Refurbished Suites and a New Energy in the Kitchen at Paarl’s Historic Grande Roche Hotel

Grande Roche Hotel

The new year has brought a burst of verve to the venerable Grande Roche Hotel in the Paarl winelands, with a stylish revamp of the popular Terrace Suites and a fresh new approach to dining courtesy of acclaimed chef Christiaan Campbell.

Blending the rich heritage of the hotel with a contemporary winelands aesthetic, the refurbishment of the 18 Terrace Suites at Grande Roche Hotel has created a chic new destination that offers an elegant home-from-home in the winelands.

“In refreshing the Terrace Suites we wanted to update the interiors without losing any of the charm of a country hotel,” explains local entrepreneur Theresa Britz, who owns Grande Roche Hotel with her husband Hansie. “The idea was to use the original elements where we could, but bring in new textures and colour. We also wanted each space to be as versatile as possible, whether guests are relaxing with a book, working on their laptop or enjoying a quiet meal in the privacy of their suite.”

To help them achieve their vision for the reinvention the couple turned to acclaimed interior designer Misi Overturf, who was also involved in the make-over of Grande Roche’s sister-property, the Agter-Paarl wine estate Under Oaks. Overturf is also the creative energy behind memorable interior flips on the restaurant make-over programme ‘In Die Sop’, hosted by Bertus Basson.

“This refurbishment was a process of finding the synergy between respectfully handling the old buildings, working with that character and keeping the integrity of the space, while updating the interiors,” explains Overturf. “I have a great love for heritage design, so my approach is really to colour in between the lines. I love old things, and the stories behind them, and we found a nice synergy between both of those elements.”

Set amid manicured lawns, indigenous gardens and rows of trellised vineyards, the Terrace Suites each boast a spacious bedroom, contemporary bathroom and newly remodelled lounge area.

The golden thread

Throughout the suites tiled floors have been replaced with luxuriant solid wood underfoot, while bespoke corner banquettes create a cosy nook for reading, dining or relaxing. Wall units handcrafted from solid ash wood are a golden thread tying the suites together, with remodelled bedroom cupboards creating a cohesive aesthetic through each suite.

“From the start, we intended to make the suites feel more homely, like a little cottage,” adds Overturf. “Each suite is dressed differently, working with the specific fynbos-inspired wallpapers and theme of the room. We then curated vintage art and paraphernalia to create a wonderfully cosy space where you can really feel at home.”

Supporting local design and craftsmen was also key in the reinvention. The overhead lamps that grace the cosy nook in each suite were sourced from a local lighting designer, while the ash wall units were completed by a Winelands joinery.

“It’s about creating character while working respectfully with what we have,” says Overturf. “There’s such a rich history at Grande Roche, and we want guests to feel like they are part of that heritage, but in a modern way.”

A fresh approach to Winelands dining

In step with the sensitive renovation of the Terrace Suites is a subtle evolution of the dining experience, with the arrival of chef and hospitality connoisseur Christiaan Campbell.

A highly respected chef and restaurateur, Campbell has helmed the kitchens at some of the Cape’s most famous winelands destinations, before joining Grande Roche in late-2023. Since his arrival, he has spent his time subtly reinventing the menu and cementing a new culinary approach to both service and dining.

“What’s key is a sense of welcome,” says Campbell. “We want people to realise that the restaurant is not just for in-house guests. It’s a space that welcomes locals living in Paarl surrounds, and people exploring the Winelands. In both our menus and our style of service we want to establish Grande Roche, and the restaurant, as a place that feels like a ‘home-from-Home’ and welcomes everyone.”

An all-day destination

Key to that evolution is the broadening of the menu offering, transforming Grande Roche into a truly all-day destination, from languid breakfast on the terrace or a mid-morning coffee meeting to a light lunch for business or leisure.

To that end Campbell recently launched a brand-new all-day menu, offering a selection of dishes perfectly suited for light lunches and more casual meals. Think salad of baby cos lettuce, plated with Caesar dressing, poached egg and avocado, or Campbell’s potato agnolotti served with Karoo Blue Cheese, candied pecan nuts and piquant pickled pear. Those with a heartier appetite will enjoy the prime cuts of grilled free-range beef, enriched by a sauce of mesquite espresso cream, while a selection of generous gourmet toasted sandwiches, all served on house-baked ciabatta, offer superb value for Winelands dining.

While the new menu showcases the versatility of Grande Roche as a destination for all-day dining, at dinner you’ll find that warm country welcome infused with a sense of culinary adventure. Campbell has long been passionate about produce, and the depth of flavour that local, seasonal ingredients impart on the plate. At Grande Roche, he brings that same focus to the evening menu of flavour-driven seasonal dishes.

Local sourcing. Global flavours.

“Throughout my career, I have always looked to find great ingredients – seasonal and local, and organic where possible – and work with those natural flavours to ensure they shine through in each dish. It’s the alchemic effect of chef and food, and creating a connection on the plate,” says Campbell. “From the suppliers we choose to partner with, and the way their food is produced, through to how we work with it in the kitchens and present it at your table. It’s all about connection.”

And while Campbell’s sourcing may be local, the inspiration for his evening menu is truly global. Though the menu evolves with the seasons, and the chef’s creativity, that could mean anything from a plate of pork potstickers – a vibrant infusion of Cantonese flavours – to seared gamefish channeling flavours of the subcontinent in its side of fresh papaya atchar. Contemporary continental notes shine through too: expect plates such as perfectly crisped pork belly with a nori jam glaze, or coffee-spiced springbok with pickled blueberries and blue cheese.

A sip of the Grande Dame

And to drink? While the wine list boasts a handpicked selection of releases from leading local estates, it now also includes a rather special release that offers the perfect pairing for diners on the Grande Roche terrace.

The aptly named ‘Grande Dame’ is crafted from the micro-vineyards planted in front of the historic manor house. Replanted in 2019 with 60/40 parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the plantings define the blend of this limited-edition release. Crafted by winemaker Bertus Fourie – who also helms the cellar at Under Oaks – it’s a wine that celebrates the bold, fruit-forward character of the Paarl Winelands.

Notably, Grande Dame is the first of a series of boutique releases planned for Grande Roche, with small parcels of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo planted for future Mediterranean-inspired blends.

Pickleball and the power of the sun

But it’s not only the décor or the dining experience that has been reimagined at Grande Roche.

With a post-pandemic boom in leisure travel, particularly amongst multi-generational and family travellers, the hotel has used the opportunity to revitalise its leisure offerings. Alongside the exclusive spa, and a choice of swimming pools, guests can now try their hand at a sport that is fast developing a loyal following in South Africa: pickleball.

One of the estate’s tennis courts has been converted into three pickleball courts, with equipment and balls available for resident guests.

“We’ve seen Padel become enormously popular in South Africa, and pickleball is riding that same wave,” explains Johann Bouwer, General Manager of Grande Roche Hotel. “But because it’s played on a much smaller court it is a game that any age can play, which makes it wonderfully accessible for both families and older travellers.”

Grande Roche has also invested heavily in sustainable green energy, with the installation of an innovative solar array that provides shaded parking for guests and staff, while generating carbon-free electricity.

“Our alternative energy solution currently produces more than half of our normal electricity demand, with an extensive battery system providing substantial amounts of back-up power,” adds Bouwer. “Aside from reducing our dependence on the national grid, and ensuring a reliable power supply for our guests, we are thrilled to be able to lower our overall environmental impact.”

And 2024 will also see the estate become a hub for sustainability-minded road-trippers, with the installation of state-of-the-art vehicle charging stations allowing guests to recharge their vehicles using pure sunlight. The BMW-branded charging stations will offer universal connectors, catering for various models of electric vehicles.

The Grande Roche will once again be offering their popular out of season,  Pearl of Paarl Accommodation package, which is valid from 1 May 2024 – 31 August 2024.

The package is priced at R5960.00 for two people and includes:

  • One night’s accommodation for two guests sharing and accommodated in a newly renovated Terrace Suite. (Full English Breakfast included).
  • A four-course dinner experience by Chef Christiaan Campbell at The Grande Roche Restaurant.
  • A bottle of Under Oaks estate wine of your choice to be enjoyed with dinner.

The Grande Roche Hotel is located at 1 Plantasie Street, Paarl.

For booking enquiries, email  or call +27 (21) 863 5100. Also enquire about the Grande Afternoon Tea offering.