Nestled in the glens of Table Mountain, The Roundhouse is steeped in a rich history as old as the Cape itself. It is this very location that led to the building’s inception as a guardhouse in 1786 by the Dutch East India Company. With its sweeping views of Camps Bay, the Twelve Apostles and the expansive Atlantic, it was ideally situated to safeguard the Cape of Storms from enemy ships.
Although not the original owner, The Roundhouse is most associated with Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape from 1814 to 1827. Somerset was famous for his ostentation, and he enlarged, renovated and refurbished the building with only the finest frills and fixings. After a day of hunting leopards, lions and buck on the slopes of Table Mountain, Somerset and his guests could now retire to his opulent hunting lodge only a stone’s throw away. In these years The Roundhouse saw the colonial era in all its splendour, playing host to the most prominent aristocrats of the day.
Somerset’s departure in 1827 didn’t mean the end of hospitality at The Roundhouse, however. In 1848 Kloof Road was built, linking the town and the bay, making it significantly more accessible to Capetonians. Consequently, from 1837 well into the twentieth century, The Roundhouse operated periodically as a tearoom, dance hall, restaurant and boutique hotel. But through its many guises The Roundhouse continued to be a place of welcome and merriment.
Although the building fell into disuse by the 1980s, The Roundhouse’s former elegance was still evident when a hospitality company called Let’s Sell Lobster viewed it in 2005, looking for a property to epitomise their passion. A year later they had acquired the rights to concession, and in 2008 The Roundhouse opened its doors, welcoming guests once more.
The Roundhouse as it stands today is the perfect culmination of its history – it offers the same spectacular setting and views as when it was originally built, and the fruit trees planted 300 years ago still grace the grounds today; it captures the spirit of elegance and luxury from Somerset’s day, inspiring nostalgia for the golden age of romance; and still emphasises The Roundhouse’s greatest feature – exceptional hospitality – which has formed the golden thread throughout its existence. All these elements are embodied in the superb experience The Roundhouse offers guests today.