If you're looking for peace, quiet and fabulous views with a home-away-from-home feel, then you couldn't do much better.
Atlantic Suites, Cape Town
We were greeted almost as old friends by Sally, who is originally from Zimbabwe and co-owns the guest house with her husband, Ian, a Cape Town native. They opened Atlantic Suites in 2001 and have gradually been adding improvements since then. We chatted about our plans for the evening (the guest house only serves breakfast); she suggested several restaurants and offered to book us a table down on the seafront. As we lay by the infinity pool to recover from our drive, a welcome tea, prepared by Luan, the chef, was brought down to us, complete with home-made muffins, smoked salmon and still-warm cheesecake.
Atlantic Suites' lofty position above Camps Bay means that the beachfront action is a 20-minute walk or four-minute drive away. Being an upmarket residential area, it's wonderfully quiet and there is the reassuring presence of a security guard at night. The suburb of Cape Town, which climbs steeply behind a glistening, white-sand beach, has become the place to stay in the city, and is now home to a wealth of guest houses and boutique hotels. Its beachfront strip is packed with cafes and restaurants, where tanned beach babes lunch alongside young businessmen and camera-toting tourists.
Very small hotels or guest houses can run the risk of being too personal, but Sally and Ian have struck the right balance between helpfulness and giving you space. For the duration of your stay, their home feels like your home (although they live upstairs on a separate floor). The bookshelves are stuffed with great books (I developed a renewed appreciation of Nelson Mandela) and a laptop is on permanent standby for emergency logging-on. Touristy enquiries (whether to go to Table Mountain or Robben Island, where Mandela was imprisoned; how to get to the Steve Biko exhibition etc) were dealt with easily, and maps and extra information provided.
There are four double rooms, all of which are sea-facing. Ours was bright, white and airy, with an enormous, pale marble en suite bathroom with jacuzzi bath. But the decor was almost by the by, since the room is about only one thing - the view. Being perched so high above the bay provides immense, panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean. And to our left were the craggy peaks of the Twelve Apostles mountain range. They have arranged the room so that you can see both sea and mountain views from the bed or bath and there is a huge balcony for enjoying the sunsets.
Besides our welcome tea, breakfast was the only meal we ate there. As we settled into our Philippe Starck designed chairs facing out to sea, Luan brought us course after course of delicacies: crumbly home-made muesli, poached fruit, cold meats, warm, fluffy pastries - even a cheese board. Immense and worthy of a seven-star hotel but you may have to shelve your lunch plans.
The majority of the guests are young Europeans. When we stayed, there was a honeymooning couple from Ireland and a rather more reticent young pair from Germany. Its relative distance from the shore means it is incredibly peaceful, so perhaps not the place for party-goers. And they don't accept children unless someone rents the entire house, so no young families.
The spectacular sunsets from our bedroom balcony. By 7pm, the sea below us had morphed into molten lava, the sky was streaked with glimmers of oranges and mauve, and the mountains were bathed in a warm pink glow. Also the peace and quiet which comes with the location. And finally, the house's soothing, spacious feel. With its white and beige colour scheme, the permanent flood of natural light and almost 270 degree views, you can feel your shoulders unclench when you cross the threshold.
Ideally, we would have been within walking distance to the seafront, but we were willing to trade this luxury for a stunning view. The pool was a bit chilly for a late summer dip.
If you're looking for peace, quiet and fabulous views with a home-away-from-home feel, then you couldn't do much better than Atlantic Suites. With the buzz of Camps Bay a short drive away and the rest of the city only 20 minutes, it's a cosy yet classy and accessible base from which to explore the area. In December and January, the whole house is rented out as a single villa, so you could have free run of the place.
A double room costs US$252 (Dh924) per night in low season (June to September) and $351 (Dh1,288) per night in high season (October to May). Atlantic Suites, 30 Hely Hutchinson Avenue, Camps Bay, Cape Town (www.atlanticsuites-campsbay.com; 00 27 2143 89455)