Travel review: Fabulous boutique style Oak Manor Guesthouse, Newlands, Cape Town – well-appointed self-catering stylish studio units

Oak Manor Guesthouse, Newlands, Cape Town – nine en-suite studio style bedrooms

Where: 1 Mariendahl Avenue, Newlands, Cape Town, 7700- off Camp Ground Road – opposite the Newlands Cricket Ground. Location on Google Maps
Bookings: Oak Manor’s website and major booking sites
Good to know: Excellent Wi-Fi, pet-friendly rooms, off street secure parking, security
Facebook: Oak Manor Guest Studios

On a balmy and stunningly glorious late February evening in beautiful Cape Town (February 22, 2022), I was lucky to be present at the official launch of Oak Manor Guesthouse, Newlands. We gathered to celebrate Oak Manor’s lift-off party as a fully equipped self-catering guesthouse and as a venue for live events.  We were entertained by Francois Botha and Yohan Chun, of the music fusion outfit, The Best of Both []. These classically trained musicians move seamlessly between the worlds of classical, jazz, contemporary and pop. (They met at the SACM – South African College of Music at UCT). Francois and Yohan and Tefo Mahola (drums), charmed and captivated us with their musicality and their warmth. They did a magical rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime, with an inspired instrumental arrangement; Norah Jones, African Songbook standards and contemporary favourites by South African icons like Judith Sephuma. Oak Manor consists of eight recently renovated studio units, with en-suite bathrooms and self-catering facilities and makes for a fabulous venue for a music and sleep-over event. The space of Oak Manor is intimate – with garden and a stylish front room (multi-purposed as a breakfast/dining area and office-work space for guests).

Music at Oak Manor

The evening on February 22, 2022, was also a soft launch for a platform of music evenings at Oak Manor, presented by the Best of Both. It is envisaged that the music platform – working title – Music at Oak Manor – will provide a much needed space for South African musicians and singers. They have had their income streams shredded by the pandemic. The idea is for Oak Manor to host monthly events, with music, wine, and food. (Oak Manor’s wood fired pizzas on the terrace). Andre Gilbertson who oversees the daily running of Oak Manor, says that they want to assist artists to generate a living in these challenging days. After production costs have been taken care of, the artists will share proceeds from the door. Gilbertson is a veteran publicist who has worked extensively in the music industry. She has seen the devastating effect of Covid on artists and the music platform is being put into place to help artists to get back on track. Working with Oak Manor’s owner Craig Watson, the idea germinated to present music at the guest house. The pilot evening was a resounding success. No one wanted to leave- or at least go up into their rooms. The property only has eight rooms so not everyone was doing a sleepover/staycation.

Beautifully appointed rooms –staycation or extended stay – why not

I was part of the staycation cohort. I can tell you that it was amazing. I wafted up the stairs to room 6 – which has a huge balcony. Room 5 was also alluring but the balcony of Room 6, was what hooked me in. I would have stayed the week. With excellent Wi-Fi (immediate and quick connection on my phone and laptop), this was nirvana. Some of the rooms have balconies and some are pet friendly (at garden level for obvious reasons). There is a pool and off street, secure parking (behind a security gate). Owner, Craig Watson says that he had initially envisaged studio accommodation, because of the proximity to UCT but then the property evolved as it was renovated into what I would term as a boutique guesthouse. It is not a hotel. There is no room service or concierge. It is not a B&B- although continental breakfast is on offer. It is not a guesthouse or an Airbnb, attached to someone’s home. B&B and Airbnb offerings are often bundled with annoying disturbances when attached to people’s homes- the intrusion of domesticity from the owners.  Or they may be totally anonymous: The key is left and one does not see a human.

Staycation in a boutique accommodation setting

I was raving about my staycation and have been asked how I would describe the property. I would say – ‘boutique guesthouse’ – stylish and well-appointed rooms- with considered details and accents in the interiors (fab side table, desks etc). Special mention: The mattress are fabulous – firm- which is what I like. The kitchens are fully equipped -with stove and oven and a decent size fridge (bigger than a bar fridge).  On check in, one gets given a bunch of keys with room key, gate and security gate, so one can simply go to the room but if required, there is staff on site to assist with queries. This means one has privacy but at the same time, the option to sit at the pool and chat to staff and guests who may be using the pool or working at tables in the front room, which overlooks the garden. It is not a hotel, so rooms are serviced pre arrival and then again after four days but one can pay extra (currently R100) for a daily service. Toilet paper, detergent (washing dishes) are supplied on arrival but if guests need more, then it is for own account. There are plenty of shops in the vicinity. For out of towners, arriving from Cape Town International, pick up supplies at Woollies (Woolworths – for the tourists- similar to Sainsbury’s and Waitrose in the UK and way better than Trader Joes and Whole Foods in the USA). Check in is at 2pm but if you arrive early, leave your bags and go out and explore or lie at the pool. Check out is at 10am. Oak Manor may also be termed as an aparthotel as it has the bells and whistles of an apartment and also access to services (rooms being serviced, linen and towels changed etc).

Oak Manor as a party, wedding, yoga and events venue

There is a dining area but a cooked breakfast is only offered on request, when all the rooms are occupied by a group. The venues has already become popular for wedding groups. Recently, Oak Manor was booked out for a wedding weekend. The wedding was held at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. If it was my wedding, I would do the whole thing at Oak Manor. The grounds are perfect for an on-site wedding. I can imagine a chuppah or canopy nestled in the garden and pizzas from the wood fired oven. I am not mad about destination weddings and celebrations, especially during the week, when one is expected to drive to the winelands. It is a schlep. I love the idea of a destination event – in Newlands. The guesthouse has its own chefs – who have worked at renowned Cape Town eateries. Oak Manor would be a good fit as a yoga retreat and ideal as a venue for an album launch and a great space for live music. And so we circle back to the launch event on Tuesday February 22, 2022. The small crowd was enthralled by the musicians and the opportunity to mix in an outdoor setting, under the stars. I was intrigued. I chatted to a couple who hail from the Cotswolds in England. They are long stay guests and have been at Oak Manor for over a month. (Yes, there is reduced rate for long stay guests). How did they find out about Oak Manor?” On the internet.” They booked directly with Oak Manor –not through a booking site. They told me that they were impressed by the assistance that they received and that all their queries were answered which helped them in preparing for their holiday. It is not their first trip to Cape Town. The doc’s appetite for South Africa was whetted when he did his medical training in the UK, with a doctor chap from Vereeniging. They said that have loved their stay and were delighted when they were invited to the music evening.

Good to know

Oak Manor has excellent Wi-Fi – a must for digital nomads. Fast Wi-Fi issue is essential. Many South African accommodation set-ups do not deliver in terms of connectivity and this is a downfall. At Oak Manor, I could connect everywhere – rooms, garden, and carpark.  Oak Manor has an inverter so if there is an electricity outage, Wi-Fi will continue to work. Rooms are equipped with high powered torches/lights – in case the power goes off in an electricity outage. The guesthouse is centrally based and close to Cape Town attractions. As Cape Town’s public transport is not the best, I would recommend the hire of a car. The guesthouse is on a main road (Camp Ground Road – opposite the Newlands Cricket Ground) and there is noise but the rooms are equipped with fans (summer) and heaters (winter) and with the doors and windows closed, it is surprisingly quiet. I guess that has to do with the thick walls. This is not a new build. As yet, there is no air-conditioning but the fans did the job on a blisteringly hot evening. There are heaps of plug and USB points- often a downfall in accommodation spots. Lighting is also excellent – with lamps and ceiling lights. It is all very well to have moody and ambient light but if the lights won’t turn up, that can be frustrating. The space of the rooms is a winner and the balconies (rooms 6 and 8) are amazing. Never mind having a room of one’s own as Virginia Woolf advised – how about a balcony of one’s own.  I also like the fact that one gets given a bunch of keys with access to the main gate and entrance and room which means that there is no lag in waiting for someone to open up. The property has electric fencing and armed response. Security is very much in place. Security is essential in Cape Town and this property has covered all bases. Oak Manor is near to Cavendish Square Shopping Centre- one of Cape Town’s prime shopping malls.

Highly recommended

I loved my staycation, with a balcony of my own and was reluctant to leave. I look forward to the music evenings and highly recommend Oak Manor as a choice spot for a wedding, event, milestone birthday party. It is an ideal place to put up artists who are in Cape Town to perform in a play or at a music festival (let’s hope that festivals arts up again). Room rates (room not per person) are currently R1200, a unit. Look out for special deals. Check out deals on booking sites such or directly on Oak Manor’s website. A major bonus for me, is that Oak Manor rooms are fully kitted out for self-catering but it has a vibe of a boutique guesthouse/aparthotel. A friend told me that she doesn’t want to see a kitchen when she is away. She wants to be served a cooked breakfast. I get that – we all have our wish lists. I personally enjoy having the choice to self-cater and if I want to go out, I can get a cooked breakfast in the vicinity. Continental breakfasts are on offer at Oak Manor and if you have booked out the property for an event or celebration, then cooked breakfast can be arranged. As a South African, with our currency issues, when travelling abroad, Oak Manor is exactly the type of accommodation that I would seek. Within our borders, it is also great to have self-catering as an option, bundled with luxury and servicing of rooms (if required, on a daily basis).

Musical evening: Yohan Chun and Francois Botha, of the music fusion outfit, The Best of Both [ The drummer is Tefo Mahola. They were playing at the launch of Oak Manor Guesthouse, Cape Town, February 22, 2022.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Magical: Fairy lights in the trees on February 22, 2022 at Oak Manor Guesthouse, Newlands, Cape Town.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

Music, pizza and wine: Craig Waston, the visionary owner of Oak Manor Guesthouse in Cape Town. Not only, has he established a stylishly appointed boutique guesthouse, but he is creating a platform for artists in Cape Town. The idea is to offer wonderful music, quality wines and wood fired pizza (see oven behind him).
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Ode to a balcony: This is room 6. The balcony is bliss. If you are looking for a long stay, vacay or staycation, this is a prime room to nab. Room 8 also has a balcony. Rooms 4 and 9 are pet friendly (ground level). Room 2 is the largest room and is a garden room and fabulous. See featured image on this page.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Spacious: Room 6- with its amazing balcony. The kitchen is on the other side of the table. © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Breakfast in the garden: Cooked breakfasts are on offer when the entire venue is booked for an event. Continental breakfast is always on offer (pre-order). In the pic, radio legend Brian Oxley and his wife, the artist, Irene Oxley.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

Conveniences: Excellent attention to detail in the studio units at Oak Manor. For instance, there are ample plug and USB points. Lighting is excellent so one can see when one is working at a computer screen. Wi-Fi connectivity is fast and one can connect on multiple devices- simulatneously.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.
Music of the night: Yohan Chun and Francois Botha, of the music fusion outfit, The Best of Both [, at the launch party, on February 22, 2022, Oak Manor Guesthouse in Cape Town. Tefo Mahola was on drums.
© TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen.

❇TheCapeRobyn was hosted by Oak Manor Guesthouse. Featured image- Room 2 on ground/garden level – the largest room. Supplied.