Discover the hidden five-star gem in the seaside resort favorite of Love Island’s Maya Jama and Jared Leto

Located in the picturesque Western Cape along the Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay features pristine beaches that attract not only local travelers but also famous faces such as Love Island presenter Maya Jama, Oscar winner Jared Leto and British actor Tom Hopper.

Plett (as the town is known locally) remains largely undiscovered by visitors from beyond African borders. Even fewer travelers like Jama venture beyond the inviting beaches to explore the hidden treasures of South Africa’s most captivating coastal vistas and vast indigenous forests.

But if revelers are looking for an oasis of calm after a day of whale hunting or hiking on the Robberg Peninsula, The Old Rectory and Spa is just the five-star hidden retreat where weary heads can recharge.


Nestled in a quiet corner of Plettenberg Bay, The Old Rectory and Spa is one of the oldest buildings along the coast, built in 1777. Wedged between the rugged Tsitsikamma mountain ranges and the pounding surf of the Indian Ocean, this hotel offers a tranquil haven for those looking for a restorative stay. The property is just a two-minute walk from Hobie Beach, where a world of water sports and boat tours await avid travelers. It’s also a short walk to the town’s cafe-lined main street, making it easy to explore the local restaurants and shops.

For those not driving the Garden Route, Plett has its own regional airport and is 40 minutes east of George Airport. Unlike more cosmopolitan areas, Ubers are difficult to find, so it’s wise to ask for a taxi company’s number upon arrival if you’re traveling without a car and allow plenty of time to get around.

    (The old parsonage and spa)

(The old parsonage and spa)


Originally built as a barracks for the Dutch East India Company (better known today as the VOC) in the 18th century, the building later served as a home for the Anglican Church before being transformed into the bright, eclectic boutique hotel that stands there today. Amazingly, apart from a relatively minor roof update in 1887, very few structural changes have been made, making it a rare piece of architectural and cultural history that remains virtually intact after its construction almost 250 years ago.

This rich history is evident from the moment guests arrive, greeted by the striking Cape Dutch silhouette. In the reception area, the building’s architectural heritage is proudly displayed with exposed oak beams dating back to 1777. The original stone and mud brick walls seamlessly complement the contemporary décor, creating a space that is decidedly opulent and full of character. The dining room continues this tribute to its heritage with the original yellowwood floors, the VOC emblem on the back of the chairs, a wall of historic photographs and a centuries-old milkwood tree lovingly preserved in the garden.

Close to reception is the ‘Ladies Bar’ – where, despite the name, all genders are welcome. Deep Chesterfield sofas and a copper-fronted bar add to the venue’s old-world charm, while modern touches such as linen-covered armchairs under plantation fans elevate the space.


The hotel’s Sanctuary Spa is a truly spiritual experience, not only because it is housed in the old rectory church, but especially because of its decadent Moyo treatments and starlit hammam. Loved by guests and locals alike, advance booking is essential to secure a spot in this serene retreat. Meanwhile, at the edge of the saltwater pool, a sculpture of Marieke Prinsloo-Rowe’s Swimmer Girl stands, casting a watchful eye on sunbathers relaxing on cabana-striped loungers.


The hotel’s 18 open-plan suites offer relaxed coastal luxury, with interiors inspired by the flora and fauna of the area. Guests can enjoy their own in-room spa experience with a walk-in rain shower and freestanding bath. The experience is taken to the next level with the hotel’s own eco-friendly brand of bath salts, bubble bath and bath oils.

Other luxurious amenities include a Nespresso machine, a fully stocked minibar and underfloor heating, while the nightly turndown service is rounded off with a hand-tied poem of the day and chocolates on the pillow of your king-size bed. All rooms offer sea or garden views from your private terrace or balcony, and some of the areas can be converted into family rooms.

    (The old parsonage and spa)    (The old parsonage and spa)

(The old parsonage and spa)

Eat Drink

The Old Rectory boasts one of the city’s best restaurants, aptly named 1777. The bistro-style menu draws on Dutch, English and South African influences, with standout dishes such as ostrich fillet, line-caught kingklip and Bunny Chow – a hollowed out white bread filled with curry, a unique Indian-South African dish.

Guests can choose to dine in the main dining room, located in the oldest part of the hotel, or outside at one of the candlelit tables for a more intimate atmosphere. After enjoying a sumptuous meal, guests can retreat in front of the centuries-old fireplace for a cozy nightcap, possibly combined with a slice of Amarula cheesecake.

The culinary delights continue with breakfast and made-to-order brunch favorites like eggs benedict and stacks of pancakes. Yet the custom-made breakfast table is a feast for the eyes, with freshly baked rolls and bread, fruit bowls, cheese and cold cuts. To top it all off, there’s a Bloody Mary and Mimosa station to wash it all down, along with excellent service with a personal touch.

    (The old parsonage and spa)    (The old parsonage and spa)

(The old parsonage and spa)


Although Stellenbosch is better known as the wine capital of South Africa, Plett and the surrounding area are home to several wineries, and the estates have great restaurants where you can enjoy fantastic food while tasting the wine – or skip the food and enjoy just a glass of wine. Chenin Blanc.

The Rare Earth group, the small luxury hospitality company behind The Old Rectory and Spa, also owns the award-winning Kay & Monty vineyard ( in the Crags, thirty minutes outside the city. There you can sample a cold glass of their beloved MCC while enjoying a sharing plate full of local cheeses, seasonal fruits and cured meats.

However, if you’re looking for adventure, the hotel is ideally located minutes from popular Central Beach. Guests can book a range of ocean activities through the hotel, including sea kayaking, surfing, swimming with Cape fur seals and whale watching during the winter months (July to October).

For those who prefer solid ground, hiking on the Robberg Peninsula is a must. This area is an ideal vantage point for spotting marine life such as killer whales, dolphins and killer whales. It is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with species such as Cape Robins and Cape White-Eyes in the area. Just outside Plett is the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary (, where you can walk with rescued elephants, just like Leto from 30 Seconds To Mars did. The area is also home to several other animal sanctuaries, including Birds of Eden, Monkeyland and Jukani (for big cats).


Room rates start from around £242 per night including breakfast, off-peak travel (May 1 to July 31, 2024)

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