Camps Bay Retreat in Cape Town is a quiet and peaceful guest house.
Camps Bay Retreat: Our full report
Camps Bay Retreat is a smart hotel which feels rather like a very good upmarket guesthouse. It’s the sister hotel to The Bay Hotel, down on the beachfront, but is much quieter and more tranquil. It is spread out over a small private reserve, which covers four acres of lush woodlands, streams and waterfalls in a great location above Camps Bay with beautiful views of the sea. Being on the slopes of Lions Head gives it a great backdrop yet it is within a 300m walk of the seafront with its superb beaches, restaurants and nightlife.
There is a choice of venue for the accommodation at Camps Bay Retreat, and also a variety of room types. There are 15 rooms in total and the venues are:
- The Earls Dyke Manor, an elegant manor house, built in the 1920s with four rooms in the main house.
- The Deck House, is very contemporary in style with seven rooms.
- There are four luxuriousVillas.
- Premier rooms – There is one in the Manor House on the first floor, overlooking the gardens and mountains and two others located in the Deck House .
- Luxury rooms – There are two in the Deck House, and each of these larger rooms has a private deck overlooking the gardens and mountains.
- Superior rooms – These three large rooms are all on the ground floor of the Deck House, and have a little more space and luxury, plus a large private outside deck with a spectacular view of the sea and the gardens. Some of these rooms have spa-style baths.
- Suites – There are three suites in the Manor House and one in the Deck House. These large rooms have the space and luxury of a separate lounge; some also have fireplaces. All have beautiful views – some from the ground floor, others from the first floor. A few suites are geared for small families travelling together.
All the rooms in the Manor House are in keeping with the style of the house with original features such as wooden floors, high ceilings, original doors and antique furniture, whereas the rooms in the Deck House and the Villas have a more modern contemporary feel.
Everyone shares the public rooms of the Manor House. With its striking entrance hall, high ceilings, chandeliers and dark wood paneled walls, it has a charm that is enriched by Turkish rugs, oversized paintings and a grand piano set against white walls. When we last visited in May 2014 we thought it was magnificent; it's not difficult to imagine what it might have been like to live there in its heyday.
A log fire in the entrance hall is lit throughout the winter much to the delight of the resident dogs at the Camps Bay Retreat! From the hall, a wide wooden staircase leads up to the rooms, and doors lead off to the dining room and two reception rooms. The lounge is a quiet place, ideal to sit and read, whereas the library is more of an entertainment area, with a selection of books, DVDs, CDs and cigars. The walls are covered with books, paintings and vases, and artifacts fill the rest of the room. In each room are large comfortable couches, armchairs and pouffes, as well as a fireplace: welcoming, snug spots to enjoy a drink before or after dinner.
There is a lot of memorabilia and history here about the family who originally owned the house, as well as old photos on the walls of Cape Town and Camps Bay.
Most of the original features from the 1920s have been preserved in the four rooms at the Manor House, which comprise three suites and one premier room. One of the suites has a lovingly restored bath; others boast the original built-in wardrobes. Although the rooms are different in style and décor, all are spacious and have open-plan facilities, albeit with an enclosed toilet.
A hanging bridge spans a narrow ravine and joins the Manor House with the Deck House and Villas . Here there are four categories of rooms:
suites, premier, luxury and superior rooms. As at the Manor House, the décor is different in each room, and most are open plan with an enclosed toilet. Here, though, each room has a private balcony with deck chairs.
Every room at Camps Bay Retreat has a fully stocked minibar, satellite TV, air conditioning, international plug points, electronic safe, hairdryer, telephone and laptop facilities, and WiFi access. A DVD player comes as standard, too, with DVDs available to borrow from The Library in the Manor House, and there is a small compilation of music in each room. Tea and coffee, as well as a Nespresso machine, home-made lemonade and mineral water are all complimentary.
During the winter months, meals at Camps Bay Retreat are served in the formal dining room. In warmer weather, meals may be served on the terrace, which has a bar in one corner, and amazing views across the garden to the sea, or on the lawn. Exploring the garden is great; there are various different paths and walks, one leading to the vegetable garden and nursery where the Retreat grows fresh herbs and vegetables. (There's another herb garden, too, outside the kitchen on the way to the Deck House.) During the summer months guest can enjoy a barbecue, which is held twice a week.
A winding path leads down the hillside, through the reserve, to a gate which leads out onto the road below. This gives guests direct access onto a small beach called Glen Beach, or the larger Camps Bay beach which is a short walk away.
Other facilities at Camps Bay Retreat include a spa (with two treatment rooms, a steam room, sauna and spa bath), tennis court, a ‘nature tent’ in the garden with another two massage beds and views of the sea, and three swimming pools. The main pool at the Manor House is solar heated, while the mountain pool, lower down in the gardens, is usually filled with natural water from the mountain. The third pool is at the Deck House.
Complimentary transfers are available between the Camps Bay Retreat and The Bay Hotel, and guests are free to use the facilities of both hotels.
Our viewCamps Bay Retreat combines a peaceful location and some old-world charm with high-quality contemporary creature comforts. It's in a quiet location, but only a short walk from the Camps Bay beach, and the buzzing restaurants and bars on the palm fringed promenade. We loved its location and views!
Ideal length of stay: We'd use this for a minimum stay of 3 to 4 days, and perhaps for longer if time permits.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Member of The Village & Life Group
Staff: Maree Brink - Chairman
Food & drink
Usual board basis: B&B
Food quality: On a recent visit to Camps Bay Retreat (May 2014) we did not eat here. However on a previous trip this is what we experienced.
Breakfast is usually served between 7.00am and 11.00am. We chose the French toast tower – traditional French toast layered with cheese, bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
We did not have lunch but here is what was on the menu at the time of our visit – beetroot salad, duck confit salad and octopus salad with prices ranging from R55 to R75 (£3 to £4.50), a selection of sandwiches from R65 to R85 (£4 to £5) and for main course a beef burger for R95 (£5.50), beef fillet for R195 (£11.50), rabbit for R135 (£8), seabass for R125 (£7), linguine with prawns for R85 (£5) or quiche of the day for R75 (£4.50). A selection of deserts is also available for R50 to R60 (£3 to £3.50). This menu changes daily.
Dinner, is served between 7.00pm and 9.30pm and is usually from an à la carte menu which changes daily. We started with stuffed calamari with cream cheese mousse, followed by beef fillet served with pomme dauphine, rocket sauce and roast vegetables. To round it all off we had vanilla pannacotta with a berry coulis for dessert.
Dining style: Individual Tables
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Drinks are not included at Camps Bay Retreat.
Further dining info: Yes
Beach holidays: Camps Bay Retreat is set within a short walk of three stunning beaches – Glen Beach, Camps Bay & Clifton. Beside this, it has three outdoor swimming pools, so you are spoilt for choice to create a best beach holiday experience.See more ideas for Beach holidays in South Africa
Attitude towards children: Children 12 years and older are welcome in the Manor House. It is an old historic building with lots of antiques and is not suitable for younger children. Children of all ages are welcome at the Deck House and Villas.
Special activities & services: The Camps Bay Retreat has their own qualified child minder. The cost for this service is R120 an hour (approximately £7 an hour). The tennis court and swimming pool are an attraction for older children.
Equipment: Cots and high chairs are available.
Generally recommended for children: We recommend Camps Bay Retreat for older children from about 8 years and above.
Notes: Young children need to supervised by their parents. There is a swing bridge across a steep gorge between the Manor House and the Deck House. The gardens are steep and the pathways uneven.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Each room has a direct dial telephone. Fax, printing and photocopying services are also available. WiFi is available throughout the property. There is also a guest computer in the library where guests can make use of the complimentary internet facilities.
TV & radio: Each room has an 18-channel satellite TV.
Water supply: Mains
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: The closest doctor is in Camps Bay, about 10 minutes away by car.
Security measures: The property is fenced and gated and there is 24-hour security at the front gate.
Fire safety: Each room is fitted with a fire detector and fire extinguishers are dotted throughout the property.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: A same day service is available Monday to Sunday. Prices are from R15 – R65 per item for a wash, dry and iron. (£1 - £4)
Money: Amex, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted. Payment is also accepted in SA rands.
Accepted payment on location: Amex, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa cards are accepted.