We traded the sunsets and wine of the Cape Winelands for sunsets and oysters on the Knysna Lagoon when stayed at The Lofts Boutique Hotel on Thesen Island. As far as trades go, this wasn’t a bad one.
After driving five hours up South Africa’s southwestern coast, we felt a million miles away from the Cape Winelands. In fact, as we pulled off the N2 and drove over the bridge from downtown Knysna to Thesen Island, we felt like we were on the Maryland shore but with better sunsets and plumper oysters. If you’ve been to the Maryland shore, you’ll know what we mean.
Knysna, a coastal town known as the Pearl of the Garden Route, has epic views and an ideal climate, though we believe that this nickname is also related to the quality and quantity of the oysters available at restaurants in Knysna.
We loved the oysters so much that we filmed a Knysna Oyster YouTube video.
The Lofts Boutique Hotel Review
Located in the historic Boatshed building and fully renovated just a few months before our visit, The Lofts Boutique Hotel is stylish yet comfortable and offers a level of customer service that is attentive without being overbearing.
And the views! Perhaps the best part of staying at this hotel is the magical view of the Knysna Lagoon at sunset.
The Boatshed is an architecturally interesting building with high ceilings, cool shops, a popular café and plenty of places for hotel guests to relax with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
The owners of the property used the 2016 fire to their advantage to create a captivating, open, modern space. We loved walking on the catwalk rafters and peering down at the industrial building filled with gift shops and comfortable seating areas.
The Lofts Boutique Hotel has a mix of suites, rooms and self-catering apartments.
During our time in Knysna, we stayed in a loft-style suite with sweeping views of the Knysna Lagoon, a big bed, a flat-screen TV and unlimited Wi-Fi. Though the room would be perfect for couples on a South Africa honeymoon, it was also perfect for an established married couple like us.
We were tempted to lie in bed all day admiring the lagoon view through our room’s massive picture windows – let’s face it, we were tired after ten days of eating and drinking in the Cape Winelands. However, we couldn’t pass up on touring Knysna with its lovely vistas and savory seafood.
Though the hotel rooms are both stylish and comfortable, The Lofts Boutique Hotel provides a full experience for visitors to Knysna.
First and foremost, the hotel’s splash pool is a tranquil oasis with an awesome view of the Knysna Lagoon – especially in the morning and at dusk. The hotel also has a canoe and bikes available for active guests as well as a variety of board games for less active guests.
True confession: We didn’t use the canoe or the bikes during our visit. We didn’t even use the board games. However, we don’t feel like we missed out on a thing because we took full advantage of The Loft Boutique’s biggest asset – its sunset view by the splash pool.
For two glorious nights, we chilled by the pool with glasses of Chenin Blanc. One night, we shared the cheese plate pictured above while we watched the sun set over the Knysna Lagoon through our wine glasses.
Breakfast at Ile de Pain
Since The Lofts Boutique Hotel does not have an on-site restaurant, the hotel provides guests with breakfast vouchers to dine at four local Knysna restaurants. One of the restaurants, Île de Pain, is located just steps away from the hotel.
Based on its name that literally translates to Island of Bread, we suspected that Île de Païn would have good bread. Husband and wife team Markus Färbinger Liezie Mulder did not disappoint us with their freshly baked bread nor with the rest of their food.
We enjoyed breakfast items like Fruit Pizza and Brioche French Toast so much that we stopped in the café one afternoon for coffee and apple strudel, the cafe’s signature pastry. We may have also bought some treats for the road, but that’s another story.
A visit to Knysna must include oysters.
After eating tapas and oysters at the aptly named Tapas and Oysters on Thesen Island for our first dinner, we dreamed about oysters and then ate them again the next day at Freshline Fisheries. Plump and meaty, Knysna oysters have a sweet taste that stood on their own.
We added Tabasco for an extra kick because we love the Louisiana hot sauce. Once you watch our aforementioned oyster video, you’ll understand.
You won’t be bored when you stay at The Lofts Boutique Hotel on Thesen Island. Here are just a few of the ways that you can spend your free time:
The Lofts Boutique Hotel staff can assist you in planning any or all of these activities.
Transportation and Logistics
Getting to The Lofts Boutique Hotel
The drive from Cape Town to Knysna is under six hours, making The Lofts Boutique Hotel a perfect destination on a drive up (or down) the Garden Route. We recommend renting a car for the journey so that you can stop along the way at spots like Mossel Bay and George.
If travelers are not comfortable with driving on the left side of the road, other transportation options include travel by bus or plane (via the nearby George airport). Though there are train tracks, taking a train is not currently an option.
When to Plan Your Visit
Thanks to its geographic location, Knysna and Thesen Island have a moderate climate with favorable weather all year long. Days are longer and the temperatures higher in the summer, making the months of January to April extra desirable.
However, the annual Knysna Oyster Festival (10 days and 200,000 oysters) occurs during the winter. Decisions, decisions…
Book Your Thesen Island Hotel Room
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.