I’ve always had a love for horses. I never really had the opportunity to have my own, or to ride often enough for that matter, but it’s been a lifelong dream. Staying at the five-star Riboville Boutique Hotel & Restaurant currently owned by George Sinovich, had me feeling all equestrian right in the heart of Joburg. It had me dreaming about playing polo or even trying my hand at show jumping. What a turn of events that would be!
Strolling past water furrows that line the hotel’s parking, through the majestic wooden doors of the hotel, I was mesmerised by the atmospheric warmth brought about by wide, open spaces, double volume ceilings, bare brick pillars and wooden beams. Colonial and classic are both evident in the decor of the hotel, with touches of elegance in the form of enormous chandeliers hanging overhead; romantic couches and Persian carpets bringing in some surprising patterns and splashes of colour. Here and there you’ll find an equestrian-inspired element – whether it’s a small horse sculpture on a coffee table, the polo field views from the restaurant or the name of your room.
We stayed in Pinto (Room 9), overlooking a small dam and with the overcast weather, it instantly transported me to Europe. The spacious room had double doors opening up onto a small balcony and on a warmer day, I would have loved to kick off my shoes, pour a glass of wine and just take in the view from there. This time around, I took in the cloudy views through raindrop splattered windows while lounging on one of the two clearly loved vintage couches in the room. Working from the room was rather comfortable too, with a small desk that offered enough space for what had to be done.
Of course, at a hotel like this, impressive art against the walls, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and a glass of red by the fireplace are reason enough to go out and explore, or to grab your laptop and rather opt for working from the leather couch in the lounge instead of the required in-room desk.
As I moved downstairs, the weather seemed to allow for a quick drink on the restaurant’s veranda, overlooking one of Waterfall’s polo fields. Apparently guests often catch a glimpse of a horse and his rider prancing by. Although we did not get to view the horses during our stay, we did get to dine with swans, which was pretty lovely too.
If I had to choose a highlight from the stay, the restaurant is undoubtedly it. After a quick glass of wine outside, the warmer interiors lured us inside for dinner and a glass of red. We kicked off with starters – a surprise from the hotel’s sushi chef – and we were blown away! I will go back for dinner and order sushi only any time. From there we were offered an array of main meal options and we opted for lamb chops with mash and fillet with mixed vegetables. Our meal was coupled with a 2015 Vergelegen Reserve Merlot – suggested to us by the hotel’s kind and capable sommelier, originally from Cape Town. Dessert was, once again, a surprise from the chef – a plate of decadent treats bringing dinner full-circle.
Riboville Boutique Hotel & Restaurant is truly one of those Joburg gems that allow for some of the best staycations. Who would have thought that you can get all that equestrian and countryside feels you often long for, right in the heart of Joburg?