Hout Bay Manor

Eclectic elegance in Heart Bay

One of the best drives in Cape Town is the coastal road to Hout Bay. It’s a short journey, just 20 minutes, but I love how the mountain rises on the one side, and the ocean drops off to the right. Chasing sunlight we dip into town. We’re on our way to Hout Bay Manor, a historical landmark, and five-star boutique hotel.

We’re greeted with big smiles and a glass of Ambeloui; a Méthode Cap Classique made in Hout Bay. The area has officially been declared a wine region, with seven boutique estates making wine.

Hout Bay, or Heart Bay as it’s known to some residents, is a special place. Close enough to the city centre to make commuting a breeze, but far enough that it’s an island on its own. Well, maybe not an island, but a beautiful bay that has a busy harbour, unspoilt beaches and rampant nature. There’s plenty to see, do and eat too.

The beauty is in the details

The hotel’s décor is unique. Having retained its Cape Dutch bones, the interior is an eclectic blend of African styles. Nature is everywhere; in contemporary fynbos textiles, living plants, and art. The colour theme is bright, and textures are rich. There are countless treasures; from faded watercolours to antique collectables. It feels like a home, albeit a grand one.

Hout Bay Manor was first built in 1871 by Jacob Trautmann, and it was originally known as the Royal Hotel. On a tour of the property we’re led down into the wine cellar. Found underneath the boardroom, we descend into the cool quarried rock. On the walls are black and white pictures of the old hotel, and we’re told that guests often do wine-tastings here.

Back at reception there’s a lamp that’s been cleverly made out of tin basins.  Towering above us, it’s more art than function and at the front desk reading lamps have been made out of traditional Zulu headwear.

There are 19 rooms each with en-suite bathrooms, these are divided into four sections. ‘The Sotho’ features double rooms with private garden terraces, we check out one of these rooms and admire the outside shower; perfect for sandy bodies after the beach. Upstairs is the mountain-facing section ‘The Xhosa’ as well as ‘The Zulu’, which has views of the property’s tea garden and heated pool.

All of the above are luxurious and comfortable, but it’s ‘The Sangoma’ rooms that take the cake: two rooms, adjacent to each other, with freestanding baths and large balconies overlooking the pool and garden. To be used as a swish honeymoon pad or even a suite for a family.

Pure indulgence

Pure Restaurant is a break away from the jewel tones that dominate the rest of the hotel. The setting lives up to its name. Scrubbed cream floors are reflected in the dome mirrored ceiling, a hand-blown glass chandelier takes centre stage, and lamps fashioned out of driftwood and fairy lights circle the restaurant. It’s all pretty jaw-dropping. Like a day at a very glamorous beach.

The menu for tonight is a Groote Post wine-and-food-pairing. The restaurant often has special menus, but the  la carte offering is pretty tempting too; I think I’ll come back for the scallop carpaccio and rack of lamb with Jerusalem artichoke risotto.

Tonight though we dine on velvety chicken liver parfait, followed by roasted sirloin and the skinniest fries I’ve ever seen. Dessert is a baked date pudding with butterscotch ice cream and banana crème anglaise; a treat so rich and warming I feel my eyes quickly closing. Luckily, bed’s not far.

By Malu Lambert

There’s a sunny breakfast room, which runs from 7:30am till 10am. Expect warm breakfasts as well as buffet options which include; farm-bread, deli meats, smoked salmon and fresh fruit.

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