In the moments few and far between, when you need peace and relaxation, there are only a smattering of destinations in Western Cape, ideal for idyllic repose.
Paternoster is one of Western Cape’s distant coastal treasures. The fishing village is one of the oldest in South Africa’s West Coast. Roadtrip 160km to Paternoster, from the cosmopolitan Cape Town, and find yourself smoothly journeying alongside dusky brown landscapes towards a hazy seaside dream.
If you happen to power through the trip, spend the weekend relaxing at the five-star Abalone House & Spa.
Abalone House is the epitome of eclectic bohemia; marrying the rustic escapism of sleepy seaside towns with tempered eclectic decadence, which luxury boutique hotels and guesthouses are notoriously celebrated for.
Guests are greeted with bubbly, and a seat at a quiet table with a panoramic view of one of South Africa’s best coastlines. If you don’t immediately experience your body letting go of its tension and exhaustion, you must not be soaking in this places’ visual gift.
Abalone House refuses archetypal check-in procedure by letting you relax somewhere nice-looking while they do all the boring admin stuff – that alone is a treat!
I had to pried away from the view, to my suite.
Architectural Style: 9/10
Abalone House & Spa does not mar the Greek isles aesthetic Paternoster is rolling with.
The guesthouse blends in with its neighboring whitewashed fishermen’s houses and blue shutters. It seems unassuming with its humble exterior, indigenous gardens, and thatch roof, but its interior design – laden with stone floors, wooden walkways and even French-style doors – reveals an intimate opulence inspired by artist Vladimir Tretchikoff.
Decor & Character: 8/10
I’m a sucker for rich colors, elegant furnishings, and treasured eclectic antiquities.
Abalone House is encumbered with the owners own objects d’art, treasured memorabilia, crystal chandeliers and even Persian rugs with the most vibrant hues – and that’s just in the common areas of the guesthouse.
My suite amalgamated modern furnishings with wicker furniture, restored antiquities that should actually be at Sotheby’s auction house, a wooden roof, and gorgeous jewel-colored fabrics.
Abalone doesn’t ooze character, but reveals it with austere control – whether that be in its potted plants, signature Tretchikoff wall prints, ‘African’ ornaments, or the entire grandeur of the guesthouse’s “eclectic visual tapestry” as Abalone states on their website.
Choose Abalone House and you’ll be privy to, not only one of ten lovely and fully equipped suite, but welcoming spaces. The guesthouse has wooden decking and walkways, leading to an enchanting garden and the sheltered courtyard pool, the in-house restaurant, an African lounge with an oversized fireplace, or the rooftop deck jacuzzi.
There is a Spa here, in case you missed this fact. Their Healing Earth Spa offers signature treatments unique to this side of the world.
My favorite thing about the facilities (besides the big shower with amazing pressure, as well as the bathtub with a skylight), is actually the bathing amenities. The shampoo and shower gel smell strongly of lemon, and are ridiculously good for the skin and hair thanks to the oils in the products.
This five-star guesthouse, known to play host to small wedding celebrations and used as a conference venue, has all the right facilities for a tourist needing a quaint seaside escape…with just a smidgen of extravagance.
Food & Drink: 7/10
Reuben’s restaurant, located within the guesthouse, is adept at Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon tea, and especially Dinner.
I’m a fan of their really lovely and elaborate breakfast buffet situation (juices and Bloody Mary’s included) – though their flavorsome and wholesome dinner is nothing to overlook.
One can soak up the enjoyably relaxed seaside atmosphere and socialize over bubbly, or the hotels selection of celebrated local wines, brandies and whiskies at the vibey Bar.
Alternatively, guests may indulge in a quiet drink, in the lounge, or around the grounds.
“Reuben Riffel is a celebrated household name in South Africa and is renowned for his culinary prowess. He chooses the best local ingredients, treats them respectfully and prepares them beautifully to create unique taste sensations. Double-baked snoek soufflé with salted apricots, roasted pork belly with chilli-lime and ginger caramel, malva pudding with buttermilk sherbet and Amarula custard hint at the unique cuisine that awaits diners at Reuben’s Abalone House.” – Abalone House
Disability Accessibility & Comfort: No, 4/10
There are a few sets of steps to contend with here and there, but for the most part, Abalone has the space to maneuver comfortably on the ground floor, but not the safety mechanisms to secure an individual with a disability I think.
Please inquire from the hotel though; in case they can accommodate your specific requirement.
Family Friendly: Yes’ish, 6/10
There are a few sharp corners, but mostly everything can be worked around for small humans. Family’s would be well-accommodated in Abalone’s rooms.
There are family rooms specifically here, too.
“Please take note that Abalone House & Spa has two resident house cats; Trixie and Chelsea. We take every precaution to ensure that these beloved pets do not disturb our guests’ stay. Also note that we do permit small dogs (on a leash) to accompany visitors to our restaurant, however guests are expected to dine on the deck. Please contact us for further information.” – Abalone House
Reuben’s restaurant does not allow children under 12, but they cater to them under lunch service.
Abalone House sets you up for a wonderfully idle time when you drive through Paternoster and its unspoilt mis-en-scene.
So picturesque is the town, with its whitewashed fishermen’s cottages, turquoise Atlantic waters, indigenous fynbos and more, that you are guaranteed to slow or stop your vehicle to soak up this place’s ambiance…or atleast eat the lobster the town is sought after for.
People are speckled throughout this town situated between St Helena Bay and Saldanha Bay; but its estimated 1 883 inhabitants do not even make distinct markings when you glance around the glittering waters and white boulders that make up this landscape. Each angle you look around from, just frames a wallpaper-like visual.
Value for Money: 7/10
Their prices are not beyond the realm of reason, and my suite in particular is ideal for those craving a luxurious experience for a bargain.
Abalone House & Spa
3 Kriedoring St, Bek Bay, Paternoster, 7381
Tel: +27 (0) 22 752 2044