Suspended on the steep mountain slopes over Cape Town’s iconic Atlantic Seaboard is an astonishing hidden treasure. Icaria is a delightful surprise in every way. The first surprise is that this most sought-after – and densely developed – address in Africa actually houses a pristine finger of Table Mountain National Reserve that reaches down from the mountain slopes to tickle the swelling waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The second is that the entire southern edge of Icaria – the largest residential erf in the entire area – blends into this pristine, fynbos-covered nature reserve. As I smoothly glide up in the funicular from busy Victoria Road I encounter the best surprise of all: utterly secluded and tranquil Icaria.
As I ascend the vertiginous mountainside, the hip Atlantic Seaboard scene falls away until all I can see is the swell of the endless sea below, and all I can hear is the peaceful shushing of the waves. Granite steps wind through a delicate terraced garden reminiscent of the Med and California and, of course, the natural fynbos of the Cape Peninsula. The home itself transports me instantly to those off-the-beaten-track islands I love so much in Greece. It has the same unpretentious warmth and practical magic.
I love the way the home is grounded in the environment that surrounds it: the entire south-facing facade is punctuated with windows that bring the granite boulders and fynbos vegetation of Table Mountain Nature Reserve right indoors. The communal spaces are open plan (the kitchen is a cook’s delight!) with picture windows and doors that slide away into the walls framing extraordinary sea and mountain views. And something that I particularly like is the way cleverly positioned panels of wall create peaceful zones so that the space is airy and free flowing but yet always feels intimate.
The interior is lovingly decorated with furnishings exclusively repurposed or handcrafted for the space. Beautiful artworks and photographs collected by the cosmopolitan owner (his other homes are in New York and the Hamptons) are the perfect finishing touches for a home that celebrates conscious simplicity. The finishes are tactile and delightfully uncomplicated. The slate floors extending from the living areas (where underfloor heating warms them in winter) out to the terrace are easy on the eye as well as smooth and comfy underfoot.
The outdoor spaces are a revelation. Despite its steep location, Icaria has the most wonderful flow. The barbecue area bridges the alfresco dining area and the kitchen, making for sheer practicality and convenience. Even with a full house and whatever the season, there is always somewhere peaceful and private on the different terraces and spaces where you can relax in comfort.
Each bedroom has its own personality and private outdoor space where you can retreat with a good book on a lazy summer afternoon. On a lower terrace overlooking the pool area is the ‘cave’ bedroom – so-called because of the way granite boulders have been incorporated into the architecture. My teenagers would give their eyeteeth for this space, although for that privilege they’d have to fight off any adult couple wanting a spa-like retreat.
And then, perched at the very top of the house, there is the master suite with astonishing views of the sea and the mountains. You won’t want to leave this blissful bedroom, and it should come with a travel warning: ‘This seductive space may endanger your travel itinerary!’ It is not an exaggeration to say that the ensuite bathroom has the most iconic view in Africa: as you soak in the bathtub you can take in the Cape Peninsula as it disappears off to the south and gaze out over the endless horizon of the swelling Atlantic Ocean. Simply heaven on earth!
What we love!
The sense of absolute remoteness despite being located in the heart of Cape Town’s sought-after Atlantic Seaboard – you couldn’t be better situated for dipping into the best the central city has to offer yet still being able to relax in total seclusion The way each of the five bedrooms is a retreat in its own right, with gorgeous private outdoor spaces and fab bathrooms The swimming pool that merges into the sea beyond There is garage parking for three cars
What you need to know…
The multilevel home is terraced, meaning that it is not ideal for young children or anyone who finds steps challenging
Sleeps 10 (no children under 12)