A Royal Affair in Port Alfred

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Dear Your Highness,

Your Port Alfred kingdom awaits. You may now enter through the ports of the Royal St. Andrews Hotel and experience world-class luxury in South Africa.

Yours sincerely,
The Noble Royal St Andrews Knighthood in Port Alfred

Port Alfred Royal St Andrews Hotel

The invitation I received to the Royal St Andrews Hotel must have looked something like this? I am sure I saw those exact words in an e-mail to me (also known as: the royal highness), because there is no logical explanation as to why I got treated like royalty…

A Royal Affair in Port Alfred

Amidst the crazy of August I got whisked away for a weekend of pure indulgence at the Royal St Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred and it was majestic grandeur at its best.

The hotel, which forms part of the Mantis Collection, is situated between Port Elizabeth (152 km away) and East London (140 km away) in Port Alfred, the coastal town known for having the most sunshine hours in a year.

Upon entering through the doors of the Royal St Andrews Hotel you find yourself in the middle of a glossy décor magazine and with each step and new discovery you flip through the pages from cover to cover as you feast your eyes on the eclectic contemporary décor.

Simply elegant.

Simply stunned.

Simply smack me over the head with a “wow”.

And I simply had to remind myself that I was not allowed to take furniture from the hotel (because I had my eye on that bright yellow cupboard at reception and it could’ve ended in some sort of criminal activity).

Port Alfred Royal St Andrews Hotel

As I pieced designs together; from floral decals on wingback chairs to beautiful wooden furniture, my mind started to wander around the heritage rooms of the historic hotel in Port Alfred on the Sunshine Coast…

Shakespearean sonnets and noble words fluttered around in my vocabulary as whimsical rhymes danced together between the lines of pages boasting Victorian dresses and aristocratic figures from a long time ago, possibly ages.

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journey’s end in lovers’ meeting-
Every wise man’s son doth know.

Royal st Andrews Hotel Bathroom
Royal St Andrews Hotel Pool
Royal St Andrews Heritage Room

Port Alfred on a Plate

There are not one, not two, but three restaurants at The Royal St Andrews Hotel.

Yes, three – the Highlander Pub which serves pub food with a royal twist, the Paper Nautilus Deli where breakfast dreams originate from and the Thistle Restaurant, an award-winning and suit-and-almost-tie fine dining restaurant – the first of its kind in Port Alfred – where Chef Debby van Wyk creates plates of art.

During my stay in Port Alfred I had the opportunity to take part in the launch of the Thistle Restaurant’s first Dégustation Evening. And in all honesty (and because of the mere fact that I am not a foodie) I had to Google the meaning of dégustation.

If you are anything like me, you’ll appreciate the power of Google and my research skills. Here is the meaning (you are welcome): Dégustation is a culinary term meaning a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods and focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art and good company. Dégustation is more likely to involve sampling small portions of all of a chef’s signature dishes in one sitting.

Initially, the Dégustation Evening’s menu consisted of six courses but eight plates (or possibly nine) were placed in front of me throughout the evening. In true non-foodie fashion the names of the dishes were foreign, some of the ingredients were completely new to me, and at times I did not know what the alluring smell under my nose was, but the meticulous combination of flavours sent my palate on an all-time high.

Degustation Evening
Degustation Evening
Degustation Evening
Degustation Evening

Amouse Bouche: Rooibos Granite, Treacle Sugar, Roasted Fig.
Starter: Butter Poached Tiger Prawn.
Apple Jelly and Micro Herb Salad.
Entree: Grilled Duck Breast, Peach, Radish, Snow Pea Salad.
Salt and Pepper Squid.
Main: Pepper Crusted Venison Fillet, Ratatouille, Baba Ganoush.
Rocket Pesto Vol au Vent, Sliver of Pear.
Cheese: Blue Cheese, Berry Compote, Walnuts and Toasted Bread.
Dessert: Pavlova, Chantilly Cream, Summer Fruits, Coulis, Sauce Anglaise.

If you want to know more about the food, read what Food in PE (the real foodies who get up on chairs and tables to take photos of food) had to say about the Dégustation Evening. You can also drool over the photos from the evening from another foodie (@a.girl.named.kez) and another one (@marionmarais) on Instagram.

If you want to suit up and experience the Dégustation Evening, click here, for Royal St Andrews Hotel’s special which includes accommodation and a gazillion-course meal served with wine as a pairing portion (also known as six glasses of wine from bubbly to white to pink to red to muscadel).

Explore and Discover Port Alfred

Due to Port Alfred’s close proximity to Port Elizabeth it is the ideal weekend getaway for a romantic escape, a family-filled adventure as well as a golf holiday with the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club (walking distance from the hotel) and two more clubs, about a 45-minute drive from town, the Fish River Sun Country Club (designed by Gary Player) and the Belmont Valley Country Club.

Whether you want a relaxing break, a fine dining experience or an active holiday, get yourself to Port Alfred. Here are some suggestions of what you can do and explore in town (read the full article I wrote for the Herald: 10 Things to do in Port Alfred).

Sunrise at Kelly’s Beach

Start your day with a steaming cup of coffee and drive to Kelly’s beach to greet the first rays of the morning and go for a refreshing stroll on the golden mile of sandy shores.
Port Alfred Sunrise

Also, have a look at the photos @scrumpyjackson, an Instagrammer, took while he was in Port Alfred.

Visit the Port Alfred Courtyard

The petite Courtyard in Van der Riet street is where you want to be if you are looking for anything and everything; breakfast, sweet treats, the resident cat, antiques, second-hand treasures, art and décor and also fresh flowers.

Port Alfred Courtyard
Port Alfred Courtyard
Port Alfred town

Cruise on the Kowie River

Whether you want to go on a self-powered adventure in a kayak or enjoy a leisurely cruise with a sundowner in hand, the Kowie River offers boats in all shapes, sizes and speed for everyone.

Just make sure that your boat captain fills the engine with petrol before you get stuck in the middle of the Kowie River. That happened to us. It was one of the scariest experiences ever. The captain was just about to give up and fire a flare when we got rescued by a dreadlock-rasta on a canoe who rowed, rowed, rowed his boat gently down the stream; no petrol no guy, no rasta no goodbye.

(I am over-exaggerating about the “scariest experience” and the “flare”, but the rest is all true).

Port Alfred Kowie River

Catherine Richards, from The Herald, wrote about her experience in Port Alfred as well, click here to read it.

Soak it all in

The most important thing to do in Port Alfred is to soak it all in – the fresh air, the oceanside, the friendly townspeople and the beautiful environment. Visit Port Alfred and make time to just relax and soak it all in.

Kamakazi fries Highlander Pub Port Alfred

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Royal St Andrews Hotel but as always, all opinions are my own. The image of the cupboard that I want to steal as well as the room photo does not belong to me and was used courtesy of the Royal St Andrews Hotel.

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