When was the last time you made a decision purely from your gut?
Circumstances are usually considered extraordinary when we decide to take incredible leaps of faith,
and this is just such a story…
Over a quarter of a century ago, a phone rang late at night and Paul Harris answered the call. Mr. Harris was a member of the banking and finance triumvirate known as the three musketeers or the RMB rat pack. This was as big as it got in South African banking… but we digress. On the other end of the line, an estate agent told Paul that Ellerman House was going up for auction the next morning.
Originally known as Florida House, it was built in 1906 when it was the first house in Bantry Bay, Cape Town. During the last century, it was called home by a number of families. The change in name came with Sir John Ellerman who lived at the address for some time. It was the perfect position from where the richest man in Britain could make sure the Ellerman Shipping Lines ships sailed in and out of Cape Town’s harbour strictly on time. Married, under protest of his father, to his Canadian sweetheart Esther De Sola Sir John was also a very generous philanthropist who transferred 79% of the Ellerman Shipping Lines shares to grant-making trusts upon his death. The house would again play host to various owners before Paul Harris moved in across the road and was so charmed by the home that he asked to be informed if the house was ever up for sale.
Paul, following only his heart (having never seen the inside of the house for himself), made an offer, won the bid and then had to explain to his wife that they had just purchased a new house.
It was only when he visited the property for the first time that he decided it was the perfect frame for all that is the very best of South Africa.
In 1992 Ellerman House was opened as a 7-bedroom luxury hotel.
The magic of Ellerman House is that it comes across, not like a hotel and not as a museum
… instead, it invites guests to simply feel truly at home within every luxury your heart could desire. From the moment you enjoy your airport transfer, complete with onboard WiFi.
Once you have arrived you can test the Ellerman House claim to serving the best eggs benedict in town, and the pastry chef’s world-famous Granola and more – every morning.
The living room has a grand piano and a wood fireplace and it is soon clear that neither exists only for effect. You must prepare yourself as you step onto any of the terraces as the ocean views are simply magnificent.
Every afternoon there is a special wine tasting with the in-house sommelier to guide tasters. The wine cellar is one of South Africa’s best with 1500 bottles inside an incredible giant corkscrew in a temperature-controlled room and a brandy tasting room with handblown glass decanters
… and the bar in your room promises African snacks and full-size bottles of craft spirits too.
If your fancy is tickled by all the art that Paul Harris has filled the house with – a collection that boasts only the finest of South African art stretching back to the eighteen hundreds and exquisitely curated – you can take a tour presented by your very own in-house art guide.
When the sun goes down the cocktails, canapés and a South African craft gin trolley comes out. Without fail.
And at night, tucked away in the charming library with African print wallpaper it is difficult to remember the tropical magic that exists outside. You notice the faint aroma of sea air and know it all waits for you to wake up and experience everything again tomorrow.
(Rothschild Safaris’ favourite thing about Ellerman House might be the 24-hour pantry, just off the kitchen,
where you can help yourself to delicious snacks around the clock.)
The garden was inspired by Kirstenbosch
…and features many South African legends from aloes to Karoo succulents and acres of rolling free lawns… from where you can spy whales as they amble by between June and September.
A quarter of a century after it first opened its doors
…Ellerman House continues to steal hearts and inspire dreams. A timeless beauty that exudes old-fashioned, personalized hospitality, there are still only 13 individually-styled bedrooms and two villas. They now offer exciting diamond safaris and excursions to Antarctica but the basic premise of the original boutique hotel still stands.
It is simply the most refined and elegant way to experience South Africa’s mother city.
As one appreciative guest said:
‘This hotel is the result of great riches meeting great taste’
If you want nothing but the best in Cape Town, ask your Travel Designer for the microcosm of South African luxury and refinement that is