I love Paternoster for its photogenic fishermen’s cottages, shades of blue, kilometres of near empty beaches, fine selection of restaurants and interesting items for sale in the carefully curated shops and galleries. The dramatic sunsets and cool sea air, children playing freely on the streets, dogs owning them, locals and residents walking casually by. Which is why when I received an invitation from Manley Communications to spend a treat night at Abalone House & Spa, I jumped at the opportunity, taking my daughter Lemor with me.
Only a 90-minute drive from Cape Town on the R27, the route takes you through fynbos covered wilderness, farm stalls and rather remote towns until the last barren and beautiful stretch between Vredenburg and Paternoster. Abalone House & Spa is just south of the main hub in the direction of the Cape Columbine lighthouse, set up on a hill with spectacular views across the open land that leads to a private beach just a few hundred metres away.
Warmly welcomed by the manager Leigh Longdon, we were escorted through the courtyard and upstairs to our room to drop our bags and freshen up, before being brought a selection of canapés and refreshing sparkling wine. It was just past 3 pm, and we settled on the deck on the roof, pausing to appreciate the moment, the setting and the fact that we were actually there, headed to a wonderful relaxed stay.
About Abalone House
A glorious ten-roomed 5-star Boutique Hotel with luxurious textures and rich fabrics, big comfy beds and loads of Tretchikoff influence in the eclectic mix of art and bold colours prevalent throughout. Built around a tranquil sheltered garden courtyard, the ground floor suites have direct access to the sheltered pool in the courtyard, while the upstairs rooms open onto a wooden deck with loungers from which to enjoy the ocean views. There’s even a jacuzzi for when the season is right.
The suites have king-sized beds, crisp white cotton linen, lush carpets, loads of comfy cushions and throws to snuggle into, and all the state of the art finishes and amenities you could hope for, from a fully stocked bar fridge, coffee machine, flat screen TV, iPod docking station, CD and DVD player and more. You’d be forgiven for settling into the opulence of your room and escaping the world …
That said, tempting as it was, we did manage to leave ours to enjoy our bubbly on the deck, chatting and enjoying the sea air before going off to explore the village, bundled up warmly against the cold. I love Winter and walks on the beach at this time of year, really one of my happy-making things.
Blissful living, with a view. And my Slaughter & Fox glasses on their first outing.
Reuben’s at Abalone House
Newly renovated to add more tables with a view towards the private beach, Abalone House is home to one of Chef Reuben Reuben’s acclaimed restaurants. Opened in 2013 and giving Abalone House the edge, it showcases fine cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere with loads of local specialities on the menu.
Reuben is said to have fallen in love with Paternoster as a child of 14 and found that something about the place always drew him back. He is therefore delighted to have a kitchen there where he can create unique taste sensations. Favourites on the menu are the double-baked snoek soufflé with salted apricots, roasted pork belly with chilli-lime as well as the ginger caramel malva pudding with buttermilk sherbet and Amarula custard.
We enjoyed a 4-course especially prepared a decadent vegetarian meal with far too much bubbly that included grilled aubergine stack with butternut, mushroom and feta, and the most delicious vegetarian curry. We lapped it up in all it’s glory before retreating to our toasty room for the best sleep you could ask for.
The Healing Earth Spa
Should you wish to add pampering to your stay, Abalone House is home to a Healing Earth Spa that offers African inspired therapies and products in their four treatment rooms. We booked the couples room and each indulged in a nurturing full body massage that did me the world of good.
From Abalone House, it is literally only a few minutes past a welcome blend of local residences, church halls, holiday homes and charming eateries to the main beach. On the way, you spot the Paternoster Hotel, with a bar infamous for the dusty panties, bras and lingerie that hang from the ceiling. Right next door charming galleries and gift stores showcasing carefully selected items from the surrounds, and a market area set out for the fishermen to sell their catch. If you’re lucky you may even be there when their boats come in, adding colour and voice to the white sand and pale blue waters.
The origin of the name, which means Our Father in Latin and is said to refer to prayers by the Catholic Portuguese seamen who became shipwrecked here. Others believe it may be from the beads that the Khoi tribe wore, which were called Paternosters. Either works.
A walk along the main beach is obligatory and in our case, it was almost empty.
With the setting sun, we made our way back to Abalone House just in time to catch this dramatic sky.
Recommended things to do while staying at Abalone House
Browse in Paternoster’s quaint bric a brac shops. Don’t miss out on a taste of local culture by sampling some of the specialities such as pickled mussels, sun-dried snoek biltong or salty ‘bokkoms’. Hike or take a 4×4 route in the nearby pristine natural wilderness of the 263-hectare Cape Columbine Nature Reserve at Tietiesbaai. The reserve, about 5km from Paternoster, has many charming rocky coves along the coastline. Take a sea kayak on an ocean adventure to view the marine life dolphins, seals and whales that enter the bay in season.
If you’re a birding enthusiast, seize the opportunity to view over 200 species in the area, including African penguins, egrets, Cape Cormorants, Arctic terns and endangered black oystercatchers. You may even want to go on a tour of the neighbouring vineyards on the West Coast Wine Route or visit the last remaining manned lighthouse in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve. Built in 1936, the light from this marine beacon shines 32 nautical miles (60km) out to sea.
Any time in this coastal village feels like a complete break away from the world, as it offers the perfect setting to replenish, take long walks and relax, which is exactly what I did with my daughter Lemor for company, soaking up the best of West Coast hospitality and spoils at this charming five star luxury boutique hotel.
Yoga with the resident cat
On the Sunday morning we rose early, made coffee, grabbed a blanket off the bed and headed to the deck to watch the sun come up. I couldn’t resist doing my daily yoga just there, convinced that the natural beauty of the setting would add to the peace and purpose of my morning ritual. It did, and then there was the resident cat Chelsea who playfully added her weight – and beauty, to the moment.
THE ESSENTIAL DETAILS
- Location: Located at 3 Kriedoring Street, Paternoster, 7381.
- Contact Details: Tel +27 22 752 2044 Central Reservations: 087 820 5999 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.abalonehouse.co.za/
- Remember to look out for their excellent value winter specials.
- Boutique Hotel. Spa. Reuben’s Restaurant. Luxury Seaside Living.
Meet Toffee, the other cat that has cleverly set up home at Abalone House. Leigh tells me that he’s rather feral, having only arrived about a year ago and slowly made his way into the warmth and attention filled home that the hotel offers. The vet took a look at him and estimated his age at over 20 years, which is very impressive. He’s chosen a perfect place to see out his twilight years. He does come with a warning though, as much as he commands attention and is irresistible in every way, after a few minutes of loving, he may turn wild and bite your hand. Adds to his appeal, I feel.
Honestly, treat yourself and head out for a rejuvenating night or two, their winter specials are not to be missed. Nor is the setting.
Making memories with Lemor – oh, and introducing my beautiful new Daniel Wellington watch, read more here.
*I was invited to spend a night at Abalone House & Spa by Manley Communication, with dinner, canapés and bubbly included for Lemor and I. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.