and the whole Angala team, for making our stay such a tranquil and relished retreat.
Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.