Turbine Hotel and Spa

Turbine Hotel and Spa: Our full report

24 rooms
All year

What an exciting place! The Turbine Hotel Boutique Hotel & Spa is located on Thessen Island in the town of Knysna on the Garden Route.

There is a lot of history attached to the site of the hotel, dating back as far as 1870 when the Thesen Family moved from Norway. They bought Thesen Islands in 1904 and began processing timber in 1922. The waste from the timber mill was used to start a power station and it supplied electricity to the towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in the 1970's. In 1974 a large industrial conglomerate bought the operations but these were decommissioned in the early 80's due to the environmental impact it had. The site was then sold on for re-developments and turned into what is today a vibrant marina harbour town with shops, restaurants and several houses and apartments interlinked by canals and 19 islands. In June 2001 the Power station stopped working and one idea was to turn it into a museum but it never came to anything. In 2007 the site was sold on to the current owner and after 3 years of building work, trading as a hotel commenced in August 2010.

Much of the equipment including the original wood boiler and four electricity generators has been fully restored and are incorporated into the hotels décor. It has the industrial look but walking around the hotel on our visit in November 2011, we thought it looked amazing and fun! There are so many interesting things to look at here.

There are 24 bedrooms and these are divided into 17 standard “suites", 6 “luxury suites" and 1 “honeymoon suite". All of the rooms are individually decorated and has a similar layout but varies in size. Each is air-conditioned with full en-suite bathrooms with separate showers and baths, double vanity and heated towel rails. There are flat screen TV's, DVD players and full library of DVD's, a small kitchenette with a stocked mini bar, tea/coffee station and in-room phones.

The luxury suites are slightly bigger than the standard suites but are furnished with a sleeper couch and have extra bar stools. The honeymoon suite has a lounge, a microwave and small ice machine plus bar stools in the kitchen area, double showers and a separate bath.

There are many places to sit and relax inside and outside of the hotel surrounded by the machinery. There are three bar areas that include two restaurants, a pool and a Spa offering a variety of treatments. These include the Island Café that serves an a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, a Tapas bar that is located upstairs next to the café and outside to the front of the Tapas bar is the deck bar area. The pool deck is on the other side of the hotel overlooking the canal.

Other amenities include a library with computers set amongst huge turbines, and a small wine cellar upstairs in the Island Café. There is also a curio shop, and activities can be booked from the friendly staff at reception.

Our view

The Turbine Hotel is a unique hotel and for anyone looking for something different it can be the place to stay for a few days whilst taking in the sights of Knysna on the Garden Route.


Location: Garden Route, South Africa

Ideal length of stay: 2 – 3 nights

Accessible by: Self-drive

Key personnel

Owner: Privately owned by Geoff Engel and Dandre Lerm.

Food & drink

Usual board basis: B&B

Dining style: Individual Tables

Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining

Drinks included: No


Attitude towards children: Families with children are welcome.

Property’s age restrictions: None


Power supply: Mains Electricity

Communications: Each room has internet facilities and a telephone. The area also has cell phone reception.

TV & radio: There are flat screen TV's in each room with local satellite channels.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: There is a hospital and doctors in Knysna.

Security measures: None

Fire safety: Each room has a fire extinguisher.


Disabled access: In Place

Laundry facilities: Full Laundry Service - Extra Charge

Money: Each room has an electronic safe and a currency exchange is not possible.

Accepted payment on location: All major credit cards are accepted as well as cash payments in South African Rand.