Friday, 1 November 2013

Strandloper Boutique Hotel, Paternoster

A New Brand of Luxury

Here’s an idea: Pack yourself an elegant weekend bag (include camera), hop on a flight to Cape Town, pick up a snazzy little convertible, and head up the West coast for a weekend of spectacular scenery, fabulous food and inspiring accommodation. But beware – though there is much to do and see to distract oneself, the soulful nature of the West Coast will catch up with you in the end, to reconnect you with your true self. 

Working too hard for too long, I finally plan such a trip. Being in a demanding, stressy frame of mind, I know exactly what I want – a crisp white space (soulful rather than sterile), with doors opening right onto the beach, in a natural place of great beauty. Oh and of course I must have a heavenly bath with sea views. Not a lot to ask really. I search with intensity, unwilling to compromise on any one of these stringent criteria. And so when I open the website of the Strandloper Boutique Hotel ( ), I give a tight little gasp and set about determinedly to get what I wanted.

I had been expecting the highest quality finesse and impeccable standards of service, and the Strandloper Boutique Hotel did not fail to deliver on this score. But what I had not expected was a soft honesty that came from the organic touches in the décor, the traditional blue-grey and white buildings of the area, the white endless beaches and the turquoise seas.

Aptly named after the original beach walker inhabitants, the luxury hotel is set at the far end of the town of Paternoster and at the edge of a vast natural beach and fynbos nature reserve. Standalone suites, more like individual villas, face outwards towards the sea or open grasslands. Rimless glass doors fold back invisbly or wooden sliding doors recess into the adjacent walls to connect the interior and exterior. Thick whitewashed walls with deep-set shuttered windows and grey-blue painted frames give a Cycladean Greek Islands feel while honouring the traditional fisher cottage architecture of the region. White muslin curtains catch the gentle sea breeze.

The suites have cleverly integrated luxuries, including air-conditioning, Nespresso coffee machines, and heated towel rails. Heavenly wide baths and outdoor showers make the most of the ocean and nature views. In my spacious suite there are two indoor seating areas and a full scale dining table. There are two outdoor seating areas, one perfectly placed sundowner table and chairs, as well as two cushioned recliners.  

The service is professional and friendly, and the meals are everything that one would ask of a seaside luxury resort in the food capital of the West Coast. The accomplished chef makes the most of local produce - seafood of course, but also local olives, cheeses and sun-dried fruit.

Accommodation Experience:
There is a new brand of luxury accommodation emerging. It has less to do with ostentatious bling and more to do with soulful contact with nature. Think full height glass windows and doors, outdoor seating areas to make the most of morning and evening sun, understated and organic décor, smooth floors and beachfront settings. This is barefoot luxury at its best.

From my ocean-front suite at the Strandloper Boutique Hotel, I sit in bed with the sounds, smells and sea breeze within touching distance. It is almost dawn and the setting moon spills over the sea. A layer of mist gradually lifts off the ocean and the curl of the waves begin to catch the rising sun. I feel a bit foolish about my intense and suspicious demands and allow an interior softening to the loveliness of this place. 

While a place like this creatively makes the most of its stunning setting, I realize one cannot create or control such moments, only gratefully receive them as they are given. The great Persian poet Hafiz writes:

There are so many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday
There are so many handcrafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.

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