One wouldn’t associate Somerset West with a tranquil oasis, or even a detox destination.
In fact, what comes to mind is a retirement home for the rich and affluent. But the once sleepy town has experienced a resurgence of interest. Somerset West has come out of retirement and is riding a renewed tourism wave.
It’s now home to some of the country’s award-wining restaurants and world-class golf courses.
And like all other misconceptions, it goes beyond the small town notion of being a one-trick pony because deep in the Helderberg valley lies Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa.
With a storied history, the main manor house was restored after a fire left it gutted in the 1950s.
The L-shaped buildings probably dated back to the early 1700s.
Today the original Cape Dutch influence is seen in the exposed wooden beams and manicured gardens.
You only get a sense of the estate’s rich history once you pull into the driveway and the unassuming manor house sits to the left, fielded by manicured lawns.
It’s amazing that a hotel that dates back so many years manages to maintain a contemporary look and style while holding onto its heritage.
The hotel rooms range from classic to luxury, but the pièce de résistance is the Erinvale Suite.
Offering a separate dining room and a lounge with a fireplace, it’s the ideal home away from home.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t my home away from home. Nope, I got seconded to a garden terrace room.
Nonetheless, it had some pretty impressive features, like the contemporary decor with touches of African-inspired art.
Another bonus was the in-room Nespresso coffee machine.
Dinner at Erinvale is quite the experience. Magnolia Social Dining Lounge is one of three restaurants on the estate. The soft ambient lighting along with bespoke furniture pieces makes you feel like you’re part of a scene in The Great Gatsby.
It’s clear that designer Clinton Savage has a flair for larger-than-life decor. It’s all about big, bold and fabulous colours.
The restaurant’s sharing plate menu has something for every type.
So, kudos to chef Stefan Bekker for creating dishes worthy of Instagram likes. Try the beef fillet and prawn risotto. You can thank me later. The point of enjoying some time away from home is to indulge in the things that bring you pleasure, and what is more pleasurable that spending a few hours at the spa?
Featuring four therapy rooms, the building looks out into an outdoor pool and patio.
There’s also an indoor relaxation room with heated whirlpool.
Erinvale may be a four-star hotel, but its welcoming staff and amenities are all five-star quality.
And judging by their rates (starting at R2100 per room per night, including breakfast), you’d be hard-pressed to find any other hotel of its calibre at that price.