Why did you choose to buy a property in Cape Town?
Both of us have lived in Cape Town all our lives (except for a couple of years in the UK). To us, it is the most beautiful city in the world, and it would be hard to think of living anywhere else.
When did you buy the property?
We bought the property in 1988. Property prices have gone up by more than 20 times since then.
Why did you decide to make it into a holiday home / rent it out?
When we bought the property, the house was single-storey, but the previous owners had drawn up plans to build a second floor. We eventually decided to do the renovation in 1999, and we now have three bedrooms upstairs. We weren’t sure what to do with the old downstairs bedrooms. One of Shirley’s ideas was to convert them to run a Montessori school, but we then decided to turn them into self-contained guest rooms, which we then let out as self-catering rooms.
Even before 1999, we had occasionally let out the whole house over the Christmas and New Year period. Camps Bay is a hugely popular suburb and a magnet for holidaymakers. There is always a demand for accommodation in December and January. So after we had built the second level, we continued to let out the whole house over the holiday season. Now the house is available during the rest of the year as well.
On average, how many weeks do you rent out per year?
We rent out the house as a unit about six weeks a year. Three or four of those weeks are in December and January, and the rest are spread over the rest of the year. This year was slightly unusual because of the World Cup, which meant an extra three weeks of renting.
On the other hand, we rent out the guest rooms about 30 weeks per year. Most of these are concentrated in the period January through April. The period from May to September is normally our relatively slack period.
Why should people come to visit Cape Town?
In five words: weather, scenery, history, food and wine.
If you’re into the beach, then the hot summers are for you. Winters are relatively mild (at least by European standards), so you can still spend a lot of time outdoors.
Cape Town has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. A drive around the Peninsula gives breathtaking views such as Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak, Cape Point, Muizenberg, Constantia valley and Cape Town harbour. A short drive takes you to the winelands of the Boland, where the views are almost as spectacular.
Cape Town was the first settlement by the Dutch in 1652 and has many places and buildings of historical importance. The SA Museum is in the Company Gardens in the city bowl, and there are a number of more specialised museums.
The city also has many fine restaurants (Camps Bay, where we are situated, has about 30), some of them rated amongst the best in the world. The prices tend to seem expensive to us locals, but by overseas standards they are extremely reasonable.
Finally, Cape Town is famous for its winelands. Nowadays there are so many different labels that choosing a wine is difficult. Most of them are pretty good, and some are really good. And once again, by overseas standards, the prices are quite cheap.
What are your top three tips for ‘living like a local’ in Cape Town?
It’s difficult to limit it to three. I asked a couple of my friends to give me theirs as well. Here are the highlights:
Go to the local food markets. Probably the best-known one is at the Old Biscuit Mill in Salt River on a Saturday morning, which is a sort of mini version of the Farmers’ Market in Southwark, London. But there are also local food markets all over the Cape Peninsula.
Walk on the mountain. Most tourists take a trip up Table Mountain on the Cableway. That trip takes a couple of minutes, and although it does give you a spectacular view as the cable car rotates, it doesn’t compare with the dozens of spectacular views which you get as you walk up Table Mountain. And a walk to the top of Lions Head also offers stupendous views of the city and the sea. (Just remember not to walk when it’s too hot, and take enough water with you).
A walk up Long Street, with its quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.
Coffee and a cranberry Danish or olive stick at Jardin restaurant on the corner of Bloem and Bree Streets (sit outside on the pavement). Or coffee and a muffin or pastry at Vide e Caffe, which has branches around the city.
Go for fish and chips to Fish on the Rocks at Hout Bay. With fishing harbours in suburbs such as Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, Cape Town has abundant fresh fish in its restaurants, and Fish on the Rocks is amongst the best of them.
What is you favourite place in Cape Town?
This is a really difficult one to answer. On a nice day I love driving over Kloof Nek from Cape Town and seeing Camps Bay down below. It’s difficult to beat sitting at La Med, sipping a cold beer and watching the sunset.
What is your favourite local dish and the best place to enjoy it?
A braaivleis (barbeque) in the garden at home, with boerewors from Joubert & Montys or a nice fresh yellow tail fish. It’s always nice to have traditional side dishes like sousboontjies with a braai. For a less upmarket experience, we both like the pizzas at Col’Cacchio, which has a few branches in Cape Town, including one in Camps Bay.
What’s the best thing for travellers to take home as a souvenir from Cape Town?
Maybe something from Street Wires. They make incredible things from wire, bottle-tops etc. There are also beautiful beaded items on sale everywhere. Paintings of the Cape Town Stadium done by locals and sold on the street
corners. A wooden giraffe or a wooden mask would make a great souvenir too.
How would you describe the local people in Cape Town?
Cape Town’s population is so heterogenous that it is difficult to give a description in a few words. Generally people are friendly and helpful and quite laid-back, and very proud of their city.