Abalone House & Spa

Paternoster, Cape Winelands & West Coast, South Africa Book from R2,450

Reviewed by Jo Duxbury
A luxurious, quirky hotel with an outstanding restaurant, overlooking the sea in a charming fishing village
In the quaint village of Paternoster, Abalone House is an unexpected surprise. On the outside, this 5-star hotel fits in with the whitewashed fishermen’s cottages that line the beautiful shore. But inside, it is quirky, colourful and spoiling. The reception area greets you with full-on ‘Boere Baroque’ style - an explosion of eclectic furniture and art. You’ll want to poke around for a while, looking at everything. By contrast, the 10 suites are calm and peaceful, with just the odd whimsical detail: a huge jewel-toned Tretchikoff print by the bed; a family of rubber ducks in the bathroom.

Paternoster's best restaurant waits downstairs, along with a pool, a spa, a bar and a cosy lounge - there’s really no need to leave the hotel if you fall into full-on relax mode. But if you want a change of scene, stroll along white-sand beaches, watch local fishermen tend their traditional crayfish pots, potter around colourful art galleries, and bird watch in nearby nature reserves.

Highs

  • Gorgeous, sparkly sea views from the restaurant and deck
  • Perfect for romance - no kids allowed and a rooftop Jacuzzi to drink champagne in
  • Heavenly and unusual flavour combinations from Reuben Riffel (a SA celebrity chef): we loved his spicy prawn salad with asparagus, mint and grapefruit
  • Sea kayaking alongside dolphins, seals and whales
  • An off-the-tourist-track destination, popular with weekending Cape Towners

Lows

  • 65% of the total must be paid on reservation
  • The lounge is somewhat overfurnished, and there's a mounted springbok head, which some may not like
  • Not all rooms are sea-facing, and ground-floor rooms open onto the pool courtyard, so are less private
  • Two resident cats - take note if you have allergies

Best time to go

November-April is South Africa's peak season; February is the best month as temperatures are constant (very hot!) and there’s little wind compared with other months. September’s wildflower season is also popular, and the weather is generally sunny but cool.

Our top tips

Ask for a treatment in the Salt Room - local salt crystals carpet the floor and massage bed, and glitter in the candlelight.

Great for...

Beach
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10
  • Restaurant & bar (open daily)
  • Over 12s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The 10 suites are calm spaces, all slightly different. Brightly striped mohair blankets add colour to crisp, white linens on comfy kingsize beds, and each room has a piece of antique furniture - perhaps a dressing table or armoire - and a kitsch-but-cool reproduction of a Tretchikoff print. All the mod cons are in place, and nice touches include a selection of CDs and DVDs, baths as well as showers, under-tile heating, and a dash of whimsy from rubber ducks or frogs.

It's worth upgrading to a Luxury Superior Suite for a private patio/courtyard, especially if you get one with a sea view; #5 and 7 are the quietest. The ultimate room is the Superior Seaview Suite; you can watch the sun set from your private balcony. Note, all rooms on the ground floor open directly onto the sheltered pool courtyard.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Since Reuben's opened, Paternoster has become a magnet for foodies. There are a clutch of excellent local restaurants (reception can advise), but Reuben's is still the best, so be sure to book ahead for lunches and dinners. The imaginative menu uses local ingredients and West Coast specialities, adapting to what’s available seasonally. We loved the linefish (kingklip) with summer salsa and spicy tomato sauce, and were blown away by the tender beef fillet with butternut puree. But our standout dish was dessert: a dark chocolate pavé with ginger mousse and strawberry and mint granita - we were really impressed by how well the unusual flavours worked together (as you'd expect from a Masterchef South Africa judge).

Breakfast is a more casual affair - a hearty buffet of pastries, fruits, yoghurts and cereals. If you're here for a special occasion, Abalone House can set up a romantic beachnic for you in a secluded corner of the beach, complete with champagne.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Beach picnics (beachnics)
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax at the Healing Earth Spa with a Baobab seed-pod facial or Pinotage grape massage. Then swim in the pool and soak up the views from the rooftop Jacuzzi
  • Walk along the white-sand shoreline, browse local bric-a-brac shops, and potter in small art galleries
  • Kayak in the bay as the sun rises. It's a great time to spot seals, dolphins and birds (cormorants, oyster catchers, Arctic terns, penguins). You may even see southern right whales close to shore during their migration (August to November)
  • Day-trip to see the carpets of wild daisies, wildlife and bird hides in the West Coast National Park, or take a 4x4 tour through the unspoilt, natural wilderness and rocky coves of the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve at Tietiesbaai
  • Kitesurfing, snorkelling and scuba diving, horse riding, and mountain- and quad-biking are all available locally

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Quad biking
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Whalewatching
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Abalone House only accepts children aged 12+ and there are no extra beds. It's really an adult retreat.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Abalone House & Spa