I was recently lucky enough to visit the beautiful Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa in Knysna for a nights stay over as part of a trip that I was doing down to the area with my family.
The hotel is located on the upmarket Thesen Island precinct – which plays home to a number of beautiful Cape Cod styled homes and a number of superb stores and restaurants – quite the luxurious area indeed. I really love that you can walk around the island as well as into town from the hotel, should you wish. It is really safe and secure, however, can get super busy in the holiday season of course.
The Turbine Hotel is a boutique 5-star hotel that was initially dubbed as a very ‘ambitious project’ however the designer and architects pulled it off – they literally transformed an old power station into a modern and upmarket hotel, keeping a number of the machinery items and station parts intact. Old signs and bits and bobs cover the walls in the bar and I feel is a great way to keep the history of the island and Knysna alive for the younger generation.
Most of the machinery has been lovingly restored to its almost former glory and is now encased in glass for visitors to gaze upon – or even walk over – as is the case in the hotel foyer, where underneath a glass panel in the floor you can look down to artefacts below your feet.
The hotel has only 26 rooms in total – of which seventeen are standard rooms, six luxury rooms, there is also a honeymoon suite, and two self-contained suites which are right next door – allowing self-catering and a more homey feel.
I stayed in the honeymoon suite and I must say it was quite the experience! From a super easy and friendly check-in, my bag was already whisked upstairs and awaited me in the room, to the lovely staff who took me for a look around and guided me up to my suite – the service was certainly on pointe.
The suite was comfy and I loved that the ‘industrial’ feel of exposed brickwork and wooden laminate flooring – yet the room and its decor were not cold in any way. The little kitchenette also had some old gauges and machinery items in it, and a big bright artwork of fishermen on the pier, along with plump leather couches and chairs, and voluminous curtains helped to fill the space perfectly and the view out over the pool deck and the canal was stunning.
The minibar was perfectly stocked (yup, they even have bubbles in there for people like me) and the en suite bathroom was an absolute treat with double basins, bath, shower and separate loo (always a plus if you are sharing a room).
My family joined me for a pre-dinner drink or three at the Gastro Pub, where we reclined on plump, comfy couches and enjoyed a beer on tap (and for the ladies – pink G&T’s on tap – man they are potent). Luckily we all made it down to dinner in one piece although it was only one floor down!
Dinner is served in the downstairs Island Cafe, which is the perfect mishmash of furniture and decor and seats 90 guests. Nothing really matches, and in a way, it works perfectly.
The artworks, which form part of a ‘moving’ art display adorn the walls and fit perfectly with the eclectic feel of the hotel – and feature some incredible South African artists such as painter Jenny Parrsons, Aidon Westcott, Jan Schutte, Jonathan Silverman, Arjan van Arendonk, Krisjan Rossouw, Marie Kearney, photographer Glen Green, John Michael Meterlerkamp and Brandon Z Perkus.
Back to the food! Lamb shank for my brother in law, which he says was done to perfection and falling off the bone and my sister who is a vegetarian raved about her mushroom Gnocci. Trying to be healthy, I stuck to a piece of delicious pan-fried hake with a side salad – which for R 45 I thought was a bargain – or maybe I am just used to Joburg prices!
The restaurant looks out over the canal, and on the other side the pool deck and the next morning I opted to have breakfast on the other side of the restaurant to look out over the pool – and what a view, I must say.
The breakfast offers a buffet selection of cold meats, cheeses, pastries, juices etc – and hot meals are ordered off the menu. I pulled a sneaky and ordered my favourite hotel breakfast item – Eggs Benedict, which was truly superb.
Although I didn’t get time to visit – The Turbine Spa is one of the finest on the Garden Route I have been told and receives rave reviews from its visitors – they also have a Rhassoul Steam Room, which is great for detoxing after travelling.
The hotel serves as the perfect base for exploring Knysna, and the offerings are so vast, however, if you love boating and watersports, then this is the town for you. The history of the town is also very intriguing and do make sure that you visit The Heads for the best view (and those IG snaps of course). I really cannot wait to visit this hotel again, and I hope its not in the to foreseeable future either.
A: The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa, Sawtooth Lane, Thesen Islands, Knysna
T: 044 302 5746
All photos are my own.