I’ve become so used to the bare essentials that I often forget how very nice it is to be pampered. Having spent just a night radiating in the unadulterated luxury that is the Steenberg Hotel & Spa I’ve subsequently found it difficult to assimilate back into normal life. The boutique hotel has recently undergone a major upgrade and with it has introduced all manner of contemporary comforts – no mean feat when one considers the rich history of the farm that bears the Steenberg name.
Updated in a tastefully respectful style that aims to revitalise guest experiences, the hotel has retained it’s 17th century opulence via the stately Manor House and it’s Heritage Suites, the self-contained and sun-splashed Barn Rooms and the original stables which have since been converted into modern Premier Suites with new bathrooms and extended private patios. Breathtaking views of the original farm werf, the vineyards or the surrounding mountain can be enjoyed from every vantage – a detail that complements the tactile luxury of the hotel itself. Featuring 24 rooms in total, the hotel makes the perfect hideaway for those seeking peace and privacy. Whether visiting as a couple or family, there are rooms designed to cater to each guest’s individual requirements. Six years in the making, the revamp is the vision realised of general manager Catherine Schulze, whose impeccable taste and foresight has resulted in a hotel that offers every modernity while still having it’s roots firmly entrenched in colourful Cape history.
Nestled in the leafy Constantiaberg amphitheatre, Steenberg is the Western Cape’s oldest registered farm – granted by governor Simon van der Stel to Catharina Ras in 1682. On the note of Catharina – the headstrong and fiercely independent founder of Steenberg – the farm has recently unveiled it’s new signature restaurant, Tryn. Named in honour of this extraordinary woman, the eatery is headed by Chef Kerry Kilpin – another powerhouse in her own field. Spacious and elegant-attired, the interiors at Tryn are plushly furnished, with bright jewel tones providing pops of colour against blonde wood and slate grey walls. Velvet booths and orb lighting give a playful nod to the 1960s whilst Tryn’s towering geometrically panelled bar could be straight out of a Fitzgerald novel. The menu however is all modern – with dishes prepared with Chef Kerry’s signature Asian and Mediterrean twists.
After a welcome sip of the estate’s sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, it was time to get better acquainted with the bill of fare.
For starters we enjoyed Steak Tartare – meltingly tender beef beautifully plated in pickled daikon with sesame, ginger, soy and a gloriously plump confit quail’s egg – along with seared scallops on a bed of pea puree with crispy cumin fritters and a vanilla bean velouté and Tryn’s own Caesar Salad with juicy gem lettuce, crisp pork belly, Spanish white anchovies and a lusciously oozy poached egg.
Eager to sample both meat and fish, for mains we opted for the beef fillet with potato fondant, mustard mousseline, mushroom chutney and the most delectably silky Cognac and black pepper jus and the ABALOBI-sourced Cape Bream perfectly seared over an aubergine parcel with butternut, coriander, harissa and rose petal. Albeit strong flavours to pair with fish, the robust meatiness of Cape Bream was deliciously complimented by the Middle Eastern ingredients.
As far as wine goes, it would be tantamount to insulting to not sample some of Steenberg’s own cultivars. We shared a bottle of their 2018 Rattlesnake Sauvignon Blanc – it’s well-rounded acidity and lingering mineral finish where particularly pleasing alongside the dominating Asian flavours of the meal.
But it was the dessert course that really stood out for me – I indulged in Tryn’s Burnt Passionfruit Namelaka – a textural delight that managed to evoke nostalgia whilst being unquestionably contemporary. Notes of sweet-sour granadilla – the namelaka itself creamy and yet gelatinous – were paired with icy mango sorbet and shatteringly delicate honeycomb that I essentially inhaled. Definitely not one for sharing!
Not only home to Tryn, Steenberg’s popular Bistro Sixteen82 offers diners a more informal experience with a dinner menu specialising in fusion-style tapas made to share. Although still satiated from my lunch at Tryn, I took one for the team and managed to partake in the bistro’s excellent croquettes, arancini, chicken livers and potstickers – all washed down with Steenberg’s Fleet range 2019 Ruby Rosé.
For those with an afternoon free, Steenberg Hotel caters to every sort of pleasure-seeker. From pedicures by the pool to a stroll through the vineyards to a decompressing spa visit, guests are encouraged to indulge in ultimate relaxation. An oasis of a swimming pool provides heliophiles with a sunny spot, with an adjacent lounge on offer for those wanting a poolside massage or manicure. The Steenberg Spa has recently had a facelift of its own, with a brand new couples’ therapy room and a tranquil outdoor treatment area in a scented garden giving guests the chance to reconnect, unwind and relax in the hands of skilled therapists.
For those that unwind in a different way, a curated wine tasting at Steenberg’s own tasting room is an activity I simply could not miss. Especially celebrated for their MCC, Steenberg’s partnership with Graham Beck has resulted in a range of jubilantly effervescent wines – each with their own distinct character. I was particularly fond of the Steenberg 1682 Pinot Noir MCC NV for it’s smooth creamy texture, bright fruit notes and blushing pink hue. When it comes to wine, I waxed lyrical over the 2016 Nebbiolo – a robust Italian wine first imported to South African shores by Steenberg winemakers in 1992 – and the Magna Carta – an iconic Bordeaux-style white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon whose complexity and honeyed citrus notes had me dreaming of a summer spent sipping exclusively on this varietal.
A mere 30 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, one really feels world’s away from city life, in the midst of vineyards adored with spring growth and iceberg roses nodding gently in the breeze. Whether it be golf, spa treatments, wine or like me – another chance with that namelaka – Steenberg Hotel & Spa is truly unparalleled for the ultimate in gentile hedonism.