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Hotel Highlights

  • Cultured hosts and a beautiful property with a 15,000-bottle wine cellar
  • Far from the madding crowd in an arty seaside enclave just outside Cape Town
  • Your stay is totally bespoke: arrange anything from wine-tasting to fighter-jet flights

Overview

In the breezy seaside village of St James, quietly refined Rodwell House is the ideal place to stay if you want to escape Cape Town's tourist bustle. Lovingly restored to its parquet-floored, marble-columned, clipped-lawn glory, this poised 1930s mansion houses an elegant boutique hotel, an impressive collection of 20th-century art, a huge wine cellar and two passionate hosts, who will do their utmost to give you ‘whatever you want’.

Smith Extra

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

A special gift on departure, such as a bottle of wine chosen for you

Facilities

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Rodwell House hotel - Cape Town - South Africa

Need To Know

Rooms

Eight: six suites and two double rooms.

Check–out

11am. Check-in, 2pm, but flexible subject to availability. Guests arriving early or leaving late can use the day shower and the gym.

Rates

Double rooms from $163.61 (ZAR1,737), excluding tax at 14 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

Also

The kitchen can prepare you a fabulous picnic for two to take down to the beach (or just to the pool if you’re feeling lazy). A hire car’s not a bad idea – you’re about 40 minutes from the centre of Cape Town.

At the hotel

Gardens, courtyard, gym, library, wine cellar, boules pitch. In rooms: plasma-screen TV/DVD player, complimentary WiFi, tea/coffee and minibar, underfloor heating in bathrooms.

Our favourite rooms

Most rooms have balconies or terraces, as well as oversized beds, twin sinks, freestanding baths big enough for two and walk-in showers; prices reflect room size, but none are really small. Our top picks include the Rodwell Suite for its sea-view balcony and antique leather recliners, or Kalk Bay for its open-plan bathroom, entered through an arched wooden door – both are romantic; and smaller, quieter Mountain, which is very pretty and sunlit in the afternoon. The Proprietors is the executive suite, set in the gardens with an internal courtyard.

Poolside

The beautiful pool is fed by a mountain spring, and there are chaises longues to stretch out on; you can also walk down to the tidal pools below the gardens for an invigorating saltwater swim.

Packing tips

Bathrobes and luxury toiletries are already taken care of. Make a note of friends’ favourite wines; Rodwell House has an amazing cellar and can ship what you buy.

Also

Personal training, private yoga, beauty treatments and a variety of sports activities can be arranged. The property is non-smoking and has a silent-mobile policy.

Children

Well-behaved children welcome; it’s not ideal for toddlers. Under 12s stay in their parents’ room for R500 per night. Babysitting can be arranged with 24 hours’ notice and costs R100 per hour.

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Food & Drink

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Rodwell House hotel - Cape Town - South Africa

Hotel Restaurant

The chef uses whatever’s freshest from the sea or kitchen garden that day for his Med-style dishes. You'll mostly eat outside, but the dining room, Electric Orange, is a pumpkin-coloured, teak-floored corker hung with stunning canvases.

Hotel Bar

The Art Bar is an architect’s pet project in contemporary concrete, with soft leather couches and iPod docks. Beyond is the pièce de résistance: a 15,000-bottle cellar and tasting room. Pull up a bright green chair and let Robin wow you with wines.

Last orders

Pretty flexible; you’ll be asked whether you’re eating at the house in the morning. When the barman leaves, you’ll be trusted to help yourself – and Joanne has been known to rustle up midnight snacks.

Room service

You can order special wines or champagnes to be brought to your room if you don’t find what you fancy in your minibar; light bites are available 9am–10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Whatever you feel like (which may well be foppish Keith Floyd casuals or an arty smock-top ensemble).

Top table

Sit at the communal terrace table near the barbecue, and owners Robin and Joanne may join you to share their passion for food, wine and art. Private tables can also be set up in the light and airy lounge.

Local Guide

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

Worth getting out of bed for

Rodwell House co-owner Robin will take time to get to know you, and suggest activities and sights that you’ll really enjoy. A fairly obvious thing to begin with would be a tour of his amazing cellar and some wine-tasting classes.

You’re right on the coast – Muizenberg, Fishhoek and Dalebrook beaches are all close – so swimming, kayaking, body-boarding and kite surfing are on offer nearby (all the relevant kit can be hired locally).

You could potter down to Kalk Bay and poke about in the little crafts and antiques shops, or try birdwatching in Rodwell House’s gardens or in one of two local bird sanctuaries. Walk a little down the coast and swim in the remarkable tidal rock pools at Dalebrooke – if you want, Rodwell House can arrange for a marine biologist to come with you and talk you through the secret life of the sea; honestly, it’s fascinating. Or just ask for a picnic and take that along instead.

Stretch your legs and enjoy the spectacular view from the top of Table Mountain. There are many routes up, but the route from Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (+27 (0)21 799 8783) will make you glad you huffed and puffed your way up there.

Local restaurants

Live Bait on Kalk Bay’s harbour (+27 (0)21 788 5755) is a fantastic seafood restaurant with a warm, relaxed atmosphere. Ask for a corner table overlooking the sea. Harbour House is another good bet for fresh fish; it’s just above Live Bait. At 134 Main Road, Olympia Café in Kalk Bay (+27 (0)21 788 6396) is a tiny, bustling eatery. Don't be deterred by its humble appearance – it's hugely characterful and popular. You might have to queue for a table, but it's well worth it for the fresh ingredients and fantastic bread baked on site by chef Kenneth McClarty.

Local bars

In Kalk Bay, The Polana restaurant on the harbour (+27 (0)21 788 7162) has huge windows overlooking the wave-lashed rocks. It has a very chilled-out bar area with big leather sofas that’s a favourite with cocktail-sipping, backgammon-playing locals. Have a few Portuguese-influenced starters and an eyeful of ocean for mains (or nip next door to Live Bait for dinner).

Local cafés

The surfers, bikers and ageing rockers at 1960s hangout Muizenberg Village make stopping at one of the little ice-cream bars and cafés a people-watching dream come true.

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Boho St James fishing village

Rodwell House

Rodwell House, Rodwell Road, St James, Cape Town, South Africa, 7945

Planes

Cape Town’s airport is a 35-minute drive from the hotel. A shuttle bus runs to Cape Town Civic Centre every 15 minutes (or half hour off peak) between 4am and midnight.

Trains

Rodwell House is a 25-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 hotel is 40 minutes out of the centre of Cape Town, so some wheels will be useful. There’s secure off-street parking. From the airport, take the N2 and then the M3.

Reviews

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Rodwell House hotel - Cape Town - South Africa

Anonymous review

by Juliet Kinsman , On-the-go editor at Mr & Mrs Smith

We’ve been in the car for six hours. So would you believe it when I say that as we hit the final stretch of coastal road we’d have been happy for our drive to keep going? Lush rolling scrubland that almost looks manicured, kites bobbing around among gulls beyond white sweeping sand dunes. It’s a dramatic end to our Garden Route journey. As instructed, we keep our eyes peeled for …
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Rodwell House

Anonymous review by Juliet Kinsman, On-the-go editor

We’ve been in the car for six hours. So would you believe it when I say that as we hit the final stretch of coastal road we’d have been happy for our drive to keep going? Lush rolling scrubland that almost looks manicured, kites bobbing around among gulls beyond white sweeping sand dunes. It’s a dramatic end to our Garden Route journey. As instructed, we keep our eyes peeled for the brightly coloured beach huts of St James just past Muizenburg – our cue to turn off to Rodwell House.

St James is unlike parts of Cape Town we’ve stayed in before, and it feels like a sleepy, upscale residential neighbourhood in Europe. It’s especially incongruous here in this African enclave to discover at the end of a cul de sac, a respectable hotel. Occupying a prime position on the peninsular coast. 500km in the car melt away as we’re met warmly by Chris the manager, and made to feel instantly relaxed. The decor of Rodwell House is more traditional than many of the self-conscious boutique hotels on the circuit, with an array of 20th-century masterpieces around every corner. Stone statues, African carvings, and modern impressionist South African oil paintings are some of the owner, Robin’s valuable collection.

With the sun low, we ponder what to do for supper. But as fancy as the in-house menu looks, my banana-loathing other half blanches when he spots the starter. He suggests we hold off eating here until tomorrow night. A cold curried soup starring this very fruit leaves him suggesting a quick lie-down before we venture out to choose from the many cafés and restaurants within walking distance. Any mentions of yellow you-know-whats are forgiven.

Our huge suite is more contemporary than we were expecting, and the chic beige décor quickly has him feeling revived. All we can hear is the whoosh of waves crashing below and happy-as-can-be local children in the tidal pool right across the coastal road. A freshen up in the open-plan bathroom and we are really ready to stretch our legs – all six of them. This Smith couple is travelling with a junior. And so far she too is utterly smitten with Rodwell House. Not least because there are so many stairs through the beautiful landscaped gardens to test out her newly acquired bipedal action.

Our walk to Kalk Bay is via a beach full of surfers, and it’s feeling more Cornwall than Africa. Chic boutique after cute gift shop, ice-cream parlour after friendly café, but best of all is the discovery this pretty boat-filled harbour comes complete with seals frolicking in the water. We’ve been recommended the hip Harbour Club but as we’re with a toddler, we opt for the more informal Live Bait restaurant and it’s tempting offering of fresh fish and chips. We treat ourselves to the best bottle of white wine and still have change from R250, which works out as about a third of what it would for us at home in London.

If we didn’t have a nipper, we’d be spoiled for cocktail spots to choose from – the margaritas in Hananero’s look particularly enticing – but instead our vast open-plan suite beckons. By morning, the blackout curtains mean there’s no indication that the sun is beating down outside and we all enjoy a lie in. Although we still pitch up first for breakfast. Oh the joys of parenthood. After a little confusion over who’s eating what, world-class sausages and bacon swiftly compensate for having to be up so bright and early. Particularly when it comes with a side order of that grandstand sea view. Glorious spectacle enough, it’s made all the more interesting by the occasional interruption of the coastal train.

Now you may think we’ve mentioned enough about food, but a fun part about holidaying here is the obsessing about where our next meal is coming from. A lunch of the plumpest juiciest mussels at the legendary Olympia Café under our ever-tightening belts and we skip the tempting option of a tour of the wine route of Constantia and head south, south, south for a winning dose of nature. Now, you try explaining to an 18-month-old how it is that a colony of penguins come to be living in abundance on a sun-drenched sandy shoreline of Africa. I’ll sidestep the temptation to throw in a ‘it’s pretty black and white’ pun and just implore you to visit Boulders Beach Simons Town if ever the chance is available.

It was by happy coincidence we were back at this wonderful hotel on Valentine’s Day in time for the home-cooked spread in the low-key yet suitably formal feel of Rodwell House’s sitting room. For an evening we could pretend we were in the first flushes, while a baby monitor keeps an unintrusive link to the third person in our party. Meanwhile, superlative offerings from Rodwell House’s award-worthy private wine cellar helped make it all the more romantic. Just try not to feel in love on a balmy evening on this fine hotel’s terrace, when you have a glass of Steenberg Merlot in hand, the moonlit landscaped gardens in sight and the sound of the sea in the distance. A chic hideaway heaven-sent for romance – just don’t mention that banana soup.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Rodwell House's Guestbook below.

 

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