A few weeks ago I escaped a hectic schedule and another freezing cold front to visit the quaint town of McGregor for the first time. I had been invited to stay at the lovely Temenos Retreat where chef Christiaan Campbell and his wife Moya have slowly been invigorating the hospitality offering over the last two years. It was a balm for my soul and I discovered so much about this stunning little village.
Temenos Retreat is a place of tranquillity and renewal in the heart of the picturesque village. A sanctuary nestled amidst the majestic Langeberg Mountains, and a haven for those seeking respite from the bustling pace of everyday life. Temenos Retreat offers a unique experience of relaxation, rejuvenation, and self-discovery.
The accommodation is designed to provide comfort while embracing charm and simplicity, reminding me of a typical pensione in Europe. From cosy cottages with thatched roofs to elegant suites, each lodging option is tastefully decorated with a touch of rustic appeal and a few spiritual elements from the owner Billy’s journeys abroad. We stayed in the larger house which had a kitchen and outside braai area, and we loved the fireplaces in the freezing winter chill.
Temenos Retreat is much more than just a holiday destination; it is a place of spiritual awakening and introspection. The word “Temenos” itself, derived from ancient Greek, refers to a sacred space or sanctuary where one can find solace and inspiration. The serene atmosphere and lush gardens dotted with olive trees create a perfect setting for introspection and self-reflection.
The gardens are open to the public unless the venue is closed for a private retreat or function. They can host weddings and other types of corporate or private functions and gatherings. I loved the resident peacocks who have been living in the garden since it opened in 1996. They gracefully glide around unfazed by any humans.
McGregor is great for walking. Either around the town or more serious hikes on the trails. The region is rich in biodiversity and is the start or end point for the famous Greyton to McGregor hike.
Christiaan Campbell has revitalized Tebaldi’s restaurant at Temenos Retreat, embracing the ethos of sourcing fresh, local produce and supporting ethical suppliers. The staff are all from the local community where they have been trained from the ground up and so much energy has been put into their personal and professional development.
The dinner menu can be described as refined country cuisine and is fairly compact but changes frequently, offering contemporary takes on classic dishes. You can enjoy small but wholesome portions, with options to mix and match as starters or mains.
The desserts are a must-try, and we loved the baked chocolate fondant covered in a blanket of perfectly whipped cream and the vanilla crème brulee with shortbread. The wine list predominantly features wines from the Breede River Valley.
The restaurant’s setting in an old building with flagstone floors and exposed beams adds to its charming country feel, and guests can dine inside or in the garden (weather dependant). A daytime ‘il Piccolo’ menu is available and can be enjoyed in either Tebaldi’s, on the patio or in the Out of Africa coffee shop space.
About Mc Gregor
We loved exploring the quaint village of McGregor, known for its warm hospitality and artistic community. We popped into shops and art galleries and met so many locals and their dogs by name. Our visit coincided with their weekly Saturday market next to the Church. They also run monthly markets too.
McGregor hosts numerous events and festivals that celebrate the spirit of the town. We arrived as strangers on Thursday and left as friends on Sunday.
Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and stark but breathtaking landscapes, McGregor has so much to offer that showcases the region’s natural beauty and unique charm. We went on a drive to the end of the road to nowhere and took in the amazing views. Stopped in at Lords Winery which has a newly opened restaurant which we will try next time.
We loved a Middle Eastern-infused dinner at The Fat Lady’s Arms on our second night which I can highly recommend. The owner Kurt does an internationally inspired small-plate menu and their cosy bar is the perfect place to drop in for a drink or snack. In addition to their sit-down menu, they churn out the town’s best wood-fired pizzas.
Where to have breakfast or coffee in Mc Gregor:
Out of Africa Café at Temenos Retreat
51 Cafe – This is a stylish café which some say is the best breakfast spot in town. They have a small but innovative menu.
The Blend Deli – Benita, the lovely owner is dedicated to making the perfect cup of coffee and has a well-stocked deli with loads of delicious produce from local artisans. This is the place to stock up on goodies if you wanted to make a feast at home. Her back courtyard garden with a large pond is a spacious and lovely place to relax with a cuppa in.
Best pub in McGregor:
We visited 3 pubs whilst in McGregor and Jimmy’s by far the best. We had a very fun night and far too many drinks with the loveliest people.
Be sure to stop in at Bemind, the cutest little garagiste winery and do a tasting.
McGregor promises an unforgettable experience that lingers in the heart long after departure. I can’t wait to go back. It’s known to be the best-kept secret in the Western Cape.