Bed in a suite at Sterrekopje, Franschhoek, South Africa

Franschhoek, South Africa


In a world where the cutting edge of wellness increasingly relies on tech-based novelty, Fleur Huijskens and Nicole Boekhoorn of Sterrekopje propose a ravishing return to simplicity, spirituality and – as amply demonstrated by their flair for interior design – style.

Of the 50 hectares Sterrekopje comprises, some seven form a produce garden, and each day of our stay, we followed the invitation to pluck berries or pick flowers with a childlike joy. There are no menus here; instead, the chef, Edwin, consulted with us on our current cravings and created homegrown and seasonal meals that nourish both body and soul. And, although the farm is very much about living healthily, we happily obliged as Marlon, our waiter on the first night, suggested a glass of sweet lavender cordial from the estate or another of Chenin blanc. What all this means is that this place feels somehow different from anywhere else in the Cape Winelands we’ve stayed before. In a nutshell, when Sterrekopje opened its doors in March 2022, it created a type of holiday that simply didn’t exist in the area previously.

A 17th-century farmstead just outside Franschhoek, Sterrekopje could be said to revolve mostly around its stunningly appointed bathhouse, where guests get to experience treatments in rooms whose decor was inspired by countries ranging from India to Egypt and Kenya to Morocco. Creating this place no doubt entailed a lot of work, and it’s clearly paid off: owners Fleur and Nicole’s eye for interiors has earned them the acclaim of the world’s leading interior design publications. But what makes Sterrekopje so easy on the eyes isn’t an adherence to design rules or a knack for chasing down the latest furniture trends at Salone del Mobile. Instead, there’s something unexpected wherever you look, an element of play and joy that manifests in boldly patterned fabrics, large-scale murals or, in a particularly original instance, a fringed parasol in the bathhouse. In our personal sanctuary, this spirit was encapsulated by an impressive painting of a circus performer with two albino pythons around her neck.

Stylistic contrasts also feature across Sterrekopje’s grounds, for which Fleur and Nicole invited renowned gardener Leon Kluge to create what could be called a productive playground. Strewn around the estate, you’ll find an orchard, vegetable patches, ponds, a sunken garden and a boating lake, interspersed with a yoga yurt, tree swing, water features and countless secret nooks designed for reading, resting and recharging. One sunny morning, Leon took our fellow guests and ourselves on a walk around the grounds and, despite having been on the farm for a few days, we saw countless corners we hadn’t yet discovered.

This Basecamp review is an extract from a longer feature article, first published in print. To read the full article, click here.

Perfect forFly intoRight on time
The EscapistCPTGMT +2
While you’re Out There
We’re always ones to advocate for exploring the destination that you’re in, but this one time, we really advise that you don’t stray far from the farm. For one, if you’ve come for a retreat, you’ll want to slow down and not overstimulate the mind. But beyond that, there’s actually an amazing amount of small wonders to discover at Sterrekopje for those who can’t sit still, from boating and getting involved in the kitchen to playing with the farm animals and simply going for walks on the estate. This place is a retreat in its purest form.

Some of the garden’s appeal is arguably also down to the animals that call it their home and belong to the Sterrekopje family. There’s the cheeky duo of pet pot-bellied pigs, Croissant and Frangipani, who use every opportunity they get to roam around the grounds (and, we hear, occasionally find their way into the main house in search of belly rubs). Between them and Sterrekopje’s chickens, dogs, cats and a couple of wonderfully sociable cows, Frances and Georgetje, loving interaction with animals and therapeutic cuddles are very much the order of the day.

At times, the most luxurious benefits of any stay in a hotel (although this place is much more than that) are the well-judged attentions afforded to us by members of staff, of course. And the best service of all is always personal, empathetic and sincere. It’s the kind of care we received during our stay, though rather than it being a ‘service for sale’, Sterrekopje calls its experiences – which range from breathwork to qigong and hypnotherapy – rituals. Each day of a stay here includes one such ritual, and we’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite. Our private yoga class with teacher Chantalle awoke body and soul for the day that lay ahead. Our intuitive massage with therapist Josephine released tensions and emotions. And during our cleansing ritual, again with Josephine, she lathered us up on a warm hammam stone table, exfoliated our skin and ran us a fragrant wildflower bath infused with mineral salts.

It’s clear that connection is something that Fleur and Nicole want to run through every aspect of a stay at Sterrekopje. So is creativity, whether you join baker Augusta in making a loaf of bread topped with your favourite seeds, or ceramicist Jade in the arts centre for a lesson in pottery. This uncomplicated, no-limitations approach to a retreat is refreshingly new and all the more remarkable here, because as a wellness destination the African continent overall isn’t as established as Asia, for instance. But with their uninterrupted vastness, welcoming locals and agricultural heritage, the Cape Winelands make for an excellent place to slow down and allow oneself the deep, restorative rest this healing farm proposes.

Photography by Inge Prins and Elsa Young, courtesy of Sterrekopje

Bloom opt-in slide-in homepage

Join us on an adventure

Subscribe to our newsletter to enjoy early access to the latest news, luxury hotel reviews and inspiring travel tales, delivered straight to your inbox.

A confirmation email has been sent to your inbox. Welcome to the club!