My mini Stellenbosch escape thanks to Coopmanhuijs Hotel & Helena’s Restaurant

by Karisa

I was recently invited to try out the Helena’s Restaurant in Stellenbosch, and because the folks of this gorgeous little winelands town are really just awesome in general, they said why not make a night of it and stay over at the Coopmanhuijs Hotel as well…

Well how could a girl say no to an offer like that?

And…. that is how my friend Janine and I popped out of town for a mini girly winelands break.

Now just to explain, the Helena’s Restaurant is situated within the Coompanhuijs Hotel which is situated at 33 Church St, right in the heart of of Stellenbosh.

Location wise you really can’t get better than this, because you’re basically right on the doorstep of all the quirky little Stellenbosch shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, giving you plenty of reason to enjoy a leisurely stroll (or two).



That terrace out front makes for a great spot to do some people watching… And in summer, I’m sure an alfresco dinner here is something quite amazing.

As a bit of background on the property itself.  The first recorded owner dates back to 1704 – a gentleman by the name of Albertus Bartholomeus Coopman (that’s of course where the name Coopmanhuijs comes from).  The current neo-Georgian architecture of the manor house section dates back to 1870 – 1900, and in 1978, Coopmanhuijs was proclaimed a South African National Monument.

Back in 1713 is opened as one of the first grand residences in Stellenbosch, but most recently it underwent 3 years of renovation to emerge as the 5-star Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa in 2010.  Since then it’s won numerous TripAdvisor awards and has consistently been named as the nr 1 hotel in Stellenbosch.  Understandably, I was extremely excited about the opportunity to stay here…

The first thing I noticed as I walked through the front door is that they’ve kept the decor in line with the history and old school charm of the building.  It’s elegant and warm, with a few quirky touches.  But definitely a throwback to days gone by.

They have 16 guest rooms in total.  All are air-conditioned and feature extra-length king size or twin single beds as well as an en-suite Victorian bathroom with underfloor heating.  6 of their rooms also have their own private balconies and I think if you can snag one of these, you’re definitely winning on the room front.

Our room unfortunately didn’t have a balcony, but we did have the top of range bathroom with bath, separate shower, toilet & bidet.  So judging by that I’d say were were what they class as a Classic Manor Room.  (Have a look at their different room options and related pricing over here)

I guess because we were 2 girlfriends sharing a room, they had decided to put us in a twin room:

Which we did giggle at for a few moments, because I couldn’t recall the last time I actually slept in a twin bed – but for the record:  they were very comfy

We did also manage to pop our heads into a double room while they were busy preparing it for the next guests who were checking in, and I snapped this quick photo just to show you the different setup:

Very pretty, no?

Our room I did feel was a bit snug.  Also the DSTV selection isn’t great.  BUT, our bathroom was the shining star that made us do a big, nerdy happy dance (more than once).  Check it out:

Oh yeah, now we’re talking…

Now let me give you a quick tour of the rest of the hotel:

This is the bar area downstairs. Isn’t is beautiful?

This is their lounge area… A bit too old school for me personally, but it does fit in with the overall style of the hotel.

This is Helena’s…

Loved the decor, particularly the trees with the fairy lights and the velvety wallpaper (it’s an actual velvet flocked wallpaper – just so you know)… I’ll cover the food later on…

This is the breakfast room…  Loved the high ceiling and overall airiness of this space.

And this is the outside courtyard & pool area…  The pool is relatively small, but it will definitely do the job on a hot day.

Then they also have a small spa onsite, but there were some treatments in progress, so I couldn’t get a photo of it I’m afraid.

Now their beautiful Helena’s Restaurant serves up a menu that reminds me of good comfort food the way your grandma used to make, but with a fresh, modern twist.  Their produce is sourced locally, ensuring that you’re getting only the best of what the area has to offer, and their pricing I thought was very affordable for the quality of food you’re getting.

Oh and get this, if you want to bring your own wine – they don’t even charge a corkage fee (although their wine selection is quite nice, so I doubt you’ll really need to).

I really loved their beautiful leather menu covers, so I decided that they just had to be photographed – plus you also get to give the menu a quick squiz:

Janine and I decided to share the mezze platter starter, and then for mains we both opted for the highly recommended Chalmar Beef fillet:

My favourite items here were the crispy aubergine sticks and the smoked snoek patè…

And then isn’t this just the sexiest piece of fillet you’ve ever seen? It’s quite a serving and also comes with additional side veg, so you should definitely come hungry for this one…

For dessert, it was a tough choice… I had my eye on the Vanilla Pod Panna Cotta for a while, also the very fresh sounding pavlova:

But in the end chocolate won and I opted for the dark chocolate fondant while Janine opted for the Brulée-style sago pudding:

Both beautifully presented & both very decadent…

They had a minor technical issue on the night, so they couldn’t play any background music.  But that aside, Helena’s has a beautiful, warm & welcoming atmosphere.  That fillet was absolutely incredible to the point where I wanted to lick my plate, and the service was friendly and attentive at all times.  I really loved this dinner experience.

The next morning I spent some quality time in that gorgeous tub of ours and then dug into their breakfast spread which was everything you’d expect from a boutique hotel of this caliber – fresh fruits, freshly bakes croissants and scones, a selection of beautiful meats & cheeses, some sweet things, followed by a hot breakfast of your choice.

Aah… it’s a tough life sometimes…

For my official Miss K Kiss-o-Meter ratings, I’m going to split it out as follows:

  • For my stay at Coopmanhuijs:  kiss3_smudge
    It’s a beautiful hotel & the location is perfect.  They offer free wifi.  The staff are extremely welcoming & attentive.  Everyone greets you with a big, warm smile.  That bathroom was heaven itself, but the one shortcoming for me was the size of the sleeping/living section of our room.  I personally like a bit of a view, or a space where I can step out, so I think had we been in one of the rooms with a balcony my thoughts would have been different.  I couldn’t help but feel that it fell just short of what I was expecting based on the hotel’s accolades.  That said though, there are still plenty of reasons why you should definitely consider this hotel for your next Stellenbosch stay.
  • For my dinner at Helena’s:  kiss4_smudge
    The food, the service, the wine, it was all really lovely.  I couldn’t find fault with anything, and I highly recommend that you book a table here soon.

To make a reservation at Helena’s you can contact the restaurant on: 021 883 3132
For Coopmanhuijs booking enquiries, do contact them on: 021 883-8207  or

I have to say a big thank you to both Helena’s & Coopmanhuijs for having us.  We left there very relaxed and with our skinny jeans just a little on the too-tight side. 😉


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