A tranquil wellness retreat at the foothill of the Franschhoek mountains

At Sterrekopje, a biodiverse farm and wellness retreat in the Cape Winelands, Chris Schalkx finds a real-world Eden, where tranquil rooms, heavenly gardens and intuitive treatments combine to create a restorative sanctuary from modern life
Sterrekopje is a tranquil wellness retreat in the Franschhoek mountains
Elsa Young

While Sterrekopje’s lush setting worked like a tonic on the soul, it was the Bath House where I found true bliss. Set in the original manor house, it includes a hammam and treatment rooms – a North Africameets- India melange of tasselled parasols and marble bathtubs, with lavender bundles suspended from the ceilings. Daily wellness rituals focus on both physical and spiritual healing. There is intentionally no spa menu, to help guests break free from the choice overload that infuses our everyday lives. Instead, they can book two- to seven-night journeys, which are designed to bring them closer to themselves through guided breathing workshops, sound baths and sleep rituals. During an intuitive massage, resident therapist Bernice McLean, whose smile could light up a room, kneaded, pulled and stretched my limbs into blissful submission.

The cloakroom in the main house is tented in a striped Indian canvas.

Elsa Young

My days here synced to the farm’s rhythm: early-morning strolls through the dewy gardens to help harvest ingredients for breakfast and lunch dishes (from shakshuka to punchy Thai curry), served at a communal dining table in the open kitchen. There were moments of quiet contemplation, curled up on a sofa in the library lounge, or in the shade of olive trees around the pool. And I could dip into the atelier to sketch, or to create pottery from Sterrekopje’s clay, then soak up the sunset with a glass of local Chardonnay. In those moments, all was well. If Eden did exist, I would imagine it looking something like this.

Ways and means

Rooms at Sterrekopje cost from around £1,025 for two-night stays, including all meals, drinks and wellness rituals.