Places to stay: Further afield

Whether you are still enjoying an extended festive break, or are planning your next getaway, join Richard Holmes as he guides you through some of the best places to stay in South Africa.

For couples

The Olive Tree Villa, Yzerfontein

When The Olive Tree Villa opened in the seaside village of Yzerfontein earlier this year, it did so with minimal fanfare. Yet within weeks, the proprietors of other guest houses along the shoreline were certain of one thing: the bar had been raised.

An undeniably fresh take on coastal style is instantly apparent. The traditional approach to beach house decorating has been cast adrift in favour of a dark palette, with walls and floors a deep charcoal colour. The effect is at once cocooning, warming in winter and cooling in summer. It’s a clever device that seamlessly merges indoor with outdoor and its impact is best felt in the central courtyard. At the heart of the villa, and below a dramatic zinc-clad bridge that links its two pavilions, the courtyard is protected from the summer winds and shelters a swimming pool, seating areas with loungers, and braai stations for the two downstairs suites.

With couples in need of recharge and solitude in mind, four self-catering suites, ranging from a compact 35m2 to a double-volume penthouse, and all with endless sea views, each sleeps two. Comfort comes in the form of plush oversized armchairs and modular sofas, extra-length king-size beds, generously proportioned showers and bathtubs, luxury kitchen appliances, and marble-clad combustion fireplaces for wintry days.

Stay in nature

Cederberg House, Bushmans Kloof, Cederberg

Given Bushmans Kloof’s remoteness and the seclusion of this new addition private villa within it, you can only marvel at the scope of the project. Cederberg House is so richly decorated with heritage pieces and twentieth-century South African artworks that it gives the impression it’s been standing on the bank of the Boontjies River forever.

Interior decorator Toni Tollman of Red Carnation Hotels consciously strove to achieve this effect. Sourcing much of the content from vintage stores and art auctions, she selected items to echo the impressive rock formations of the surrounding environment and their incredible colours. Her use of materials, including stone, slate, Colefax and Fowler fabric, and woven leather Kravet wallpaper, takes on significance beyond their sensory luxury. “We set out to create something that connects our guests to the surrounding landscape,” she says.

But the true marvel of Cederberg House comes from looking outward for a stay, at a wilderness complete with San rock art sites. The sanctuary’s terrace, shaded by rietdak from the sun, stretches to include a dining area and a heated infinity pool, both with humbling views. This is where you’ll want to enjoy meals and, come dark, nestle up for stargazing.

The villa sleeps four in two master bedrooms, each en suite and with an outdoor shower. No creature comfort is spared, with technology cleverly concealed. Here is an escape where art is enriching both indoors and out.

A stay for indoor-outdoor living

Stone House, Hermanus

If Stone House were a catwalk model she’d exude confidence. She’d strut the Hermanus cliff path certain that she belongs. And she’d certainly be barefoot.

For barefoot living is epito­mised in this decadent coastline villa, for its carefree connotations and the textures of the surfaces underfoot. The warm stone in the courtyard reminds of Iberian and Provençal architecture. Patterned Moroccan tiles hint of global escapism, while the smooth solid wood and cement screed ground the home in a modern vernacular.

This utterly contemporary mix of styles and textures fuses seamlessly throughout the villa, making it a treat for design aficionados. In the shade of a large Madagascan cedar, its street-facing exterior conjures images of a French gîte. Enter the courtyard, the sheltered heart of the home, and the atmosphere becomes Afro-Ibizan, with an outdoor lounge, dining areas candlelit by lanterns, and a fire pit. And all with ocean views that flood through the double-volume, open-plan living area that leads out to the front terrace.

Stone House’s expansive indoor-outdoor entertainment and living spaces are child-friendly and perfect for large families or groups of friends. They’re also ideal for languid lunches prepared in the well-designed kitchen. The four spacious bedrooms, each en suite, welcome the sounds of the sea, mostly through doors leading onto ocean-facing balconies or terraces. There’s also a children’s den complete with four bunk beds and a secret play area.

A stay for a relaxed family vacation

Tintswalo at Boulders, Simon’s Town

Albeit late, a sunset check-in at Tintswalo at Boulders offers an unexpected advantage. The nine-suite villa is situated in a quiet residential street amid indigenous bush that surrounds Boulders’ alcove-like beaches, home to a famous African penguin colony. Come sunset, a penguin duo can often be seen waddling about the entrance, as if in anticipation of greeting tardy arrivals.

At the recently opened boutique villa, guests in all the suites bar one experience panoramic views of historical Simon’s Town and the penguin-filled beaches below.

Tintswalo at Boulders is spacious, offering privacy both indoors and out. Oversized armchairs and sofas decorate homely, comfortable lounges. A children’s games room comes with PlayStation and all manner of toys. Long dining tables lead off welcoming, open-plan kitchens. With features like these, the villa begs to be treated like one’s home.

On request, the building can be divided in two, with one half making up a private five-bedroomed villa that includes the games room and a children’s themed suite; the elevated pool deck is the only shared space. Such an arrangement comes with a dedicated housekeeper and, if desired, the services of a chef.

Guests can easily access the beach’s boardwalks and stroll to the penguin colony. Or if more adrenaline is required, the villa staff can book a water bike or kayaking experience, or a snorkel safari.

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