Although just half an hour from the centre of Cape Town, the Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge, which opened last October, has its own stretch of shoreline in the middle of a nature reserve. You don't get much more of an exclusive feeling than that.
Built on a former campsite, the lodge was subject to fierce planning restrictions, with the national park authorities demanding muted colours and low elevations.
There are only 10 rooms and a master suite, and they had to be built around the indigenous milkwood trees, not a branch of which could be disturbed. Space is so tight that you park your car beside Chapman's Peak Drive, high above, and are driven down a twisting road to sea level.
The result is a bit like staying in a million-dollar Californian beach house, with no neighbours. The unique fynbos vegetation surrounds you, and the sea whooshes through the pebbles almost at your feet. Between August and November, southern right whales cavort just offshore.
All the rooms are named after islands around the world and decorated appropriately, with African and Indian Ocean elements mixed in. I was in Robben Island, which was considerably more spacious and luxurious than the prison camp where Nelson Mandela and his comrades were held. But the great man had autographed a photo of the room, so who was I to feel queasy? Everything – the vast and exceedingly comfortable bed, the armchairs, the deck outside, reached through sliding glass doors – faces the sea. So do the bathrooms, which have picture windows so that you can stand under the rainfall shower or recline in the corner bath and imagine you are in the ocean. The effect is heightened by the pebbles and sea shells embedded in the walls.
The food and drink
The kitchen is open to the dining area, and discussion with the chef, Danelle Paulsen, is encouraged. The cooking is sophisticated, with local ingredients such as ostrich fillets and marinated springbok incorporated into fusion-style dishes. The wine list is well chosen, and the service overwhelmingly friendly. A three-course meal costs about R550 (£42), with complimentary wine for residents.
Guided walks of the surrounding countryside are available, after which you can return for a sumptuous complimentary afternoon tea and a dip in the plunge pool (though since it is on the deck of the main lodge, it is not for the self-conscious). There is a free shuttle service into Cape Town.
No pets and no children under 12, except during the Christmas season. One room – Zanzibar, next to the main lodge – is wheelchair friendly and specially equipped for guests with disabilities.
Doubles cost from R6,000 (£465) per night. Key2holidays (020-7963 6697; key2holidays .co.uk) offers seven nights at Tintswalo from £1,715 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights via Dubai with Emirates, transfers and B&B.
Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge, Chapman's Peak Drive, Hout Bay, South Africa (00 27 87 754 9300; tintswalo.com).