20 South African coastal retreats
Want to escape to the Cape? Here are the top coastal stays from Camp Bay to KwaZulu-Natal and beyond
1. Ellerman House
Gazing out over the swanky coastal suburb of Bantry Bay, Ellerman House was once an Edwardian businessman’s residence, but is now an hotel with 11 tastefully converted bedrooms. More contemporary, though, is the three-bedroom villa to one side, which has been the discreet home-from-home choice of visiting A-listers such as the Sultan of Brunei and Oprah. Have an early morning jog to Camps Bay, then come back to lounge round the pool in the garden, look round the private art gallery or have a massage in the spa downstairs. The downside? A credit card bill fit for an oligarch.
Details Seven nights including BA flights from Heathrow, transfers, B&B as well as some meals and drinks from £9,645pp based on four sharing (0845 6182205, akvillas.com ). Rooms from £289 B&B per night (ellerman.co.za)
2. 17 Geneva-Upper
Camps Bay, Cape Town
Small but perfectly formed, this one-bedroom self-catering apartment is festooned with designer features and a balcony big enough for a day bed, plunge pool and dining table from which you can enjoy awesome views of Lion’s Head — Cape Town’s second most famous peak — and the sea. It’s a short walk downhill to the cafés, bars and shops on buzzy Victoria Road and the beach.
Details From £249 per night for two (00 27 21 438 6440,noxrentals.co.za)
3. Abalone House
Paternoster, Western Cape
Paternoster is a quiet fishing village about an hour and a half’s drive north of Cape Town. Its whitewashed cottages give it the air of a small Greek town. There’s a long, sandy child-friendly beach, the chance to go kayaking in the bay (and see whales in season) and, for such a small place, it’s increasingly “foodie” — try the Gaaitjie Salt Water restaurant, the Noisy Oyster and Oep ve Koep, whose young owner Kobus van der Merwe forages for local produce. Abalone House is at one end of the village, with ten bedrooms, Paternoster’s poshest restaurant, Saffron, and a hot tub on the roof for bubbly sundowners. It has friendly staff, an even friendlier cat, a cosy bar and an imaginative range of breakfast dishes.
Details From R1200pp (£74) B&B (00 27 22 752 2044,abalonehouse.co.za)
Camps Bay, Cape Town
This new-ish, low rise, design-led hotel is a hop, skip and a jump from the beach as well as plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants round the corner on Victoria Road. More wallet-friendly rooms at the back have mountain views, while those at the front on the ground floor have their own plunge pool. There’s a pleasant lounge area that morphs into the restaurant where you can get breakfast.
Details B&B doubles from £160 a night (00 27 21 438 8550,pod.co.za)
This simple resort with en suite reed chalets (owners describe it as “comfortable camping”) near Kosi Bay in northern Natal is part of a joint community development venture close to iSimangaliso Wetland Park. A host of activities can be bolted on to the basic price, such as elephant safaris (from £27), turtle tours with community guides (from £35) and day trips to Mozambique from £35pp (visas are also extra).
Details Full board from £45pp per day (00 27 355 901 233,kosibay.net )
Llandudno, Cape Town
For the lottery winner or Premier League footballer in your life, this designer, glossy mag-style pad south of Cape Town has sea or mountain views from its six bedrooms, all of which have private sun terraces. Living areas are open on to wrap-around outside decks, with the all-important braai (barbecue) and on the lower level there’s a pool and steam room.
Details From £292pp per day based on the full occupancy of 12 people (020-7736 6014, wolfworster.com)
7. 62 on Fourth
Clifton, Cape Town
Clifton is the prime area for real estate in the whole of South Africa. Most of us can only dream of owning one of the cottages you’ll pass after you’ve parked your car on the road at the top then zig-zagged down steps to the beach. This three-bedroom, white-picket fenced spot is close to the beach with a large deck that’s big enough for a table for al fresco meals. The area is mobbed on sunny summer weekends, but being at the centre of all that is what you’re here for really.
Details From £455 per night for up to six people (0800 0516702,noxrentals.co.za)
8. Rocktail Beach Camp
Maputaland Coastal Forest, KZN
Not far from the border with Mozambique, this resort, set back from the beach in between dunes and forests, has 17 rather sumptuous, tented, en suite rooms. There’s a central dining room with bar and living room, as well as a pool and children’s playroom. Off shore there’s world-class diving and snorkeling.
Details From £112pp per night, half board (00 27 11 807 1800, .wilderness-safaris.com)
9. Lion’s View
A well-known South African architect designed this two-bedroom penthouse above another villa, the two of which can be rented separately or as a whole. It’s minimalist and airy with great views. There’s a private plunge pool, or it’s a leisurely ten-minute walk to the beach.
Details From £73pp per night, based on four sharing (020-7112 0019, fleewinter.co.uk)
10. Thonga Beach Lodge
This lodge has 24 well-equipped, thatched bush suites set back from a long, empty, sandy beach or hidden in dunes. Offshore is Africa’s most southerly coral reef, so it’ s a perfect spot for snorkeling, diving and kayaking. You can track Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles with guides during nesting season (November to February), or enjoy sundowners at nearby Lake Sibiya. There’s a pool if you don’t fancy the Indian Ocean.
Details From £345 per room per night, full board with some excursions and based on a one-week stay (020-7112 0019,fleewinter.co.uk)
11. Pearl Bay Beach House
Yzerfontein, Western Cape
An hour’s drive north of Cape Town, Yzerfontein is a fishing village next to the West Coast National Park, a gem for bird watchers and hikers. Set in front of a 16 mile-long beach, this spacious pad sleeps six. The kitchen, dining room and lounge are all open-plan, opening up on to a deck with hammocks and sun loungers, and there’s a pool too.
Details From £284 per night, with a two-night minimum rental (airbnb.co.uk )
12. Canelands Beach Club
Salt Rock, KZN
This small guesthouse is right on the beach, five minutes from Ballito, where an offshoot of Cape Town’s trendy Neighbourgoods food market opened this year. There are ten rooms, four of which are sea-facing with private balconies and floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Guests lounging on the sand plant a flag next to them to get the attention of the in-house beach butler who’ll bring drinks and food.
Details B&B doubles cost from £105 per night (01285 880980,steppestravel.co.uk)
Bakoven, Cape Town
Deep in glossy, designer-house magazine territory, this five-bedroom penthouse perfects seamless indoor-outdoor living so that you slide back floor-to-ceiling glass doors for views of Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles mountains and the Atlantic Ocean as you step out to the pool and sunbathing deck. All the amenities of Camps Bay are close by, but really this place has a wow factor that would make it hard to tear yourself away . Details From £85pp per night based on full occupancy of ten people (00 27 21 438 0032, blueviews.co.za )
14. Tanglewood House
Wild Coast, Eastern Cape
The Wild Coast is a 250km (150 mile) stretch of coastline that starts north of East London in the Eastern Cape and, as the name implies, is lovely and unspoilt. Tanglewood is a thatched house a two-minute drive from the beach at Morgan Bay. It sleeps five adults plus two kids on rollaway mattresses. The upstairs deck has great views out on to the bush, making it great for nature lovers.
Details From £75 per night for up to five people (00 27 43 8411031, wildcoastholidays.com)
15. Nectar Cottage
Nature’s Valley, Western Cape
About 20km east of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, this self-catering spot is surrounded by forest and less than 100m from the beach. Nectar has four bedrooms and its own private garden. There is great hiking nearby including the well-known Otter Trail, and canoeing, fishing and (in season, June to December) whale watching are all possible too.
Details From £123 per night for eight (020-3463 0087,housetrip.com, reference 134723)
16. Sea Five
Camps Bay, Cape Town
If you’d rather stay in a small hotel in Camps Bay than self-cater this place hits the spot, set on a quiet street but just a short walk to the buzzy beachfront. There are just six bedrooms, all with private terrace, of which the two-room penthouse occupies all of the second floor and gives both sea and mountain views.
Details Doubles from £300 per night B&B, including fully stocked minibar (i-escape.com)
17. Villa Zest
This hotel is a slight cheat as it’s not bang on the oceanfront, although you’re less than a ten-minute drive to the beaches at Clifton or Camps Bay. But it’s included because it’s a great place to stay — it’s small, in a good position, “designer” without being prissy, has lovely staff, a roof terrace for sundowners, a garden with pool, and a top breakfast to start your day.
Details B&B doubles from £108 (00 2721 433-1246,villazest.co.za)
Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape
Previously known as The Castle on the Cliff, this quirky property has five bedrooms and is set in its own private nature reserve. It has its own staff who will lay out cushions every day on the cliff top so you can sunbathe or read a book listening to the waves crashing against the rocks in the sea below.
Details From £1,633pp per week based on full occupancy of ten (01242 787800, redsavannah.com )
19. The Oyster Box
Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal
This hotel manages to be rather grand yet informal at the same time and is ten miles north of Durban. In addition to the main bedrooms there are also eight garden villa with their own plunge pool and terrace, each sleeping up to four. There’s a spa, main pool and 24-seat cinema and the beach is just a short walk away.
Details Room-only doubles cost from £340 per night (0027 31 514 5000, oysterboxhotel.com) . Garden Villas, which can sleep four, start from £1,065 per night. Rainbow Tours (020-7666 1250,rainbowtours.co.uk) has a week’s B&B from £2,200pp including BA flights to Durban via Johannesburg.
20 Birkenhead Villa
Hermanus, Western Cape
An hour and a half or so’s drive southeast of Cape Town, Hermanus is the spot for whale-watching in season . In the southern summer it’s a very popular place for weekending locals and an alternative stop off if you’re pottering along the Garden Route. Birkenhead Villa is the nicest place to stay in town with five bedrooms, its own spa and great views along Walker Bay.
Details Seven nights’ B&B costs from £2,480pp, including flights from Heathrow to Cape Town (01488 689700,baileyrobinson.com)