There are few indulgences in life more liberating than the perfect weekend getaway. And there are few weekend getaways more classic than a journey to Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel. Along the way, past some of the West Coast’s more overtly blissful oceanside gems, you’re promised an experience still quietly idyllic in its aspirations (even after all these years), where your stay is promised to feel more like a profound, reformative event rather than a fleeting sojourn.
The case for Paternoster
For most of its contemporary lifetime the little fishing village of Paternoster has always offered coastal breakaways for the Capetonian elite and a select group of foreigners who fell under the spell of her old-world charm. It’s easy to understand why. From the Mother City’s centre, it’s a quick 2-hour dash up the relatively straightforward western coastline.
Up until a few years ago, this place was no more than a few bleached homes backdropped by an azure sea, but the region has seen a remarkable renaissance as of late; Once-dilapidated old cottages have now been restored and renovated, boisterous numbers of water-skiers and kitesurfers have claimed the warm-water lagoon and the world’s best restaurant of 2019 popped up somewhere along the way.
Revitalising this once underappreciated, sandblasted outpost into an awe-inspiring strip of rich coastline overflowing with abundance. Much like the rest of South Africa, but especially in its current burgeoning phase, Paternoster has always harboured the old and the new. Taking up a spot somewhere between history and innovation. And no other place manages to channel this intermittent spirit more than Strandloper.
The Strandloper experience
At face value, what might appear like an unassuming private property tucked away on a prime Mosselbank location soon unfurls to reveal an oasis-like courtyard, where lush plants, a lengthy crystalline pool, understated outdoor décor and passionate hosts await.
Strandloper manages to live in juxtaposition to, yet somehow at harmony with the bushy, sandy outcrops of the landscape that surrounds it. Matching the soft colours of the neighbouring dunes and beaches. For visitors, the quaint quality of the place inspires plenty of hand-holding: in the summer you can hike the idyllic trails and in the winter curl up next to cosy fires.
A full spectrum of pampering is on offer throughout the 14 rooms that dot the property, five of which enjoy fabulous beach and ocean views.
Equally arresting are the two enormous Nature King Suites with their floor-to-ceiling panoramas of the West Coast plains stretching northwards. Even the six Courtyard Rooms, each with private courtyard and water feature, won’t disappoint, nor will the spa treatments or service standards, which are always spot on.
The interior aesthetics are a nod to modern-day Greece, with each room presenting its own variation on the style that makes up the Strandloper namesake. Varying décor is always modern but simple and even a little bit escapist, making it ideal for a single romantic night or a weeklong escape. Big beds, handmade stone baths, outdoor showers and clean, organic textures run the gamut. And as you might expect, the views out of the wide, modern windows are nothing less than jaw-dropping. The place carries an ambience that is almost preternaturally soothing, providing the perfect daydreaming deck from which to subdue the hustle of daily life.
For locals, life in Paternoster still revolves around the sea. Fishing is the historical lifeblood of the village and fishermen go out almost every day in their colourful boats. And as with many oceanfront properties, the main attraction here also happens to be the beach, which is accessed through a dovetailing wooden walkway that starts from the back of the property.
The seawater might be a bit too cold for swimming, especially for those unaccustomed to the Atlantic’s chill, but the endless eight-kilometre stretch of unspoilt beachfront is made for a take-your-time type of walk. Alternatively, grab a book and park under an umbrella for the day or watch the sunset light up the sky in shades of pink and mauve.
Platefuls for every palate
If the alcove-like appeal of the glorious beachfront isn’t enough to win you over, the in-house eatery certainly will. Leeto Restaurant is heralded by Chef Garth Almazan of Catharina’s fame, leading this ingredient-driven institution to dish up its own rendition of “refined West Coast dining”.
Because Paternoster forms part of the West Coast Way’s Foodie Route, food – especially seafood – is an important part of the experience. And the Leeto menu certainly adheres to the house rules.
Options range from Malay-spiced mussels, angelfish tartare and prawn and calamari risotto. Almazan prides himself on only using sustainable seafood, buying from the local fishermen when he can, as well as seasonal ingredients, so the menu changes often depending on what is available.
Vegetarians, vegans and meat-lovers are also catered for, but, regardless of what you try, you’re guaranteed a delectable meal with generous portions. Allowing for an experience that leans heavily into an unfussy, but highly flavourful dining affair.
Reflecting the soul of Africa
When speaking with Strandloper co-owner Simone Jacke, who so graciously joined me for a chat over dinner, her passion for Paternoster stands out like the fluorescent blue that characterises the town’s beautiful, cloudless sky. This enthusiasm filters down into the smallest details of the hotel’s operation. As it is, about 80% of the staff members are local to Paternoster – a wonderful initiative heralded by the co-owning husband and wife duo.
This striving to support the local community’s social upliftment has led to some brilliant results. Most noticeably is the staff’s passion for their craft, managing to heighten the experience tenfold.
Along the way, Simone and her husband Deon have crafted an experience that allows guests to reconnect with themselves while getting back in touch with nature. Inviting outsiders to indulge in their version of “barefoot luxury”, and gifting visitors with the tools to master the art of doing nothing.
Next stop: restoration
Speaking in broad strokes: a solid hotel is a beautiful place situated in a great location. And who could find fault with that? But then there are the ones that are so much more than a place to sleep, where the environment can’t be reduced to the sum of its amazing parts. I’m talking about those rare trips that are proverbial blips on the radar. The ones that happen just after a particularly rough patch when you’re desperately in need of some clarity. And Strandloper was that much-needed inhalation of fresh ocean air for me.
But don’t make the mistake of deducing this place into yet another oceanside getaway. This extraordinary boutique hotel is a transcendent reset button dressed in beautifully rustic romance, accented by clean lines that are overrun in whitewashed walls, with a beachside simplicity dressed in baby blue accents. It’s the stuff impossible-to-part-with memories are made of. Where the rituals of purification, transformation and stargazing become second nature, languidly being honed to the melodious sound of the lapping waves over time.
If you’re scouting for your next rejuvenating experience or seeking a new journey of revitalisation, look no further.