Bordeaux Meets Britania in the Western Cape

A seaside getaway that has a lot of appeal but has remained popular with only a select few informed travellers

By Jared Rutenburg

Britannia Bay truly feels like a West Coast secret; if I’d had a banknote for the number of times I’ve mentioned its name to blank stares, I might’ve already bought a home there. Much quieter than the likes of Paternoster and Yzerfontein, Britannia hasn’t a shop or restaurant, but rather a pristine eight-kilometre beach, with a string of white-washed homes decorating the beachfront. 

For eleven years I’ve had a tradition of visiting this coastal enclave to celebrate my birthday, with my annual gifts being sightings of Southern Right and Humpback whales (here for up to ten months each year) and then the daily Heaviside and Dusky dolphins racing along the morning waves. The bay is protected, so the water is a little warmer than other parts of the West Coast where the Benguela Current’s icy waters brush up against the shore.

Having stayed in several of her villas, it’s Bordeaux on Britannia that cuts the fairest of them all. Owner Sally told me a little more about how they settled on Britannia Bay: “We had the luxury of spending holidays in Plettenberg Bay, and after having been invited several times by friends in Britannia Bay, we began to fall in love with the chilled, laidback West Coast feel. The proximity to Cape Town and having two surf-crazy sons also made the location a dream.”  

The name rolls off the tongue with elegant alliteration, having been suggested by Sally’s husband with his penchant for Bordeaux reds. That same evening the couple sat to map out what their dream home would look like. The rough sketch allowed a large open plan downstairs living space area and the two ‘pitch’ roofs with a flat section in between. The Greek-meet-Moroccan style with laid-back interiors were inspired by their travels abroad. 

The villa’s central courtyard features a pool with loungers and a separate pool house. Four bedrooms are arranged upstairs, with the chic-but-fun kids’ dorm downstairs. The hero feature in my view, is the large veranda that offers unadulterated ocean views thanks to the stacking doors; dining here is every bit the glossy magazine post-card experience. You’ll also come to meet Joseph – the villa’s housekeeper whose ever-present smile is as enduring as his ability to quickly whip the villa back into shape post-meals.

Sally adds: “In the design, it was important that there were plenty of communal spaces taking advantage of the views as well as secluded nooks to retreat to. It also had to be designed around our surf-sons’ lifestyle of outside showers, access to their dorm shower from outside and functional racks for all the beach toys.”

And if the word Bordeaux had you dreaming of delicious glasses of the French claret, you’ll be pleased to know that the villa sports its own branded wine. “After naming the house Bordeaux on Britannia, we were inspired to bottle our own wine that could be shared with friends and guests. With our selected winemaker, we experimented until reaching the final blend. The wine is not for sale, rather guests receive a complimentary bottle on arrival.” 


Golden hour is when the true Britannia magic unfolds. Bands of crimson, magenta, and violet paint the sky – and then are reflected again as the shallow waves leave watery traces, reclining back to the ocean. As the gulls and the excited dogs chasing them flit in and out of the water, it’s hard not to imagine you’ve not been transported to a remote Greek island and are not a mere 90 minutes from Cape Town itself.

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