Grand Cafe & Rooms

Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route & Eastern Cape, South Africa Book from

Reviewed by Jo Duxbury
A boho extravaganza with a French-style restaurant, 7 romantic rooms and an unbeatable location in the heart of Plettenberg Bay
Sink into a red velvet sofa in the book-lined library, soak in the bath by the light of a candelabra, or sip a G&T on the ocean-facing terrace as the sun sets… at the Grand, you can’t help but do things in style. Even the beds here are majestic - high enough to require stepping on a footstool to climb into them.

Every square inch of this buzzy hotel, situated at the end of Main Street in Plettenberg Bay (one of the main hubs along the Garden Route), is decorated and styled; minimalist, it’s not. Each of the 7 rooms has a special feature - sea-view balconies in some, courtyards with outdoor showers in others - and all have decadent roll-top tubs. In the common areas (restaurant, small spa, courtyard with pool), eclectic collections of curios and trinkets cover every shelf, bringing to mind exotic places and encounters with fascinating people. The overall look is shabby chic meets bohemian world traveller, with a dash of cabaret glamour - ideal for couples who want to be near the action and stay in quirky, unusual accommodation.

Highs

  • The view of the coast and Outeniqua Mountains from the terrace and some rooms is fantastic
  • It’s in a great location. You can walk to shops, bars, restaurants and the beach, and wildlife sanctuaries and nature trails are only a short drive away
  • The Grand Café has a cosy, romantic ambiance and delicious food
  • The huge, high beds are fun and very comfortable (and most are extra-long, too)
  • We loved the seductive Bath House room, with its twin tubs and private plunge pool

Lows

    Some rooms seem more shabby than chic, interiors are quite dark, and the Grand branding (think framed Grand posters in every room) can be overwhelming
  • Parking is on the street only, but you’ll be given a card for your dashboard to avoid fines
  • There’s no air-conditioning in the rooms, and ensuites are open-plan
  • There’s some traffic noise, and sound carries from the stairwells and adjacent rooms
  • No under 12s are accepted - it’s aimed squarely at couples

Best time to go

Summer is from December to April, with the peak season from mid-December to March. There are 3 times more people in Plett over Christmas and New Year, which makes restaurant reservations and parking harder than usual. Perhaps avoid the town in early December, when it’s inundated with high-school leavers (although they’re unlikely to be staying at the Grand). Winter (May-September) is quieter and cooler, and whale-watching season is July-November. The Plett MAD (Music, Arts and Drama) Festival coincides with the Knysna Oyster Festival in June.

Our top tips

There are several wine estates within easy driving distance, some with restaurants showcasing fresh produce and local seafood - ask staff for recommendations and help booking transport so that you can enjoy tastings.

Great for...

Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • Ages 12+ only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room: Room 5

Rooms

What’s lovely about the Grand is that no 2 rooms are the same. It’s tempting to stay for a week and switch every night just to experience them all!

Each has something special. Rooms 5, 6, 7 and 8 all have balconies or sitting areas with sea views; Room 5 is the smallest (and cheapest), with a bathtub and handheld shower, while 6, 7 and 8 have tubs and double showers. The Boadicea Suite has a secluded courtyard with a water feature, loungers and an outdoor shower, as does the Bath House, which is a favourite with honeymooners thanks to its twin tubs and private plunge pool. The Farm is the only twin room (2 small double beds), and comes with a large, greenery-filled patio that also includes a table, chairs and an alfresco shower. Opt for a sea-view room if you can - they face east, so keep your shutters and curtains open and you’ll be treated to a lovely sunrise.

All rooms have tea- and coffee-making facilities, a minibar, WiFi, satellite TV, a DVD player and good-quality toiletries. There’s no air-conditioning, but there are ceiling fans. The high, mostly kingsize beds are huge and comfortable, and it’s fun clambering into them via the little red footstools. Most are extra-long, too - I’d been stretched out like a starfish for half an hour before I discovered a hot-water bottle had been placed in mine as part of the turn-down service!

Candelabras, large gilded mirrors and swathes of velvet add opulence, but some elements of the rooms seem to be more about form than function. The double showers look great, for example, but flood the bathroom floors. And the ensuites are open-plan, with no division between the bed area (toilets are walled off, fortunately).

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Have a meal at the Grand Café and you’ll be treating both your eyes and your palate. There's a lot to look at, whether it’s the lovely sea views from the terrace, or the sensory overload provided by the quirky and stylish décor. It’s just the place for a lazy lunch, sunset cocktails or a romantic dinner; choose to sit at the long, sociable wooden table outside and you might make some new friends, too (not least resident cat Tabitha).

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the bar is open all day. Menus change with the seasons and make the most of local produce, particularly seafood. Dishes are an interesting combination of French, Mediterranean and South African influences, with the likes of Bouillabaisse and fillet béarnaise sharing space with pasta vongole, calamari, Durban-style curry and chicken prego rolls. Our hake goujons with sweet-potato fries were a delectable twist on traditional fish and chips - fresh, flavourful and satisfying.

To accompany your meal, there’s a list of well-selected bubblies and South African wines, plus a lengthy cocktail menu. And if you’re still feeling peckish after 11pm, there’s a small room-service selection. Do make sure you sample one of the wonderful cakes (available throughout the day), too - the Bar One (Mars Bar) cheesecake is a delicious speciality.

Breakfast (included in the rates) is à la carte. I had a stack of American-style pancakes with cinnamon apple slices, maple syrup and bacon - heavenly, if a little sinful! Lighter options include smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, muesli with berries and yoghurt, a fruit platter, and croissants or toast.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander around Plettenberg Bay. Shop for beach-themed trinkets, or sit at a café and watch the world go by
  • Sun yourself on Lookout Beach (5 minutes away) and swim in its safe waters
  • Spot dolphins and whales from the shore or from one of the local tour boats (July-November)
  • The area is a paradise for nature lovers, walkers and hikers. The Tsitsikamma Forest, Nature’s Valley and the rugged Robberg Peninsula all have several trails of varying lengths
  • Adrenaline junkies can launch themselves off the highest commercial bungee jump in the world at the Bloukrans River Bridge (40km), or try canyoning, zip-lining and abseiling (all available within a 20km radius)
  • Animal lovers can check out the local elephant and monkey sanctuaries, the Birds of Eden sanctuary, and the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness and Rehabilitation Centre, where you can walk with cheetahs
  • Horse riding on the beach or in the forests can be arranged
  • The scenic town of Knysna is a half-hour drive from Plett. Visit the Knysna Heads, where a lagoon empties into the sea through a narrow gap between 2 headlands, and stop at the East Head Café for great food and lovely views (be sure to take home a bag of its legendary biscotti)
  • A little further afield, popular farmers’ markets are held on Saturday mornings in Sedgefield (55km) and George (95km)
  • Back at the hotel, float in the outdoor pool, curl up in the library with a book, chill out on the sea-view terrace, or book a treatment in the Petit Salon spa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Bungee jumping
  • Canyoning
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting
  • Zip-lining

Kids

No children under 12 are allowed, and only the Boadicea Suite can accommodate an additional bed.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly: Library

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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