Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel – Paternoster, South Africa

Walking towards Strandloper’s renowned Leeto Restaurant, your breath is literally knocked out of you. In front of the hotel stretches nearly 9 km of pristine beach, lapped by a sparkling sea and laced with seagulls mewling and diving in the extraordinary light that everybody talks about. And what they say is true: it’s the kind of light that artists abandon happy homes to seek out.

Strandloper often uses the phrase ‘barefoot luxury’, and that’s exactly how it feels: the fact that there are so few rooms and such a tight team makes it seem intimate yet at the same time you feel very spoilt; it’s a wonderful, unusual balance.

Our sea-view suite felt absolutely private yet showcased a sweeping view of the bay. At our first breakfast, I saw a guest in intense conversation with the general manager, Abraham Mouton. They paced up and down the beach, finally seeming to settle on a spot. The next morning, luxurious loungers, umbrellas, fresh flowers and bubbly had been set up in the chosen spot, ready for the guest to propose to his girlfriend. (She accepted, of course!)

In each room is a recycled bag you can take with you when you walk on the beach to pick up debris from passing ships. We didn’t find any, but I thought it was such a good indication of how the Strandloper is invested in the area. Deon Brand, who co-owns the hotel with Simone Jacke, was born and raised in Paternoster, and they both clearly care deeply for the village and the environment.

We walked, we swam, my husband cycled on the beach (while I enjoyed a mani and pedi at Elements Wellness Suite, because some of us know how to have fun), we explored the village and we ate at Leeto, which was outstanding. In the evenings, we sat on the deck in front of our room and sipped wine while the sun set over the silvery sea. It was utterly spectacular.
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