A few Saturdays on an unseasonably cold day I headed to Robertson for a blissful 24 hours at The Robertson Small Hotel. Tucked away in a leafy part of town you will find a grand old Victorian house that was converted into the cutest boutique hotel. The guest areas are adorned with an amazing selection of contemporary local art which compliment the beautiful interiors. I loved everything about this gorgeous property that is effortlessly luxurious whilst still feeling very homely. The Robertson Small Hotel is the only 5-star hotel in Robertson and the perfect place to escape the world for a bit.
Legendary chef Chris Erasmus (ex Foliage) is the Head Chef at the Small. He has undertaken a programme of mentorship and training with their team of chefs as well as foraging expeditions in the Robertson Valley. I was lucky to tag along on my visit and see how he very quickly moves along the riverbank to fill a basket with herbs, flowers, and wild vegetables to use across the menu. I was so surpprised to see fennel growing wild and am inspired to take more notice of edible plants in my surrounds.
The Small Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with all bookings by appointment for non-guests. There is seating both inside the Manor House and on the patio beside the hotel gardens. A classic menu with refined seasonal dishes elevating the best in local produce is served alongside a selection of wines from the Robertson valley. We enjoyed a memorable and deliciously unusual dinner.
STINGING NETTLE & SPINACH RAVIOLI NUDI, AFRICAN SOUP
VEGETABLE STEAMED BUN, TURMERIC CAULIFLOWER VELOUTÉ, CHARRED LEEKS (VEGAN)
SMOKED TOMATO & ROSEMARY RISOTTO
ALMOND ROASTED WILD PRAWNS, SAFFRON GNOCCHI, BUTTERNUT VELOUTÉ, CURRY OIL
OAK BBQ BEEF BRISKET, CHARRED LETTUCE, GARDEN GREENS, BONE BROTH
ROASTED PORK BELLY, BRUSSEL SPROUTS, RED CABBAGE MARMALADE, GARDEN HERB & PINE NUT SALSA VERDE, CORN
PAN-FRIED CAULIFLOWER STEAK, POMEGRANATE EMULSION, CHARRED BEETROOT, ROASTED ALMONDS
PAN-ROASTED SEA BASS, PRAWNS, MUSSELS, TOM YUM VELOUTÉ
GRILLED BEEF FILLET, WILTED GARDEN GREENS, SMOKED BEEF DRIPPINGS
PAN-ROASTED RIVER TROUT, MILLET, CHARRED BROCCOLI, VADOUVAN JUS
The Robertson Small Hotel has a quaint Wellness Room (spa) tucked away and I can highly recommend treating yourself to a relaxing massage. Although the property has only 10 rooms, a restaurant and a bar, two separate pool areas, there is ample garden and patio spaces to escape to and feel private in. Sadly the temperature was just too chilly for a swim because I would have loved to step directly from my hotel room into the pool that runs alongside the pool suites. The service at the hotel was remarkable, especially from the guest relations and management side.
Designer Sophie Ashby redecorated the hotel in 2016 each of the 10 rooms each has its own character, with custom artworks and designs from an innovative list of collaborators to bring colour, warmth and soul to the building. I loved the EM bar which features Michael Chandler’s hand-painted blue and white tiles.
With The Robertson Small Hotel’s ethos of supporting and celebrating contemporary art from South Africa, a partnership formed in 2021 with Art Gazette x Norval Foundation elevates this commitment to new heights. The new collections are curated by talented South African artist, Morné Visagie, who is also the co-founder of Art Gazette, an alternative online art platform for curating collections of art. Art Gazette partnered with Norval Foundation in 2019 to present a range of accessible artworks for both new and established collectors with original artworks by over 400 emerging and established contemporary artists.
Robertson is my favourite wine region in the Western Cape because it houses so many wine farms that I adore and is off-the-beaten-track so tends to be less touristy. Stopping in to do wine tasting at these farms tops the long list of activities to fill your time in the area.
These are a few of the food & wine farms I highly recommend you visit when you’re in the Robertson Valley:
De Wetshof Estate, Springfield, Marbrin Olives, La Mont Cheese, Esona, Silverthorn & Graham Beck.
The Robertson Small publishes their ‘Small Guide’ which is a detailed list of all the things to do in Robertson.
*I was invited as a guest of The Robertson Small Hotel
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