Blissing out at the sea and in the veld
Bush and beach breakaways may seem like polar opposites, but here in SA you can tick both boxes in one trip. We spent a week away blissing out in Plettenberg Bay and Inzolo Lodge – a world-class local getaway and road trip, worth every penny!
Coasting along the Garden Route…
Truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of Plett. Having only ever spent time there during December, it seemed like an overcrowded, overhyped beach town – why would you mill around with the masses when there were so many other beautiful Garden Route options close by? But this visit changed my mind. In the off-season it’ idyllically peaceful: I can’t wait to return.
Destinations are important but a road trip up the N2 has the unique ability to transport your headspace, and fast. By the time you reach your holiday spot you’re fully relaxed.
The route from Cape Town to The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa boasts a few quintessential road trip views and
experiences: the unbeatable Garden Route landscape dotted with little sheep families, mountains in earthy hues at the edge of the horizon and a stop in Riviersonderend for a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth springbok pie and Bootlegger cappuccino at Ou Meul Bakkery for breakfast. And if you don’t have a good hat for your bush break, the little shop next door to the bakery has some exquisite but affordable panama-style hats with adjustable strings on the inside for a snug fit.
Boutique Hotel Living: The Old Rectory Hotel & Spa…
We arrived at The Old Rectory just in time for a late lunch at the boutique hotel’s restaurant (more on that later).
The beautifully restored heritage building, which dates back to 1777, is the oldest structure in Plettenberg Bay. It morphed from being a schoolhouse to a blacksmith’s workshop to a rectory for the Anglican church, and now the original building houses a fine dining restaurant, a bar and a reception area. The original yellowwood floors and trusses have been preserved to celebrate the building’s innate historical charm and the restored fireplace makes for a very cosy spot to enjoy a glass (or two) of red wine.
I loved the attention to detail – the bathroom in the reception area is exquisite, with a palm-leaf roof fan and covetable wallpaper. The local artworks are also carefully curated: don’t miss the display of small sculptures of a woman in different yoga poses on the wall outside, and the vertical garden next to the pool deck.
The infinity pool is a central feature separating the 18 rooms, the spa and the original main building. The sound of water is all around: if you’re not close anough to hear the constant trickling of the pool, you are always in earshot of the ocean, which is only a couple of metres from the hotel.
Eat & drink
If you’re in Plett and staying elsewhere, be sure to eat at the restaurant here – it’s open to the public and so worth it. The menu is unpretentious but impressive, showcasing local, seasonal ingredients. (Keep in mind that the menu changes as the ingredients’ availability does.) The mushroom risotto, crispy
Asian-style pork belly salad (on the lunch menu) and the panna cotta were seriously delicious.
The breakfasts are just as delectable: freshly baked croissants, eggs Benedict and fresh fruit, tasty crunchy homemade granola and more. And if you’re after a sundowner or nightcap, the bar is an experience – gorgeous fabrics cover the chairs and they have an excellent selection of gins.
I’m not exaggerating when I say I had one of the best massages of my life here. Therapist Bessie did an excellent job of the Moya Crystal Massage balancing treatment. I don’t like intense pressure massages, and this was just the right balance of soft touch and gentle pressure. The spa is scented with calming essential oils and the Moya products used for the treatments. I left there in a relaxed trance – highly recommended!
A major benefit of our stay at The Old Rectory was how close it is to Central Beach and Robberg – a short walk from both! I even went for an early-morning run along the 4km stretch of beach, meeting locals and their dogs (and lots of friendly seagulls) along the way. For serious walkers, there’s also the Robberg hiking trail – I opted for relaxing in the pool instead.
Pit stop: Kay and Monty Vineyards
After unwinding at the beach, we headed off on the next leg of the trip, to be spent in the Eastern Cape bushveld. But not without a proper pit stop, of course – lunch at Kay and Monty Vineyards. It was pouring with rain, so their roaring fire, satisfying platters and beautiful wines were just what we needed. The Crags, which is the area between Plett and Nature’s Valley where the vineyard is situated, is well worth a day trip if you’re in the area.
Clockwise from this pic: The tranquil Inzolo plunge pool overlooking the rock face that inspired their logo design; the breathtaking view from Inzolo’s main area; lunch at Kay and Monty Vineyards
Clockwise from top left: LookingInto Your Sky – a sculpture by Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe; the bright and airy Old Rectory room; me in the infinity pool; the amazing bathroom.This pic: Taking a stroll on Robberg beach. Below: A deliciously fresh Old Rectory breakfast.
Left: Lunch at Kay and Monty Vineyards – worth a day trip (as is the fireplace)!Right: Later we stopped to say hello to the horses along the road. From the pool deck to the spa and rooms, the Old Rectory is a sanctuary in every sense.