Easter weekend ; wedding; fun. A very well-deserved break. Looking forward to some rest and peace. To moments of silence, and what’s better than a one horse town in the middle of nowhere? We are at Riebeek Kasteel, off the West Coast of the Western Cape. I’ve never even seen this place on the map before! Like every small Afrikaans town there’s a few roads but there must be a Hoofstraat and a Kerkstraat. But better than all the small towns I’ve been to, this one has ‘town wifi’. Access in every corner of the town!
We are staying at Kasteelberg Bistro and Inn at R900 per night for 3 nights. This place is half owned by someone named Alan Barnard. No, he’s not related to the surgeon Christian Barnard who performed the first heart transplant, but that’s the first question I asked as well. Apparently he was a radio DJ many moons ago, +-25yrs to be exact, and my mother-in-law absolutely loved him. That is why we’re staying at his Inn.
First Impressions? Very good directions from the website, very easy to find the place. The Inn looks small, as expected. There’s no hotel parking, so we park in the street. We make our way inside where we’re met by a waitress who asks us how she can help. We tell her we’d like to check in and she says “follow me to the back”.No introductions, no welcome to our B &B, no smile whatsoever.
We follow her to the back of the restaurant and she asks what name we booked under, and we tell her. She retrieves keys and goes out the back door, we assume we are to follow, so we do. She leads us to a room, opens the door and tells us this is our room. Then walks out, we follow, she shows us the ‘secret garden’ and gives us a gate code, hands us the keys and leaves us standing there. Are we to pay now or later? What time is breakfast? Who are we to contact if we have problems? We don’t know and she’s gone.
So not a very good reception, it felt like we were the biggest inconvenience in her life. She must have had better things to do than check us in.
Moving on to appearances. The place looked nice and cosy outside the room. Nice little fish pond next to our room, I liked the garden( not sure how it’s secret though), ambivalent about the swimming pool( peeling flooring but clean water at least), small bar by the garden with music; nice enough. Outside looking good.
Now let’s see the room properly. It’s 14h00 in the afternoon at a sunny 28 deg Celsius, opened curtains, but this room is dark! Onły 2 small bathroom windows and a door. The bed looks too low down for my liking but I can forgive that. The linen ok, I like the vintage looking bedroom decor. But the cupboard only opens on one side, they have about 8 hangers, all different types. Like the ones in your grandmothers wardrobe. The fridge is a small camping fridge than only fits 2 x 1L of juice! The floor creaks as you walk, ancient wood. Nice bathroom, but such a small bath and the water spills all over the bathroom and the room floor when you bath. Best of all, there’s no TV. I know some people say that’s a good thing, why watch TV on holiday. You should be resting and talking to people. But there are people like me, who would like to be given the option to either watch it or not. There’s not even a communal area where you could watch TV, no rugby game for us then. # not impressed.
So I ask if they have board games then, so we can entertain ourselves, and nope they don’t. So it’s either you’re in your room sleeping, or in the swimming pool or the bar/ garden. There’s not a lot to do in town either. It’s either you go to the olive farm or wine farm or walk around the small town- all these you could do on the first day, then what?
We had a good night’s sleep though. I haven’t rested like this for a while. Comfortable bed and bedding. And the darkness turned out to be a good thing when it stayed dark the whole morning while we slept. But, we had to wake up for breakfast before 11h00, B&B accomodation remember? Breakfast Options, none really. My husband likes his cereal before a hot breakfast and we are told there’s only one cereal per 2 people. How does that even make sense? We booked for bed and breakfast for 2! Hot breakfast: 2 streaks of bacon, non-seasoned mushrooms, 2 eggs and tomatoes, served with hollow homemade bread. Supposed to be sausages too, but none on the plate and when we ask, we are told they’re finished. Not impressed!
Service continues to be smile’less! From the same lady that showed us to our room the previous day. The in-laws are driving into town in the afternoon. We drove up a day earlier to get some romantic time before the herd joined in. But we’re staying at different places. Our place, the Kasteelberg Bistro and Inn, is better located, in the middle of town and has better amenities, and general outside look. Their place is someone’s rural house with a barn full of nonsense, immediate neighbors doing their own thing and their dogs running around. Quite honestly it feels a bit ‘shacky’ like you’re in the shacks. But their rooms are so much nicer than ours. Simple things just executed well and cleanly.
Then it was time for dinner. Where do we have dinner? Like always, I take to Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews. I do find them useful and reliable. The Kasteelberg Bistro, attached to the Inn we’re staying at has a total of 13 reviews and all the other restaurants have above 80 reviews. For a place that’s been around forever, to only be reviewed 13 times, I find very suspicious. Not to mention it was all bad reviews, not even one person had anything good to say about them. We decide to go with the well reviewed Royal hotel, my review to follow. Let’s just say, it was the best decision of the weekend!
But my mother-in-law still wanted to see the certain Alan Barnard, so the second night we gave the Bistro a chance. The service still lacked a smile, and there was a lot of waiting. But the food didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it would be. My father-in-law had Thai noodles and chicken, and the chicken was cooked to perfection, beautifully juicy. My mother-in-law had a crackling pork belly and mash which she also enjoyed, while my sister-in-law had a homemade gnocchi with a mushroom sauce which she thought was yummy. Everyone enjoyed their meals, except for me. And not because I’m very fussy, but my duck fillet although cooked well, had no seasoning at all. The plum compote served with it was tasteless, didn’t make sense on the plate, and coloured the whole plate black. #not appetizing. Such a shame. And no kiddies menu and we had our son and my sister-in-law’s 2 boys.
The food took a while and there were only 2 tables in the restaurant. But if it’s good, I never complain about the wait. The food was quite expensive too.
And when we checked out, it turns out the cereal we had to pay for, R45 for muesli!
Overall experience was poor.
Accomodation- 4/10- more points lost because of the noise from the bar/garden throughout the night.
Value for money- 4/10
Would I go back? NO.
Would I recommend it? To stay or eat? NO to staying, maybe for eating out.
Lovely little town though, my son especially enjoyed sprinting up and down the quiet roads. And i loved the little market on the Saturday😊.