Following a devastating fire last year, Lanzerac Wine Estate’s Hotel has reopened after undergoing an extensive refurbishment. Project coordinator and designer Con van der Colff was tasked with the hotel’s new look, which complements the property’s Stellenbosch setting and rich heritage.
He says: “After the fire we, as a team, became much more heritage-conscious in our approach.” This has been translated in the external aesthetics as well as in the curation of the interiors to highlight the 326 year-old estate’s rich Cape history and the old world charm with which it is synonymous.
Van der Colff counts the Governor’s Hall as one of this favourite areas of the property. The space was originally built in 1925 as a wine cellar, said to celebrate Abraham lzak Perold formulating the world’s very first Pinotage on the property. He shares: “The sheer impact and rustic ambience of the space – with its dark roof structure featuring 13 exposed spruce pine trusses, textured walls showing a historical time-line of the building, imposing sandstone cladded fireplaces and leathered marble floors – leaves a lasting impression. The idea was to create a palatial hallway lined with old armoires, art and mirrors beneath patina’d brass chandeliers.”
The Taphuis, Lanzerac’s legendary watering hole, has been painstakingly restored after being gutted in last year’s blaze. The restoration pays tribute to legendary hotelier and owner David Rawdon who opened the bar in the 1960s, but quirky elements have been added to the space, such as an early Victorian bar cupboard which came from an old hotel in Malmesbury. “This cupboard really is an imposing piece and will, in my opinion, become a talking point amongst visitors as it is simply something you do not see every day.” Additionally, a few items that were salvaged from the flames – like the four Sandveld riempie chairs, wakis bench and antique till – once again take their rightful place in the Taphuis.
The Manor Kitchen also showcases something special and will surely become another talking point at the hotel – the kitchen used to be a distillery: “Significant effort was made to recreate the interior of the old structure – now filled with gleaming stainless steel equipment – so that it would resemble the original distillery. By giving guests a view into the kitchen from the dining area – with the flames from the gas burners, steam rising from the boiling pots and the whirring of the mixers in the prep areas – they feel part of the creative culinary process.”
Another van der Colff favourite is The Craven Lounge – the on-site cigar bar. He drew inspiration for this area from old Victorian gentlemen’s clubs and officers’ messes. “This magnificent space has high ceilings, an old wrap-around oak bar counter, oak cladded columns and an impressive array of animal trophies along the walls. The colours and textures of the different surfaces work well together, with dark walls and ceilings harmonising with the colours in the carpets and the reds of the uniforms worn by the military men featured in the framed pictures amassed on one wall. The area has a very masculine aura thanks to elements such as the patina of the brass chandeliers and light fittings, as well as the sandstone-cladded fireplace, amongst others. The look, feel and smell of the leather on the deep-buttoned Chesterfields and wingback chairs reminds me of Winston Churchill and I can imagine him here, with a smouldering cigar in one of the heavy marble ashtrays. The finishing touches are the marble steps in the entrance and a handrail with a marble inset on one side of the steps leading down to the other exit.”
Within each of the fifty-three exquisitely styled bedrooms and suites, van der Colff began the decoration process by selecting a centre piece and building the look and feel of the room organically around this focal point. No two rooms are alike, yet all reflect the history of the estate with contemporary influences blended in. One of the rooms he is most proud of is 209, the features of which he says are “almost Napoleonic“. The fabric on the upholstered walls is very subtle and its colours work well with the antique Mahogany furniture. The paintings further compliment the otherwise simplicity of it all and the colour of the Chobe carpets enhances and binds all the other colours together. In the bathroom, the hues of the painting and its frame are complimented by the rustic finish on the walls, which also contrast beautifully with the finishes on the white bath and hand basins with their chrome railings and taps.
The five boardrooms on the estate have also each been given a unique look but, for the Project Co-ordinator and Designer, the piece de résistance is the Masters Study (so named in memory of David Rawdon). Van der Colff explains: “This space was not planned. It previously served as the maintenance store and while replacing the roof of this small building, I had the idea to use the ornate marble columns which I had bought at some stage. Due to their length, we had to raise the wall plates and create a pitched roof with extremely high gable ends, almost like that of a Gothic-style cathedral. I was lucky to have found some very old faded tapestries which blended in nicely and I completed the room with ornate wrought iron pieces. At night, with the lighting set right, this space becomes very special as the crystals from the chandelier sparkle against the other medieval-like surfaces.”
For more information on Lanzerac, visit the website.