I was recently invited to spend a weekend at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and 5-star lodge just past Gansbaai (about 2 hours out of Cape Town). Grootbos has views of the sea, hills and their much-beloved fynbos, all of which will blow your mind.
Goodbye CT, I’m going to live at Grootbos
We dropped off our bags in our spacious room with a comfy lounge, gorgeous balcony, kitchenette, massive bed and bathroom. A flight of stairs led off the balcony, to a smaller separate room – perfect if you have teens staying with you who need some space away from mom and pops.
For lunch we sat on the hotel deck overlooking the pool and the sea. I thought it was one of the best lunchtime views I’d experienced, until the very next day… but I’ll get to that just now.
To start we headed over to the buffet, where we had our pick of delicious, fresh salads and fresh bread.
We then had a Beef, Rocket and Mushroom Wrap with a side salad and Seafood Rice Ragout. The wrap was thin and crisp, with a delicious blend of tender beef, earthy mushrooms and fresh peppery rocket. The ragout was hearty and very well seasoned, with a tomato base, fresh herbs and lemon. We then shared a light Vanilla Parfait with fresh fruits. From the get-go, the food at Grootbos is refreshingly simple and sophisticated, without even a hint of pretension.
After scanning the list of activities on offer, we decided to go on a self-guided forest walk and then a guided tour of the beachside caves. These enormous, magnificent craters were homes to people thousands of years ago. We also learnt that the area has such a high water level, you can dig down into the beach sand and drink fresh water.
After sunset it got a little chilly, so we sat inside by the fireplace for our 6-course dinner.
The Amuse Bouche was crusty bread topped with roughly chopped warm veg tapanade. We both had the Poached Prawn and Avocado Tian. A chunky salsa packed fresh tomato, onion and a little chilli, topped with smooth avo and a poached prawn, on a crisp bruschetta – fresh, sharp and delicious.
Next up was Butternut Soup, which reminded me of home, with just a hint of curry to balance the sweetness. I had Spicy Tom Yum Soup, which was JUST my kinda thing. In the clear, salty broth were prawns, mushrooms, coriander, chilli, baby peas and lots of lemon – just as it should be.
After a pineapple and dill palate cleanser, we shared:
Seafood Potage with broccoli and cauliflower florets. I thought it was going to be more of a stew, but although delicious, it was more of a soup than expected. The line fish and prawns were perfectly cooked, but needed a salt and a carb of some sort. It just felt incomplete.
The Polenta Disk with Goat’s Cheese Fondue on the other hand, was amazing. The perfectly cooked and seasoned disks, were stacked with asparagus and goat’s cheese, then surrounded with a goats cheese sauce. This vibrant cheese was a great accompaniment to the simple polenta.
Finally we had a stunning Chocolate Torte, which was rich and moreish, as well as a Cheese Platter with homemade compote.
The next day we woke up bright and early and went for a horse ride. It was lovely to see the area by horseback, and learn about the history of the place. I may have also gotten side-tracked by the kiddies petting zoo, complete with pigs, lambs, chickens and more. I almost took a baby rabbit home with me, before I was dragged away to breakfast.
Breakfast consisted of a full buffet of cereals, fruits, cold meats, cheeses, baked goods and more. And of course I ate almost everything. My friend then had the Full English Breakfast and I had the Farm Breakfast where all the produce are grown and reared on a farm sponsored by Grootbos. (Although I messed it all up by swapping bacon for salmon. Oops).
After a morning by the pool, we were ready to eat again. This time we took a picnic basket down to the beach. Beef wraps, roasted veg pasta and a thai prawn salad – a delicious lunch, with the most beautiful view EVER.
Grootbos is stunning. Not only is it stunning, but it is stunning without being garish or pretentious. Let’s be honest, I couldn’t afford to pop down there as often as I would like, but with their great specials I can definitely go every now and then. (Especially the “Last Minute Special” where if you book within 48 hours of arrival, you get 50% off any available room.)
Grootbos is just two hours away, but I felt like I was in another universe. A universe I would like to go live in forever.
PS: Just before dinner we took a detour to the spa for a relaxing massage. It was just amazing. If only every meal could begin like that.