Before December my interest in Roberston went as far as Springfield Wine Estate, and that wacky yellow farm stall on the R62 as you enter or a exit the town. Both of these features are genuine reasons to visit the wine town, but they only provide for a quick stop-off rather than a lingering visit. It was in December, however that I visited The Robertson Small Hotel, which offered new meaning to the small town in my mind with its paradoxical oasis, that somehow manages to quietly blend into it’s modest surroundings. Despite my previous sentiment with Robertson, there is much to do like Silverstream, wine farms and wineries, and many a hike for the activity-seeking traveler, or you could just totally indulge in idleness at The Robertson Small Hotel.
The stillness of the Robertson’s suburban streets lends itself to the tranquility of the hotel. Robertson, officially established in 1853, manages to still show off a large proportion of its old age, with Victorian and Edwardian country architecture and a punctuating tall steepled church in the town centre. It’s commercial value in wine remains hidden in these parts of the town but is unmissable on the main route with big names like Graham Beck and Van Loveron. Flora and fauna are also a prominent attraction, contributing to the Breede River Valley’s status as the ‘valley of wine and roses’.
A very affable greeting welcomed myself and boyfriend into the recently revamped hotel, with cheerful palm trees at the entrance setting the holiday mood up a few notches. The space has been revived head to toe with energetic art and accessories from local South African artists and designers and interior design by Studio Ashby in London. Much of the art on the walls was from Smith Studio in Cape Town, offering suitably subtle pieces for the pop-up gallery. There are also many bespoke design pieces made for the hotel, like the Pichulik key rings attached to each room key and the hand painted ceramic tiles of the EM Bar by Michael Chandler. They really do live up to their philosophy of taking note of the small things, every inch of the space has been meticulously considered.
We stayed in the Manor house, in a really large room with high ceilings and a spacious ensuite bathroom. The room had a lovely relaxed country feel with a seating area built into the Victorian-style bay windows. Tones of grey with textured and patterned accessories, contemporary steel lamps and stained dark wooden floors tied together a classic style with echoes of minimalism. The wide space and attention to detail in things like the protea printed gowns and fruity signature scent of the bathroom products, made the stay that extra bit luxurious. It’s these nuances that refine the whole experience, and really show how carefully a stay at the hotel as been thought out.
Since We were only there for a night, leaving the hotel wasn’t an option and between the pool, the restaurant, the bar and the spa, there really isn’t much reason to do so. Lounging at the pool involved gin and tonics and a charcuterie board, which gave us a taste of the restaurant which is a destination in itself.
Previously Ruben’s, The Small Restaurant follows the same gentle aesthetic of the hotel, with subdued colours, local art and mid-century chairs. A large scale tapestry by Renee Rossouw will instantly draw your eye, as will the painted ceramic lampshades. The menu was developed with Rose Ashbey of Spring Restaurant in London’s Somerset House who worked with head chef Tiaan van Greunen to create dishes, inspired by local ingredients and classic Italian cuisine.
Although we were their for a mere 24 hours, the effect of the hotel was lasting, a tranquility I hadn’t felt in a long time. The stillness of the hotel was all-consuming and a total luxury, not to mention the swimming pools, lush garden and veranda couches to immerse yourself in for hours. The little artistic niceties are an added perk, that give the old hotel youth and trend-appeal. And this coupled with years of character layered in the manor house walls, offer The Robertson Small Hotel distinction in a swarm of a luxury stays.