Few cities can rival the mesmerising natural beauty of Cape Town, set on a peninsula cradled by the deep blue Atlantic, peaks that have somehow sprouted from the water, and the iconic Table Mountain. The city’s pedigreed hotels manage to compete with the environment, but none match the quiet refinement of Ellerman House. Situated in the moneyed — and wind-free (a rarity in breeze-buffeted Cape Town) — suburb of Bantry Bay, it is a 10-minute drive from the bustling hotels of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, yet a short stroll from the beaches of Clifton. The small hotel is reminiscent of its boutique French Riviera counterparts where sea views, astonishing accommodations, delectable meals, and, most importantly, the unspoken guarantee of exclusivity are de rigueur: Ellerman House is only open to guests and most passersby mistake its simple sign for that of a private home.
The 1906 Cape Edwardian building, named for the shipping magnate who purchased it in 1962 — the current owner is a retired banker — has eleven rooms and a standalone villa on 1.5 acres of terraced gardens. All accommodations differ in design but here’s a taster: One has walls in soothing shades of pistachio, another comes with double doors that open to the private patio with chaise longues, while leather, linen, and wood add texture to a third. The crowning achievement is the Ellerman Villa, a three-storey, 1,800 square-metre modernist, minimalist refuge with windows and doors that fully retract to bring the outdoors in, a private, heated infinity pool and teak deck, and views of the Atlantic that words fail to adequately describe. The villa’s bottom floor is home to the Ellerman Spa (it has a separate entrance so as not to disturb villa guests), but there is the ingenuity in the layout — the villa, which comes with a 24-hour chef, wait staff and housekeeping, can be booked with exclusive use of the spa and unlimited spa treatments, making it a mini resort unto itself. Oenophiles can look forward to a second villa, to open in August 2013, which will have a private cellar holding the hotel’s entire collection of wine and Champagne.
The usual temptations keep guests on property — a restaurant capitalising on the bounty of local fishermen and farmer’s markets, serving modern-European food or, in reality, whatever the guests want off menu, a cellar with 7,500 bottles of South African wine (Cape wine country is only 45 minutes away), a solar-heated pool, and a spa offering Reiki, hot- and cold-stone therapy, wraps, and scrubs to sounds of the Atlantic. Where Ellerman House truly stands out is its prodigious and diverse South African art collection, mined from owner’s private trove, encompassing early 1900s masters in the main house’s rooms and common areas, right up to modern-day pieces judiciously exhibited in the onsite, round-the-clock gallery, Ellerman Contemporary.
A stay at Ellerman House settles into a refreshingly uncluttered rhythm set to a series of enduring memories: Museum-quality artwork at every turn; staff that never say no; endless vistas of the rolling ocean; reading a book from the library in front of a wood-burning fire; and sipping a glass of wine, watching another silence-inducing sunset.
Ellerman House, 180 Kloof Road, Bantry Bay 8005 Cape Town, South Africa.
Ph: +27 21430-3200