One of my favourite moments on any trip is waking up in a new place and opening the curtains to reveal the first sunrise at my new destination. I can say with certainty that few of those moments have taken my breath away like Cape Town’s Ellerman House.
An Edwardian mansion tucked in between the hustle and bustle of the Victoria & Albert waterfront and all its sites, and Camp’s Bay Beach and the Twelve Apostles (but only minutes away from both), Ellerman House towers above the neighborhood of Bantry Bay and in between natural wonders Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.
If you’re able to tear yourself away from this view for just a moment, you’ll be rewarded by an even greater one over a breakfast I still dream of, overlooking their (sculpture) gardens, stunning pool and just beyond, the rugged and magnificent Atlantic Ocean.
Once a private residence now luxury hotel, Ellerman House has retained a unique charm in its warm and friendly service, maze of cozy communal rooms that feel like home, and personal touches felt across every element of the guest experience. From in-room cocktails tailored to your preferences upon check-in, to a private car service to some of the local sites and goodie bags for any hikes you may enjoy, to curated art tours and wine tastings on-site, both of which we must insist you partake in during your stay.
Thirteen rooms and suites and two multi-room villas make up the boutique hotel, offering a peaceful retreat and a respite during a busy trip. The communal gathering spaces – whether indoors or outdoors in their beautiful gardens – make Ellerman House the perfect place to enjoy alone, as a couple, or even with a group of friends and family (have we mentioned the villas?). For more privacy, book the Spa Rooms, which are more secluded in greenery and offer a private/semi-private pool.
The spa, too, is one of the best in the city and offers everything from nail care to signature facials to massages of all kinds. Their lymphatic drainage massage is worthy of particular note, as it helps offset the possible bloat that comes with wining and dining in one of Africa’s top cities.
While you are clearly not on safari, Ellerman House does give a nod to luxury safaris by offering an all-inclusive experience that covers almost every basic and not-so-basic need during your stay. Our two favourites? The Pantry – a little heaven of snacks and drinks available at all hours – and their famous Gin Trolley that makes a daily appearance for the iconic African ritual of a sundowner in their gardens.
The only thing too precious to give away is the wine, but fear not, an on-site wine cellar that is a work of art in and of itself is available for tastings multiple times a week. While you may (or may not) have enjoyed South African wine outside of South Africa, little of the best is exported, making for quite an impressive selection during your stay.
We’d be remiss not to emphasize the art at Ellerman House beyond its grand, terroir-inspired wine cellar. One of the largest private collections is at your finger trips during your stay. It features paintings that adorn the entire mansion from a wide variety of periods, techniques and media. Sculptures in all the gardens complement every walk to and from different areas of the property, their locations carefully selected. A private art tour is available for those who wish to learn more by booking upon check-in.
Before checking out, do make a point of stopping by the gift shop for a curated selection of local souvenirs that are anything but kitschy, their house Botany Bay gin (trust us), and jewelry – some made by staff-members of Ellerman House.
The warmth of the staff is matched only by the warmth of other like-minded guests, some first-timers, many regulars. Perhaps the most special thing about a stay at Ellerman House is the immediate feeling of comfort and being at home, and simultaneously somewhere so exotic and unique. And once you’ve left and are back in your home city or country, it will be impossible not to think of this magical place at the mere sight of any gin & tonic to follow…