Charles Cottar was a colourful character who arrived in Kenya in 1909 and soon discovered big game hunting. Brave and fearless, he would take on anything. During his life he was gored by a buffalo, knocked down by an elephant and mauled by a leopard. The leopard mauling left him crippled and when he was 66 years old he died when a rhino gored him to death. In a family book about Cottar’s life, Cottar: The exception was the rule, there is a quote that reads, “Aside from a scar that twisted one eye out of alignment, he was a magnificently rugged, purposeful figure imbued with a rare energy and driven by a dauntless courage that showed in both eyes”. It turns out that his great-granddaughter, Jeanette, the owner of 185 Beach Road in Gordon’s Bay has the same rare energy and an exceptional eye for detail.
185 Beach Road started out as the seaside residence of Richard and Jeanette Loring. Over the years Jeanette has turned their home into a series of self-catering rooms and cottages. The main house sleeps six to eight people and has The Forest Suite with an incredible view of the forest behind the house that makes you feel that you are right in the middle of a lush paradise. The Seaside Suite has views over the ocean, including a sea view from the shower. There’s an entertainment deck with a beautiful swimming pool and an indoor entertainment area with a pool table and bar. Plush lounges, fireplaces and incredible views will mean you probably never need to leave the house!
There’s a Beach Cottage with waves right beneath you and sea views from every room including the bathroom (which has heated towel rails!). The cheerful Beachside Studio is only 5 metres from the sea and has its own courtyard where you can have a braai and enjoy the beauty of the ocean crashing against the rocks just metres away.
We stayed in the Beachside Penthouse which has been decorated safari-style in memory of Jeanette’s great grandfather and other members of the family. We were instantly swept into Karen von Blixen’s era where rugged men took on big game and ladies played croquet on the lawn. There was a Nguni cow skin on the floor, beautiful photographs of semi-naked models with elephants, family photographs and pictures of Charles Cottar with some of his trophies. We immediately felt a need for a gin and tonic!
The Beachside Penthouse has two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. The one bedroom has artefacts from Kenya, complete with a Masai headrest and suitcases from yesteryear. There are cushions decorated with perleomon buttons and wonderful swishy curtains that sway in the breeze. The bathroom has a skylight so you can gaze up at the stars while languishing in the enormous bath before hopping in your king-size bed. The other bedroom with its sloping roof has a seaside feel in white’s and blue’s with a view of the ocean and the old harbour. There’s a shower with a sea view and doors that lead out onto a balcony where you can suntan whilst sipping cocktails (actually make that G&T’s) and watch the surfers who favour this corner for good waves. Jeanette was also quick to point out that people seldom look upwards so this is great spot to tan naked. Just remember that you are actually naked after your fifth gin!
185 Beach Road, Gordon’s Bay
What to expect
All the rooms and apartments are self-catering and are well-equipped for this. There are also webers provided if you wish to braai. You can see the sea from every single apartment and you can certainly hear it. It is also right on the blue-flag rated Bikini Beach, making it perfect for a seaside break. There are also TV’s with DSTV and dvd players.
What we loved
No attention to detail has been spared and the accommodation was so beautiful that we wished we had more time to spend in it. Jeanette instantly makes you feel welcome and her enthusiasm for Gordon’s Bay and life is infectious. Don’t be surprised if she has you driving up the mountain to Steenbras Dam or strolling alongside the ocean on Gordon’s Bay promenade within minutes of arriving. Or of course getting a full body tan!
Need to know
If you are not a fan of hunting and images of hunters with their trophies makes you squeamish, then don’t opt for the penthouse. Whilst Charles Cottar was also an advocate of nature conservation (he once left a group of tourists stranded in the bush because “they just wanted to kill everything in their sight”), some of the photographs are quite graphic.
Where to eat
If you tire of braaiing with a view or don’t feel like making breakfast, there are plenty of restaurants a short drive away. Walk to The Tavern for great seafood (best calamari ever!) and a pint in the popular pub. The Bay Café on and Zest on Beach Road serve tasty breakfasts and there are restaurants serving pizzas and burgers. Slightly further afield you will find Berties, a popular pub on the waterfront with live music on most weekends.