The Lofts Boutique Hotel on Knysna’s Thesen Island makes an ideal base from which to explore this quaint seaside town. We spent two nights enjoying the sights, sunshine and seafood that this Garden Route destination has to offer – although admittedly, things were very quiet as the town is still in the process of reawakening after South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown.
Part of Cape Country Routes‘ portfolio, The Lofts Boutique Hotel features uninterrupted views out over the lagoon, sleek interiors and a communally cosmopolitan dining area, pool and spa. Located on Thesen Island, the hotel is conveniently situated – not too close and not too far from Knysna’s centre. We had the pleasure of experiencing one of the top-floor tower suites; a detail that I particularly enjoyed as the height afforded us views out over the lagoon. Golden sunsets and sunrises tinged with pearly pink were witnessed from a cosy room replete with kingsize bed, rain shower and underfloor heating. The Lofts haven’t lost their maritime origins, as the hotel used to be the island’s boat-building heart and designations of the old slipway can still be seen on the marsh.
Set around a central courtyard that houses various shops and the hotel’s restaurant, The Lofts offers guests breakfast, lunch and dinner while the in-house spa – Le Spa Tranquille – caters to relaxation and a spot of pampering. We indulged in our very first couple’s massage session and I can certainly recommend a treatment or two during your stay. For indulging of a different sort, no visit to Knysna would be replete without a meal at île de païn. Executing very good bread even before the concept of artisan entered the culinary sphere, île de païn bakes up their famed loaves, pastries and Pasteis de Nata daily and one is spoiled for choice when the time comes for deciding what to take home.
From a food perspective, Knysna holds happy memories for me, as this is where my family would spend many a Christmas holiday. We’d drive through from my grandparents’ house in Wilderness, stopping off at the Wild Oats Farmer’s Market in Sedgefield before heading through to the (all too oft) bustling town to visit 34° South. Although not the most grandiose of eateries, I always enjoyed choosing from their mezze menu, sampling my very first taste of pickled octopus and taramasalata. Unfortunately the restaurant as since ditched their Mediterranean menu, succumbing to the distinctly South African concept of offering absolutely everything from Italian pizza, pasta and tramezzini to curry, paella, peri peri chicken and yes, sushi. We ordered the sushi which was delicious but I really do miss the romance of a curtly cultivated menu.
What with it being lockdown, most restaurants remained closed and so I will need to return to Knysna to properly sample what’s on offer.
In an attempt to work off some of those calories, we put on our hiking shoes (I’m loving my pair from local brand ROF Style) and did the waterfall walk from Jubilee Creek in the Knysna’s Goudveld forest. The site of a 19th century gold rush, Jubilee Creek is a popular walking spot thanks to it’s tea-brown streams, massive yellow wood trees and old mines. The area falls part of SANParks, so allow for a small entrance fee to enjoy the untouched forests and wildlife. We were fortunate enough to have multiple sightings of the famous Knysna Loerie, as well as spot little buck, mongooses and birds of prey.
As travel reopens, small independent hotels and guesthouse are looking to us to assist in rebuilding our local tourism trade up again. I can’t stress enough the importance of travelling locally, sharing your great experiences and supporting small scale restaurants, accommodation and businesses along the way. Use any excuse to get out and about in South Africa this summer!