Kalk Bay in Cape Town was recently voted one of the ‘coolest’ suburbs in the world according to Forbes magazine. This is the suburb in which the gorgeous Chartfield Guesthouse is situated
A bustling little village by the sea, Kalk Bay boasts a huge variety of restaurants from ‘fish ‘n chips’ to fine dining. Along the main road, you’ll find curio shops, fashion boutiques, coffee shops and markets. Antique stores and art galleries make this little cultural hub a curious shopping adventure as well as a good stretch for those wanting a drink or meal with sea views.
At the Kalk Bay harbour, you’ll find the Brass Bell – a favourite hangout for locals – where you can get great pub food and drinks while watching waves roll in. Another fun secret is Kalky’s, a modest yet bustling fish and chips shop, which has been around for decades. If you’re looking for a more upmarket seafood experience, take a stroll across to Harbour House or Live Bait, also on the verge at the Kalk Bay pier.
Being a small seaside village, you can explore it on foot, a good idea since the cobblestone backroads are narrow and the main-road traffic can bottleneck quickly.
Chartfield Guest House in the heart of Kalk Bay
Chartfield Guest House‘s central location makes it a wonderful vantage point for those wishing to have an immersive experience of Kalk Bay. Overlooking the harbour and nestled against the scenic Boyes Drive, it’s no more than 300 metres away from just about everything. Chartfield has retained its old-world hotel charm, while transitioning into a more relaxed guesthouse. Under the guidance of a former owner of one of Cape Town’s iconic fine dining restaurants, it’s no wonder it ranks so highly among Kalk Bay’s best accommodation options.
Set against the Norman Steps – a stone stairway from the middle of Main Road up to the broad views from Boyes Drive – the guesthouse and former hotel is easy to locate. Like many of the buildings in Kalk Bay, it has a quaint, old-world charm. You don’t get a full impression of just how big it is until you’re inside. We were escorted to one of the deluxe suites on the first level, opening the door to a 150° bay window overlooking most of Kalk Bay and the ocean. While an overcast day, the views were still spectacular, and we were able to see Simon’s Town beyond the harbour, and an endless horizon just beyond False Bay.
There’s an authenticity about Kalk Bay, unpretentious and humble, yet proud of its rustic heritage, old fishing boats and working harbour. Grounded in history, just getting on with it and relaxed in its approach, it makes a bustling yet enjoyable holiday experience. Arty and charming in its own special way, it has a unique subculture quite different from the surrounding suburbs of Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Simon’s Town.
The highlight of our deluxe room was undoubtedly the bay window lounge area, where we spent most of our time, admiring the view, enjoying the open air and the idea of what it must be like on a cruise ship with the ocean filling our view. The room was simple and clean, with uncomplicated yet tasteful decor, finishes and furnishings.
An old building, the guesthouse is careful about preservation, as evidenced by the decision not to have any major heating appliances in the room. To make us feel more welcome, they switched on the eco wall heater, warming the cool winter air to add a sense of comfort.
The king-size bed and large shower add to the spacious feeling created by the bay window
As water restrictions in Cape Town are still in place it’s not surprising to see a bucket for water collection. As part of the clean, simple approach, there isn’t a bar fridge or kettle. There is an LCD screen with a small selection of channels, which makes the prospect of lazing in bed quite tempting. There’s a customised tea and coffee room service in the morning. During the winter months, you also have the option of a hot water bottle at night, a nice touch considering how cold it can get in Cape Town.
While the room facilities are basic, the focus of staying in Kalk Bay should be about getting out and about, experiencing the surroundings. With a variety of amazing coffee spots within walking distance – such as Olympia Bakery, Bootleggers, the Courtyard Café, Ohana, the Brass Bell, Dalebrook Café, Lekker Café, Bob’s Bagel Café, and more – there are numerous places where you can grab a good coffee.
We visited Kalk Courtyard Café, where we were fortunate to taste the debut of Chef Michael’s ‘Billionaire’s Shortbread’. This is a vegan alternative to ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’, and we were delighted to taste this sweet treat with a fine coffee and herbal tea. Overlooking the ocean, it’s a wonderful crow’s nest for people-watching – just one of the many special Kalk Bay restaurants around.
For dinner we tried Osetra for the first time
My husband doesn’t usually eat sushi, but joined me in one of Osetra’s vegetarian platters – which he really enjoyed. Essentially an architectural salad, the fresh ingredients are carefully prepared and beautifully presented, making this classy spot a good stop if you like your sushi super fresh and delightfully tasty.
Fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean
The comfortable king-size bed, eco wall heater, room curtain divider and sound of the ocean helped soothe us to sleep. Waking up to such a beautiful view makes the coffee, tea or hot chocolate on demand service a big plus, allowing you to ponder how you’re going to spend the day, while gazing out to sea. If that doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks, the fantastic breakfast most certainly will.
Dine in style
Sitting in another room with a view, we gathered around a dining table with other guests. In warmer months, one could breakfast on the patio overlooking the pool area. Being overcast and a bit chilly, it was lovely to be indoors, feasting on seasonal fruit salad, eggs how we like them, and even fried banana and pancakes. Exquisitely presented and made to order, we felt like movie stars taking in the scene, while enjoying what must surely be the best breakfast in Kalk Bay. Friendly, attentive service and an unlimited supply of fresh orange juice made this one of the highlights, which comes complimentary if you book directly through the website.
Chartfield Guesthouse is perfectly positioned, enjoys grand views, is furnished with style, boasts a breakfast worth returning for, and makes a great weekend getaway even if you live 15 minutes away! Knowing what to expect in terms of facilities and operation will give you a full advantage, and if you pay cash you get a further 5% off. It’s a smart place to call home when visiting Kalk Bay, and if you want the basics done right without too much fuss, you know where to book your next stay.
* My partner and I stayed at Chartfield Guest House for one night courtesy of Florian Blochliger.