Ezulwini, Clifton

The Atlantic Seaboard neighbourhood of Clifton, swanky and exclusive, once had the less catchy name of Schoenmaker’s Gat. It may have derived from a slave shoemaker who lived in a remote cottage built high above the deserted beach. His modest home may have been incorporated into the much larger Clifton House (still standing in altered form above Kloof Road, once a rough wagon track), which in turn gave its name to the district. The rambling garden terraces that once led down to the sea from Clifton House were later built on, becoming highly valued real estate. When Victoria Road was built in the 1880s, it provided an access route from the city to Clifton, which had once been difficult to reach because of the giant boulders, ravines and sheer slopes encountered along the treacherous route over the ‘Nek’ between Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.

Now days, perched on a high shelf above Victoria Road, Ezulwini (‘heaven’) looks down onto white sands of Clifton 2nd Beach. Its 20th-century house that’s been converted into three see-facing apartments, each occupying an enviable vantage point from which to view Africa’s most costly and fashionable real estate. It’s a narrow coastline bisected by Victoria Road, below which apartments and old-fashioned clapboard cottages tumble down towards breakers thundering into a series of little coves that are hugely popular in summer. Ezulwini apartments overlook it all: the beautiful bodies and the dog walkers, the sports cars and sunsets. Laid out below the peaks of the Twelve Apostles at the back of Table Mountain, it’s the stretch of coastline that attracts people to Cape Town simply because it isn’t like anywhere else. Ezulwini, its rooms designed to catch the natural light, plays the game. Oversized skylights and massive glass doors maximise the views, making the most of an extraordinary situation. Even the decks have glass balustrades to ensure minimal visual obstruction. Who wouldn’t want to soak in a bath next to a big window, seemingly suspend in the air above the sea, or shower while watching the waves breaking on the beach below? Viewing platforms are part of the design of each apartment; one has a pool and the two studios apartments share a terraced garden with a pool. It’s here that you will want to put your feet up and watch the evening’s setting sun and those spectacular sunsets the Atlantic Seaboard is famous for.

In the makeover of the earlier building, the wooden floors and the staircase into the heart of the house were retained and, painted jet black, they’re currently key to the ebony-and-ivory colour scheme that recurs throughout Ezulwini. Its rich, exotic palette that’s offset by warm wooden surfaces and dashes of colour thrown at it by a range of African artworks and antique objects- like the Ethiopian tribal belts sporting little figures and climbing geckos. And there’s a nautical element that recurs throughout Ezulwini. Brass portholes from long-gone ships (each engraved with the identity of its origin) that are used as windows that look into the indigenous garden lined by century old olive trees.