Olwethu Leshabane is a force in the South African media, lifestyle and art worlds – having recently launched her own homeware range, Coco Jane, and, this month, she will be collaborating with NFT gallery Usurpa and Samsung on a Women’s Month-focused exhibition and workshop series. Ahead of the holidays, Olwethu shares the must-book Art Houses making the top of her wish list.
"Quarry House, for that feeling of being tucked into the mountains"
Built as a natural extension of the mountainside while capturing its sweeping views, Quarry House is the embodiment of quiet luxury. The interiors feature rare furniture pieces, sourced from markets and showrooms around the world, and unusual artworks, like the beatle headboard in the master bedroom by British artist Louise Rebecca Law – all set against the backdrop of iconic Table Mountain.
Quarry House’s most striking feature is the jade-tiled pool that not only brings coolness and reflects light into the high-gloss living spaces, but dips low up against the master bathroom shower, effectively submerging the main suite in softly filtered light. This is a home for sublime summertime living, with the top-level living area able to fully open up to the surrounding nature and views.
Discover more about Quarry House, and how to book your stay, here
"Bungalow 52, for that Atlantic seaboard view and feeling of the outside drawing into the home"
A low-slung, 3-floor bungalow surrounded by palm trees and set right on the white sands of Clifton’s 4th Beach, Bungalow 52’s structure employs canopies and symmetrical, double-pitched roofs to make the most of its contained footprint (it has 290-square-meters of living space), while the interior architecture leans toward a Japanese aesthetic, with natural oak and floor-to-ceiling glass. The sea acts as inspiration in the downstairs media room, where glass portholes look into the swimming pool. The bungalow is alive with contemporary art and design, from the James Mudge dining room table (with lines from John Masefield’s poem Sea Fever are carved into it) to artist Conrad Botes’s glass-fronted mermaid cabinets and a one-off surfboard by Mami Wata, shaped by South African surfing champion Hugh Thompson. Equally vivid is the large vase by ceramicist Lucinda Mudge, while in the living area hangs a welded steel piece by Barend de Wet.
Discover more about Bungalow 52, and how to book your stay, here
"Heatherfield Manor, for that old Victorian-era feel"
Channeling the Victorian spirit of collecting rare and exceptional things, the owners of this architectural gem by Sir Herbert Baker filled this heritage home with an array of eclectic art. From the moment you walk into each of the high-ceilinged rooms it’s a voyage of discovery – established artists on the international scene, emerging artists, anonymous prints fallen in love with in the back rooms of auction houses, commissioned works, Ardmore ceramics and family collectables.
Tucked between two churches on a hill, and once a parsonage, the substantial home is a sanctuary away from the city buzz, but still connected to it. It’s within walking distance of Kloof Street’s vibrant restaurant scene but opens on to secluded gardens, complete with a protected courtyard with Table Mountain views (gloriously scented with wisteria each spring). The only room where you are aware of the sounds of the city is in the gloriously old-school conservatory, with its huge arched windows, exotic plants and orchids.
Discover more about Heatherfield Manor, and how to book your stay, here
"Le Grand Jardin, OMG! How glorious?!"
A sense of magical realism, of falling with Alice into Wonderland, or flying with Peter Pan into Neverland, pervades a stay at Le Grand Jardin in Stellenbosch’s peaceful Devon Valley. Le Grand Jardin’s calling card is its extensive garden, an artistic canvas of sorts – an escape designed to delight children as well as adults, the owners’ collections ranging from South African artworks to a vintage 1930s fairground carousel and showman’s caravan in the meadow. The sense of discovery enjoyed in the gardens flows into the manor house, the architect a student of Sir Herbert Baker interpreting the Arts and Crafts movement along generous lines.
Not to be missed, a fabulous Victorian-style glass house built around an ancient oak tree seems designed for entertaining and makes a glamorous backdrop for impromptu outdoor movie screenings. You’ll discover so many more delights - pizza oven, spa, Jacuzzi, secret tunnel, ice cream trolley and more, that it’s easy to forget about the outside world, and even the attractions of nearby Stellenbosch might not tear you away from this mesmerising wonderland of alternate reality.
Discover more about Le Grand Jardin, and how to book your stay, here
"Sea Lion, for the views and art collection"
Bordering Table Mountain National Park (this is as high as you get by road), Sea Lion is perched on the slopes of Lion’s Head, its double-volume living area welcoming in stupendous sea views across the heated 13m-pool. Large-scale artworks bursting with vibrant colours and raw African energy were the starting point for the contemporary interiors but because this space was primarily designed for self-confessed foodies who love entertaining friends, it is the glam gin bar and sleek black kitchen that draws the eye next. No matter where you’re cooking here – whether indoors or out – the space draws people together and makes the best of the Cape’s sunlight and views. Pivot around, and you’ll see why the architectural design links both mountain and sea so seamlessly: glass roofing and walls reveal Lion’s Head again along with wind-protected courtyards, each one creating peaceful havens or focal points for drama.
Discover more about Sea Lion, and how to book your stay, here