An African Villa

Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, South Africa Book from R1600

Reviewed by Ben Feetham
Excellent value, spacious and contemporary-styled guesthouse created from 3 Victorian terraced houses
You may be forgiven for thinking that some clever illusion has been played out when entering the front gate of this friendly guesthouse, only 7 blocks from the city centre. The outside seems conventional enough: a terrace of charming 19th-century houses featuring original wooden balconies and wrought-iron railings; but open the door and you’re catapulted into a 21st-century urban safari. The interior yields spaces on a grand scale, with décor as up-to-date as this morning’s news. Some describe the design as 'African-Scandinavian'; others, 'African-Zen'.

The owners have interlinked 3 'grand old Victorian ladies' to create 11 guest rooms and a disarmingly cosy environment. The chic African style features classy warm colours with splashes of tribal red, and an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful artefacts, many of which are for sale. In summer a tranquil courtyard with a rectangular plunge pool, tables and loungers invites you to soak up the sun after a morning’s sightseeing. The soothing atmosphere continues indoors to a library, a dining room and lounge, all with fireplaces awaiting the crackle of a winter blaze: the perfect setting for your complimentary sherry or port.

Highs

  • We loved the tribal-arty adornments: papier-mâché elephant-head lights, fertility dolls from Ghana, ostrich eggs painted burnt orange...
  • We stayed in a Platinum Room during our 2013 revisit, and found it to be generously-sized and very comfortable
  • Relaxed, informal atmosphere with helpful staff. Usually one of the owners will sit down with you over a cup of coffee and help you plan your stay
  • You'll also meet the owners' 2 dachshunds, Monty and Taylor, who add an idiosyncratic quirkiness to the place
  • Located in Tamboerskloof: a quiet, leafy residential neighbourhood, yet within walking distance of some of the city's best restaurants

Lows

  • Sheer popularity makes it difficult to get in during high season
  • Not all rooms have mountain views, some have street or courtyard facing windows
  • No real garden - potted trees in a tiled courtyard
  • The pool is only big enough to cool off in
  • Some ‘house noise’ (mostly creaking floorboards) - a reminder that you're sharing an old home

Best time to go

All year round. High summer is from late September until the end of February, and March is delightful. April to September is referred to as the Green Season in the Cape (it sounds better than the rainy season) but days can be as hot as British summer time, without the fierce sunshine.

Our top tips

Owner Louis told us that, having stayed in hotels all over the world, he hated the thought of giving his guests a key and a map and then leaving them to their own devices. He likes to sit down with you upon arrival and give as much information as you need, so pick his brains to make the most of your time in Cape Town.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Foodie
  • = Makes the grade
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 11
  • Breakfast only
  • Over 12s Welcome
  • Closed: 14 Jun 2015 - 13 Jul 2015
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

One of the major advantages of linking 3 Victorian terraced houses is that the guest rooms are all generously proportioned with high ceilings and solid walls. Now beautifully decorated in what the owners refer to as restrained 'African Renaissance' style, all rooms are ensuite, with kingsize beds (or twins if you prefer) dressed in the softest white cotton percale linen. There are nice, firm mattresses and good hot showers. Each room is decorated individually with traditional Zulu wedding hats, funky lighting and a careful application of colours ranging from subtle creams to warm reds.

We stayed in one of the upper-floor Platinum Rooms - these are the largest rooms in the house yet they're eminently affordable. Those at the front have big private balconies with rattan furniture overlooking a quiet street; those at the rear have smaller balconies but good views of Table Mountain.

Of the cheaper rooms, Gold Rooms come with a bathtub and an overhead (or separate) shower. Although they don’t have balconies, some do still have views over the garden to Table Mountain. Silver Rooms are smaller and have showers only; most are on the first floor but there is one ground-floor room.

All rooms have a telephone, a flatscreen satellite TV, a security box, air-conditioning, free WiFi, a hairdryer and a tea/coffee station.

Features include:

  • Internet access
  • Wifi internet
  • Plunge pool
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Cd player
  • Wifi internet
  • Safe box
  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Fireplace
  • Fan
  • Extra beds
  • Minibar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar

Eating

Breakfast at An African Villa was probably one of our favourite things about our stay. Cereals, fruit salads, yoghurts and various homemade breads are laid out for guests to help themselves. Once settled at one of the tables (in the large dining room or out in the courtyard) there are endless deliveries of toast, pancakes and tea and coffee, while you choose from the English-style cooked breakfast menu: eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomato, hash browns and surprises like smoked salmon, tomato tart or pancakes with syrup.

No other meals are served, but there are dozens of excellent restaurants within walking distance - trendy Kloof Street, Cape Town's "dining golden mile", is a 5-minute stroll away. Limited kitchen facilities are also available for guests' use on those evenings when a sandwich or salad and glass of wine at home are more inviting.

Sherry, port, tea and coffee are complimentary. A range of other drinks is available from the honesty bar. You're also welcome to bring your own drinks and keep them in the guest fridge.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Food and wine
  • Minibar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • It's within very easy reach of Cape Town's major tourist attractions - the city centre is virtually on the doorstep (15 minutes' walk or 5 minutes by car), while Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town International Conference Centre are all a matter of minutes away by car or taxi

  • A well-planned written guide to life in the city, restaurants and other places of interest on the peninsula is provided for all guests, as well as a walking tour that takes you past all the key sights in the centre of the city - which we can recommend

  • The hotel's courtyard is sun-drenched in the summer, although the small plunge pool is really only large enough to cool off in. The library beckons with books left by past guests

  • Tours and car rentals are happily arranged by enthusiastic and well-informed staff

  • The city’s famous Atlantic beaches are a 10-minute drive away

  • Lion’s Head looms behind the house, inviting the fit to attempt its spiralling ascent

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Food and wine
  • History religious
  • Museum
  • Nightlife
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting
  • Shopping

Kids

Children over 12 years old are accepted. A third person can be accommodated in a Platinum Room for an extra cost.

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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