For many travelers, a visit to Cape Town, South Africa is a bucket list trip so it’s important to choose the right accommodations. The city offers various types of hotels and resorts. But if you’re looking for a boutique experience, read on for our review of Ellerman House.
Ellerman House is boutique luxury at its finest, situated in a premier Cape Town neighborhood and perched on the mountainside of Lion’s Head. Though the hotel is small, with only 11 units and 2 three-bedroom villas, the property more than makes up for its size with its upscale amenities, first-class service, and breathtaking views. The rating as a 5-star hotel is well-deserved.
Constructed in 1906 for prestigious shipping magnates Sir John and Lady Ellerman, the property received an extensive overhaul and opened as a hotel in 1992. The main building retained the original architecture as an Edwardian mansion, preferring to modernize only within the new extension that houses two indulgent villas. Most units boast private balconies that provide incredible, unprecedented views of Cape Town below and Bantry Bay just beyond. Conveniently, the hotel is a mere 10-minute jaunt from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and is within walking distance of Clifton and Camps Bay Beaches.
Five different room configurations are available within the main house, each of which is individually decorated (as shown above with two Deluxe Rooms). The Classic House Room, Superior House Room, Deluxe Spa Room, Deluxe Room, and multi-room Ellerman House Suites all feature different sizes and layouts. The larger units boast balconies and the iconic view while the smaller units are without. Each room comes complete with air conditioning and heated floors, an ensuite bathroom, satellite TV, in-room snacks and beverages for between meals, and unlimited Wi-Fi access. Rates are based on room size and amenities. Rates also include full breakfast daily, unlimited beverages including the finest wines and spirits, cocktails and canapes at sunset, laundry service, and return airport transfers.
Adjacent to the main house, two modern, multi-level villas can be found with private staff. These elegant multi-bedroom accommodations come with all the same benefits as the accommodations listed above but offer more privacy, luxury, and space, as well the option of large families or groups staying together. Each villa has its own infinity pool and sweeping views of Cape Town and the ocean.
Hotel amenities include a spa and fitness room, a library, an intimate dining room that serves deliciously elegant meals created by international chefs, a modest bar with limited seating, a fully stocked pantry where guests can enjoy between meals snacks, and a compact studio containing unique African art for purchase. The main house also contains a grand living room with a piano and a fireplace – the perfect space for guests to gather in the evenings and get to know one another. Given this type of atmosphere with such small common areas, Ellerman House oftentimes feels more like an intimate bed and breakfast than a 5-star hotel.
The hotel also features a heated outdoor lap pool on the front lawn terrace. Surrounded by thickly padded sun loungers, this area is perfect for relaxation and boasts fantastic views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean both day and night.
PROS: With the exception of the high rates (which are to be expected for this type of luxury), almost everything at Ellerman House qualifies as a PRO. The views are breathtaking, the rooms are clean and beautiful, the service is first-rate, and the food is outstanding. Though on-site amenities are small and few, they are unique and memorable and add to the experience of a stay here.
CONS: Not all rooms have a view or balcony so guests will need to specify their needs and desires when booking. Given the high-end residential area in which Ellerman House is located, there is no nearby shopping nor local bars or restaurants if guests wish to dine elsewhere – certainly nothing within walking distance. The hotel does provide transportation via complimentary car service, but guests cannot rely on it being available if other guests are already booked or en route. If this is the case, the hotel can arrange for a taxi, which isn’t overly expensive considering most shopping and restaurants are within 10 minutes of the hotel by car.