Hotel Highlights

  • Great value hidey-hole minutes from the Cape Town bar/restaurant scene
  • Utterly dedicated personal service
  • Huge outdoor pool perfect for day-long lounging

Overview

When Jo and Carol first began planning Derwent House, they did so with the express intention of creating a boutique hotel they’d want to stay in, somewhere with a warm welcome, impeccable service and a sense of contemporary style that never slid into pretentiousness. Not only have they succeeded but, in a matter of months, they’ve also made the fabulously located Derwent House one of the most desirable destinations in Cape Town.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Derwent House with us:

A glass of local wine on arrival; return cable-car tickets to Table Mountain for bookings of three or more nights

Facilities

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Derwent House - Cape Town - South Africa

Need To Know

Rooms

10, including one self-catering suite.

Check–out

11am, but later check-out is possible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $133.64 (ZAR1,404), excluding tax at 14 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast, tea, coffee and cake throughout the day. There's a surcharge of R100 a night between 20 December and 15 January.

Also

If you’re staying a while or bringing a youngster, you should nab Room 9, the self-catering suite. The extra sofa bed and the small kitchen make it the most flexible option.

At the hotel

Library, DVD selection, free WiFi throughout, wireless sound system. In rooms: plasma TV, DVD/CD player, natural Ecoco toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

It’s hard to beat Room 3’s mountain views from the bath, but we were won over by serene Room 2, with its Victorian claw-footed bath tub and the secluded private deck area. Room 10 is the most isolated; under the shade of an old oak, it boasts its own hot tub on the deck. Derwent House classifies its rooms as either ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Fabulous’ depending on the size and quality of the view but, to be honest, we’d gladly bed down in either category.

Poolside

The outdoor lap pool is one of Derwent House’s big assets. It’s much larger than you’d expect from a hotel this size and the sun-bleached raised verandah alongside is a fab spot to snooze on one of the crisp wooden loungers.

Packing tips

As long as you have clothes to wear and a swimsuit to splash around in, Derwent House can take care of everything else – it can even loan you a laptop.

Also

Smoking is allowed on the decks and terraces. The hotel can get you temporary free passes to the local Virgin Active gym, and beauty treatments or massages at nearby spas.

Children

Although kids are welcome, this is more of an adults’ getaway.

Eco‐friendly

The hotel solar heats all its water and uses low-energy light fittings wherever it can. All chemicals used tick eco-boxes, too.

Food & Drink

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Derwent House - Cape Town - South Africa

Hotel Restaurant

Although Derwent House doesn’t serve dinner, it pools all of its culinary energies into a mouthwatering breakfast, ranging from a cold Continental selection of meats, cheeses and fruits to full English fry-ups and smoked fish.

Hotel Bar

A well-stocked fridge in the lounge area makes up the honesty bar, so you can settle down with a nightcap (or a pick-me-up) whenever and wherever you like.

Room service

The hotel is staffed 24 hours a day, but you can help yourself to drinks and snacks whenever you want.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Swimwear for staying in, eveningwear for going out.

Top table

The verandah’s a charming spot to enjoy a poolside alfresco breakfast.

Local Guide

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Derwent House - Cape Town - South Africa
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Derwent House is a few seconds' stroll from the heartland of Cape Town dining, Kloof Street. More South Beach than South Africa, Manolo (+27 (0)21 422 4747), in a zhuzhed-up Victorian house, is a good place to start your culinary journey. It’s only open for supper from 7pm, and it’s by no means the cheapest option in town, but the European, Asian and South African flavours are suitably sophisticated, as is the clientele. For simple, no-nonsense Vietnamese and sushi, head to Saigon (+27 (0)21 424 7670) on the corner of Camp Street – a refreshing change from the superabundance of Thai and Chinese in the city. Café Gainsbourg (+27 (0)21 422 1780) – a chilled café-style spot – dishes up some exquisite Mediterranean flavours. Feast on hearty fare cooked with an Italian influence (try the beef ravioli or pork belly with sweet potato fondant) at Societi Bistro, at 50 Orange Street, Gardens (+27 (0)21 424 2100).

Local cafés

Vide e Caffe (+27 (0)21 426 0627) and Manna ( +27 (0)21 426 2413), both on Kloof Street, are ideal stop-offs for brunches and posh snacking.

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Happening city-side suburb

Derwent House

14 Derwent Road, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, 8001

Planes

Cape Town’s airport is a half-hour drive from the hotel; transfers can be arranged. A shuttle bus runs to Cape Town Civic Centre every 15 minutes (or half hour off peak) between 4am and midnight. From here, it’s a 10-minute journey by car on to the hotel.

Trains

Derwent House is a five-minute drive from the city’s main railway station. Travel to Worcester, Beaufot West, Kroonstad and Bloemfontein with luxury companies Blue Train (www.bluetrain.co.za) and Rovos Rail (www.rovos.com).

Automobiles

The V&A Waterfront, Convention Centre and several beaches are a short drive away, so a car may be useful. If you haven’t got your own, hire cars and private drivers can be arranged. From the airport, take the N2 towards Cape Town and Eastern Boulevard. There’s free off-street parking.

Reviews

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Derwent House - Cape Town - South Africa

Anonymous review

by Rob Crossan , Lifestyle luminary

Cape Town in summer. Surely that conjures dazzling images of tanned beautiful people in multitudes that would leave a Vogue photographer in tears? Beaches with sand the colour of molten bikini wax. A tingling cold denim-blue ocean collapsing into a waxy sunset as more limited-edition Chenin Blanc tumbles into your fishbowl-size wine glass as you sit gazing at Table Mountain…

...
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Derwent House

Anonymous review by Rob Crossan, Lifestyle luminary

Cape Town in summer. Surely that conjures dazzling images of tanned beautiful people in multitudes that would leave a Vogue photographer in tears? Beaches with sand the colour of molten bikini wax. A tingling cold denim-blue ocean collapsing into a waxy sunset as more limited-edition Chenin Blanc tumbles into your fishbowl-size wine glass as you sit gazing at Table Mountain…

The dreamcatchers must have been having an off day when it comes to this Smith pair’s escape. It’s November, the start of high season, and Cape Town resembles a wet Sunday in North Wales. A howling South-Easter makes our car lurch down the freeway towards the centre of the Mother City like a street drinker towards an unguarded off-licence. Even Table Mountain has a dung heap of cloud planted squarely on top of it that is thicker than a Stringfellows doorman.

Rain turns from petulant drizzle into bilious torrent as we check into the modest, 10-bedroom former residential home handsomely converted by Jo Campbell and her partner. These two Brits from the rainy north sensibly decided a few years ago to up sticks and head to the furthest tip of Africa. Derwent House, located in the upmarket, residential neighbourhood of Tamboerskloof, is so discreet that it comes across positively bashful from the outside. Adjacent to Gardens, this patch is a jumble of video stores, Vietnamese restaurants and handsomely curvy, vaguely art deco Thirties apartment blocks that look like they would be perfect in LA as retirement homes for ageing Hollywood stars.

Our bedroom at this boutique bolthole is on the small side but is demurely decorated in muted hues of greys and browns that create a simple, but homely sensation. There is a fine view from the window looking down upon the swimming pool: a sizable beast, complete with waterfall, hugged by wooden decking and some slinky black sunloungers. As the turbulent skies darken for a Saturday night on the town my other half and I enjoy a ferociously good shower that creates a steam mist throughout the room that even Shackleton would have lost his bearings in.

Dinner is just down the road at the beloved Societi Bistro on Orange Street. It’s a candle-lit warren of rooms where we make the most of South Africa’s reputation for seafood by attacking giant plates of oysters from the west coast of the country and a gobsmacking long-fin tuna-adorned Niçoise salad. Staggering back along the nearby nightlife hub of Long Street a few hours – and cocktails, beers and tequilas – later, we discover there is free port and brandy awaiting us in Derwent House’s living room.

Gazing at paintings of solemn African faces painted by Mandela himself, and slumped in the modish brown leather sofas and easy chairs, we decompress over coffees and a night-time treat of free carrot cake. Meanwhile, even at this late hour, other couples are lazing unselfconsciously in front of the fire tinkering with their Macs. For vague edification, we plunder a pile of dog-eared travel guides to South Africa. The longer we spend here in this bush-meets-boho setting, the more we realise that Derwent House, is less a guesthouse, more like spending a weekend house-sitting for an alpha couple who are regularly jetting off to finalise blueprints for an art installation pieces in Zurich.

Back in our room, we find the obligatory on-pillow chocolates but also, more intriguingly, a rolled-up scroll. Mrs Smith suggests rather unromantically that this must be our bill. Or a reminder that the port and brandy really was free. Instead, the small pamphlet reveals to us sunset and sunrise times for the next day, also flagging up celebrity birthdays and famous events that occurred on this date in history. I’m not sure what sends me to sleep first – the earlier tequila shots, or knowing that today 12 years ago, Chinese engineers successfully dammed the Yangtze River – but either way, we both slip into slumbers within seconds.

Uncharacteristically, there’s no let-up with the storm-sodden weather the following morning, but the offer of a sublimely good cooked breakfast – despite a power cut for half of Cape Town – is of no small compensation. Taking our morning coffees onto the balcony, Mrs Smith observes that how different the daytime atmosphere of Derwent House is. Couples bustle in and out, huddling over maps, plotting road trips up the Garden Route into the vineyards of the Western Cape. It feels like this is a hotel for people who want to get their missions accomplished with speed. This veranda now feels less suited to slow G&Ts with John Cheever types, more a rendezvous for hatching plans on how to make the most of the Mother City and its surroundings.

We depart from Derwent House for a trip up the lonely West Coast of the country, where bijou fisherman’s villages lie undisturbed and unironically rustic accommodation is the only option. Cosmopolitan Cape Town may be considered by many to be a sunny, liberal bubble at the edge of South Africa. And if Derwent House is anything to go by, it’s a stylish bubble that one hopes, even with power cuts and bedside trivia, won’t burst for many years to come.

The Guestbook

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