Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Rodwell House, St James

Bringing out the best

I ended my work day irritable, held hostage in a small room for too many unnecessary hours. I felt the most scratchy, ungrateful version of myself and struggled to let go of my grudge against my unproductive captor. Yet as I hit the classical St James high street, I couldn’t help but break out into a wide smile, especially knowing where I was headed. 

It is great fun finding a grand character building which represents the quintessential local architectural style of a quintessentially characterful area. The 1930’s Rodwell House in classical St James, Cape Town, not only rivals its neighbours in representing the typical architecture of the area, but it is situated in the most enviable position, overlooking the famous brightly coloured wooden huts of St James Beach. The house is set well back from the main road, and views over the estate’s pool and St James Tidal Pool beyond, stretch far out to the sea in the distance. The house backs onto an impressive mountain and there are striking vistas up the cliffs to the bluest of skies above.

I stay in the elegant Rodwell Suite, the scale of which is difficult to capture on camera. There are two seating areas and an indoor fireplace. A bank of windows maximises the fabulous views, as does the balcony onto which a private entrance opens. The suite has plush beige carpets, cream curtains with matching upholstered chairs and couch. An ochre  headboard resonates with the golden wood of the furniture, and a trendy tan leather reclining chair completes the effect. The look is very grown-up without being in the least bit staid. It has clearly been prepared by someone experienced in providing the best that accommodation establishments can offer.

What I love about Rodwell House:

  • The house itself is typical of the St James vernacular – a solid square stone double-storey building with deep arched verandahs and two perfectly symmetrical wings.
  • The setting over St James beach is softened by the long garden in front of the house, with a full length swimming pool, flanked by green covered pergolas on either side.
  • The entrance boasts a grand staircase and the main house and suites are full of antiques.
  • The House is also an art gallery and beautiful pieces of 20th-Century richly-coloured art work are displayed throughout.
  • The impressive lounge has a fireplace, deep red walls and matching patterned rugs.
  • Fabulous local cuisine is served in the bistro, or if it is quiet and cool intimate tables are brought into the lounge with a lit fire.
  • The service is warm, attentive and kind, and one is soon made to feel that this is one’s very own private estate.
  • The suites are spacious and stylishly decorated, with thoughtful attention to comfort, and with calm matching colours.
  • The bathrooms are beautifully modern, also managing a balance between being spacious and warm.
  • An enormous bath is gently back-lit with stylish lighting, reflecting down onto the large cream ceramic floor tiles and glossy fittings.

Accommodation Experience:
Sometimes once the initial excitement of a character stay settles, one also quite simply wishes for a good night’s sleep. I spread out in my huge soft bed, one of the most comfortable I have ever lain in. While I am reluctant to turn out the lights of my gorgeous suite, when I finally do I am pleased to find that the thick curtains are properly lined with blackout backing – yet another sign of thoughtful attention about the needs of perhaps a more mature traveller.

I lie there musing that some luxury accommodation brings out the worst in us – making us feel entitled, arrogant or even inferior. But other times, when we find a combination of elegance, kindness and warmth, it makes us feel humbled and deeply grateful. This is what I experienced at Rodwell House, which encouraged me to be a better version of myself. Who could have thought that my day and attitude could have been turned round so completely in only a few short hours – going from resentful and sorry for myself to feeling one of the luckiest people alive to have the privilege of staying in such a lovely place. 

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