The pool overlooks the canals of Thesen Island, where you can have your meals, a glass of bubbly, or simply laze in the sun. Pic by Warren Fleming
Once a power station, this five-star hotel on Thesen Island acknowledges its origin by incorporating the old machinery, pipes and fixtures with a cool contemporary design softened by artworks curated by the Knysna Fine Art Gallery.

We’d arrived via plane and automobile; the SAA Airlink flight from Cape Town to George is short and sweet and the drive through Sedgefield and Wilderness is timelessly pretty.

Turbine is a suitable home base for your weekend in Knysna. Surrounded by canals and holiday homes, the area has a number of high-end boutiques, restaurants and a motorcycle museum close by. The Knysna Waterfront, filled with more (expensive) shops and restaurants alongside a yacht marina, is a short walk away.

Accommodation comprises luxury and standard rooms, a honeymoon suite, and two self-contained suites adjacent to the hotel. The rooms have been worked around the existing structure so they’re all different in shape and size, and individually decorated within certain themes. Mine was Room 111, The Elephant Room - a nod to the animals which once roamed in this region in abundance.

Dining options at the hotel include the Island Café Restaurant and the Gastro Pub for casual meals indoors and outside, as well as craft beers, wines and cocktails.

The deck has an infinity pool and is a lovely place to have your meals, which we did a couple of times.

When it comes to pursuits that are not eating, drinking and shopping, there are the Turbine Spa and the Turbine Water Club, which can be enjoyed separately by hotel guests and day visitors or as a package.

The Water Club offers a variety of water- and land-based activities including forest walks, city tours and bicycle hire. It also arranges lagoon cruises, which are an absolute must.

We embarked on one just before sunset on board one of the hotel’s two motorised pontoon barges. Fortified with bottles of bubbly on ice, a whole lot of snack platters, and our guide/captain/driver Monty, we headed out towards the famous Knysna Heads.

Back at the hotel, there are works of South African artists demanding to be admired. Curator Corlie de Kock says they are carefully selected to enhance the aesthetics.

Turbine Hotel & Spa truly is an unexpected and quirky combination of history, heritage, creativity and modernism.