hotel inspired decor: delaire graff, south africa


The Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa is just one of many chic boutique hotels from around the world where the inspired décor of the inviting spaces is something you can take and apply to your own home – if only in subtle, yet beautiful ways. Travel should always be more than just bringing home souvenirs picked up at the airport.  Being inspired is a big part of the journey.

The Delaire Graff is one of those properties that the wannabees and pretentious will not enjoy.  It’s a subtle and refined hotel property where the visitors don’t have anything to prove.  Located in Stellenbosch, the lush rolling wine country only an hour outside of Cape Town, South Africa, it is the estate of Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds, who set about to combine art, hospitality and inspired design to create a jewel of a property nestled among the vineyards of his award winning estate.  But let’s focus people, we’re here for the interiors, not the stunning countryside vistas as experienced from the pool!

Now let’s set some ground rules – the idea of visiting contemporary design hotels is to take lessons from their inspiring spaces – not to copy them and rebuild them piece by piece at home.  African sculpture and art can fill rooms in South Africa to great effect, but it’s going to look odd in Connecticut where perhaps one great single piece is easier to work into your décor.


Graff-Hotel-South Africa

From the moment you step into the reception area at Delaire, the tone is set for what’s to come.  A fabulous modern hall table laden with fresh flowers greets the guest.  The carpet looks like some kind of Zen sand garden that has just been meticulously raked into fine parallel lines.  Dramatic African art hangs on the walls.  Your own entry should elicit similar gasps of awe.  If my home is, for example, an homage to Georgian England, then this hall table will not work, but if I’m channeling the modern era, then perfecto!  I also love to have a place in an entry hall for flowers.  Nothing says “welcome to my well appointed home” like fresh flowers.  They show that you’re a real details person.



A corner of a public space in the hotel brings a group of chairs together around a cocktail table in front of a roaring fireplace. In your own home, keep seating arrangements intimate to encourage conversation between guests, and always have a place close at hand ready to rest a drink.  The woven baskets filling the shelves on either side of the fireplace add a rustic touch to an otherwise very cosmopolitan room, and when you’re looking to bring something home as a souvenir, go with something like these traditional African baskets woven with strong zigzag patterns that make them a natural choice for a modern interior.


Graff-Hotel-South Africa

The sitting room of the owner’s lodge is done in shades of cream and white that truthfully would work as well on Martha’s Vineyard or Sanibel Island.  Great tips here – like hanging the walls in black and white art, be it photography or drawings.  This helps to unify the space and prevent clashes between the artwork.  The mix of tables is also another great tip.  Please, I beg you not to buy matching end tables or frankly anything else that’s matchy matchy.  Variety is the spice of life in interior design!



More often than not I hear potential clients say that they want their home to “feel like a hotel”.  I usually think that’s sad, but given the inspired interiors of this chic contemporary design hotel, I feel I can now start to get on board with that thought – ever so slightly!

richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa, South Africa.