A bastion of culture and elegance in Bantry Bay, Ellerman House is an art-filled escape in an Edwardian mansion. Each of the 13 rooms is spacious and bright, but the hotel offers plenty to explore outside the room. The estate pays tribute to South African culture, with two centuries of local art spread throughout the house, including in a dedicated gallery. Outside, stroll the terraced gardens or grab chairs by the ocean-facing pool. Even the restaurant is a tribute to the country, with elevated regional specialties best paired with local wines from the 7,500-bottle collection.
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A paired chocolate and South African brandy tasting; Smith guests also get 10 per cent off their first spa treatment
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £489.52 (ZAR11,000), including tax at 15 per cent.
Rates include buffet breakfast, airport transfers, beverages (excluding wine), sunset cocktails and laundry. A 24-hour pantry is stocked throughout the day with fresh fruit, baked goods and beverages.
The hotel is home to a renowned collection of more than 1,000 works of South African art, spanning 200 years. The Contemporary Gallery holds pieces from some of the most notable talents in the country today, including Wayne Barker and Angus Taylor.
There's construction taking place at a neighbouring site; it's not visible from Ellerman House, but your stay might involve some noise and dust.
At the hotel
Gardens, on-site parking, gym, library, 24-hour guest pantry, free WiFi. In rooms: television, heated floors, air-conditioning, in-room bar and snack drawer, hair dryer, international adaptor.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the 12 rooms has unique accents, but the rooms in the Deluxe House have private terraces and prime ocean views.
Tucked into gardens on the lower terrace of the hotel, the adults-only heated lap pool has Atlantic Ocean views. It’s flanked by black-and-white-striped lounge chairs.
Tucked away in Villa One, the spa holds three individual treatment rooms and a couples' massage room, along with a sauna and steam room. Treatments include massages, facials, beauty treatments and stretches that are ideal after long-haul flights.
Bring a taste for fine wine: The staff maintain a collection of 7,500 bottles showcasing the best of South African varietals and vintages. Try some at the free daily wine tasting, then request a tour of the wine gallery.
The hotel is not wheelchair-accessible.
Over-14s only, so plan to leave the younger ones at home.
Choose a table by the window for perfect views out to the water.
Plan on smart slacks and scarves to suit the art, view and fine wines.
Open only to hotel residents, the Ellerman House restaurant pays tribute to local flavours. Chef Grant Daniels combines his Cape Malay heritage with the ingredients contemporary South African cuisine and refined French techniques. The kitchen sources organic produce from local markets for dishes that change seasonally, and can include a hearty braise lamb shoulder similar to what Daniels enjoyed at family meals as a child. With large windows facing the bay, the elegant room is ideal for romantic dinners paired with a bottle from the hotel’s wine cellar.
The contemporary Bar Roc is a great place to try South African spirits, including the house Ellermantini, made with South African gin. There is a full bar menu, with burrata, pork belly and other dishes. The bar hosts local musicians every Monday. The Wine Gallery is open by request for tastings and tours.
Breakfast is available from 7am to 11am, lunch from noon to 2:30pm and dinner from 6 to 10pm, though the staff gladly accommodate guests’ preferred times; Bar Roc is open to guests anytime.
Though there is no dedicated room service, guests can dine any time of day, wherever they would like, choosing options from the restaurant menu.
Ellerman House is located in Bantry Bay, north of Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Cape Town International is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. Direct flights are available on British Airways. For longer-haul flights or alternate airlines, expect to connect through Johannesburg, the country’s hub. Transfers are included.
Cape Town Station is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, and connects to the wine country.
Many people heading out to explore the wine country or drive down the cape like to hire a car. The hotel offers free valet parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Ellerman House is a tribute to some of South Africa’s best treasures, including wines from the nearby Winelands and art from prominent South Africans. Explore both with guided tours and tastings. The hotel can arrange for a custom tour of the art collection with a guide, who can share stories of the works and describe the annual charity art auction, held on-site, which raises money to provide local schools with state-of-the-art technology. Enjoy South African wines at the daily tastings, or arrange for a tour of the Wine Gallery, which uses interactive multimedia to catalogue the bottles; the space also holds a brandy lounge and champagne cellar, ensuring the ideal tipples for every taste.
On warm sunny days, nab sun loungers by the pool, ideally facing out over Bantry Bay. The hotel is a nice stroll away from the beach, though the Atlantic waters off Cape Town are often too cold for all, but the bravest of swimmers.
There is plenty to see in beautiful Cape Town. Head for photogenic Bo-Kaap, which was originally founded by freed slaves, and is still home to many of their descendents. Stroll the streets peeping the bright, candy-coloured homes, or hire a guide to better absorb the area's rich history. Learn more about the history of South Africa, including apartheid, with a visit to Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town. Nelson Mandela served the majority of his 27-year sentence here. The prison is now a museum, which has preserved Mandela's cell. The hotel can arrange for ferry and tour tickets.
Cape Town is quite cosmopolitan, with fantastic shops and cafes packed with glamorous locals. Head for Greenmarket Square, home to stylish Bree Street and boutiques like Missibaba and Sam, stocking South African-produced goods.
Chefs Warehouse, in Greenmarket Square, reinvents tapas with a three-course fixed menu showcasing local products. If the contemporary dishes inspire, guests can pick up chef-quality kitchen goods in the shop next door. The menu changes daily at Black Sheep on Kloof Street in Gardens, but is always driven by seasonal produce. Look for slow-roasted meats, fresh salads and creative curries. Set in a silo in Woodstock, with fantastic city views, the Pot Luck Club, from renowned chef Luke Dale-Roberts, draws culinary inspiration from around the world. The small-plates menu is categorized by defining flavours, such as salty, umami or sour, and can include options like beef tataki with hoisin sauce, or the signature fish sliders.
For perfect picnic fare or a casual lunch, the General Store, on Bree Street, specializes in excellent sandwiches and bright salads that take advantage of the local bounty. Pause for a scoop at Unframed Ice Cream on Kloof Street, which churns ultra-creative flavors like blue coconut — coloured with spirulina — and chocolate-tahini.
Stepping out of Cape Town’s International Airport and into the friendly clutches of Ellerman House’s staff with their idling luxury vehicle, I immediately know I am in for a treat. My friendly driver Isaac winds us around Cape Town’s spectacular curves, with its breathtaking views over Table Mountain and the Atlantic at every turn, before pulling into boutique hideaway Ellerman House in the exclusive Cape Town enclave of Bantry Bay. At this stage, it’s hard to really gauge the extent of this elegant Edwardian mansion’s beauty. It’s only after stepping into the lobby of the ‘house’ (not a hotel, as I’m reminded), you really start to get a sense of the luxury and grandeur that await within.
The House’s attentive staff greet you warmly, and a quick introductory tour reveals an impressive amount of art (from the owner Paul Harris’s private collection) – the works of Australian artist David Bromley immediately catch my eye – and takes us through grand drawing and dining rooms, weaving through luxurious, lavishly hued interiors. It reveals the house’s very special touches, such as their ‘snack room’ (my personal favorite), filled to the brim with seemingly unlimited jars (filled with cookies, cake, chocolates…), that you can happily help yourself to at any time, day or night. Guests also have the freedom and privilege of being able to access the chefs and their kitchen directly – just press a button and the glass sliding-door opens, allowing you to make personal requests for any meal of the day. It’s thoughtful, tailored-to-you service. I would excitedly hole up at my breakfast table by the window each morning, looking over the beautiful gardens and out to the ocean as I decided which delicious meal would tickle my fancy that day. And there’s a perfectly-curated menu, too, with a steady stream of extras on offer: juices, smoothies, good coffee – the works.
The House itself has just 13 rooms, and two modern private villas, available to rent as well. I’m talking luxe, folks. Super luxe. They’re ideal for those seeking exclusivity and privacy. The views from the terraced garden and pool area are drop-dead gorgeous. Kicking back with a Campari in hand, as the sun goes down over the Atlantic, is a moment you will treasure long after you leave. It’s amazing how the House’s staff manage to get it right every time: whether it be remembering your favorite bottle of wine to place in your room, or topping up your favourite flavour in the in-room cookie jar, or the fact you have a driver on tap to chauffeur you where you please – the service here is incredibly well-considered.
Wine-lovers will rejoice as they enter the Ellerman House Wine Gallery. I couldn’t believe my
eyes as I was shown the 7,500-bottle-heavy wine cellar – an impressive glass structure modelled after a giant corkscrew, with a wall crafted using soil from nearby wineries where bottles featured in the gallery are grown. And it’s not just the sunsets here that will blow your mind. If you are an early bird, there is no way you can miss a sunrise hike up to the top of Lion’s Head. The kind folk at Ellerman drove me up the mountain at some ungodly hour to the start of the trailhead one morning and returned to pick me up a couple of hours later. The sky’s pink-orange-purple display as you’re scaling the incredibly challenging slopes is spectacular, with the sun rising on one side, the moon disappearing on the other.
From Ellerman you can also easily access the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, both a short walk along the cliffs. But really, the true beauty of Ellerman is that there’s no need to leave. With above-and-beyond staff – and, yes, an impressive array of snacks – this is such a special experience, one that well and truly exceeds anything else I have encountered on my travels so far.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Ellerman House’s Guestbook below.
Best property we have stayed at in the world. Everything was exceptional, absolutely nothing but a 10. And the African art throughout the property is museum in and of itself, amazing.