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clifton beach 1934

How Clifton’s Bungalows Became the Hottest Holiday Homes

Book a self catering apartment or holiday home / bungalow in Clifton, Cape Town and experience beachside paradise. It’s interesting to note however that Clifton wasn’t always such a sought-after destination.

If you look at the history of what was once called Schoenmakers Gat or Cobblers Cave you’ll find that the bungalows that are now some of the most stylish holiday homes in Cape Town, were once the residences of poor and displaced locals and soldiers who had fought in the war.

Often referred to as Millionaire’s Row or Cape Town’s answer to St Tropez, Clifton’s four pristine beaches attract holidaymakers from across the globe. If you’re looking to rent a beach side holiday home in Cape Town, the bungalows and apartments that are nestled between the beautiful mountain and the Atlantic Ocean are the perfect choice.

Taking a Step Back in Time

clifton beach 1934

Clifton 1934 | Picture curtesy Flickr | Etienne du Plessis

It is said that Clifton was originally named Schoenmakers Gat or ‘Shoemakers Hole’ after a defector from the Dutch East India Trading Company made his home in the caves and mended the shoes of the farmers who passed by on their way to sell produce in the centre of Cape Town.

Around the late 1800’s the name changed to Clifton-on-Sea after Bessie Clifton, the proprietor of the only hotel in the area. Later on, the name would lose its suffix of “on-Sea and the area became known as Clifton, as it remains to this day.

In the early 1900’s Clifton still belonged to the British Admiralty and holiday sites along the beach were leased to campers during the summertime. Often those who were poor or displaced ended up staying in this stunning location as it was affordable and easy to access.

After the First World War, soldiers were allowed to erect structures on the beach as there was a serious housing shortage, and these became the first bungalows in the area.

In 1923 the British Admiralty donated the land the Clifton bungalow area was on, to the City of Cape Town and holidaymakers started to flock to the beach in the summer months, as more bungalows were erected by the council.

By the end of this year there were ninety bungalows dotted along the white sandy shores and lessees were required to vacate the premises during the months of June, July and August in an attempt to discourage permanent residents in the area.

These bungalows were leased to visitors who wanted the opportunity to stay in an affordable holiday home in Cape Town that was located within a stone’s throw of four secluded beaches, and over time the restrictions on permanent residence were relaxed.

holidays home  Cape Town - Clifton bungalow

Up until 1994 the properties were still all council owned and were sold only when a ruling came into place that allowed for the sites to be purchased by existing lessees at market value.

Looking at the stunning Clifton holiday apartments in Cape Town and the palatial villas and homes that line the beachfront today, it’s hard to imagine that once these bungalows were all that stood in this breathtakingly beautiful spot.

As the area grew in popularity and became one of the Cape’s most elite suburbs, these humble abodes were tastefully restored and redecorated to become some of the most valuable real estate in the country.

Clifton : a Prime Holiday Home Spot

clifton beach bungalow apartment holiday accommodation

Clifton today | Picture curtesy Flickr | Soliberus

In 1984 Clifton and the nearby Glen Beach and Bakoven areas were all given National Monument status, and the spread of high rise holiday apartments along Cape Town’s most stunning coast was halted.

This means that there are very few large apartment blocks past First Beach and that the holiday homes that welcome visitors all year round are more intimate and inviting.

When the bungalows were sold to the lessee’s, the conditions of renovation were very clear and these Cape Town holiday homes have retained their character and been restored to offer a comfortable and inviting environment with incredible views.

Each bungalow has a rich history and when it comes to renting a holiday home in Cape Town you’d be hard pressed to find one that is not only in an incredible location, but that has a heritage that stems back to the First World War.

holiday home cape town - cape town - Clifton bungalow - 3rd beach bungalow

When renting a holiday home or apartment in Cape Town there isn’t a more desirable location than Clifton and it’s easy to see why the once-modest bungalows that line the shore are such prime real estate.

Ideally situated along the four beaches separated by huge granite boulders, holidaymakers can relax and watch the sunset, spend the day lazing on the soft white sand or drink in the views of the 12 Apostle Mountains that provide the perfect backdrop.

Family-friendly and located within easy reach of some of the Cape’s most famous attractions, this historic spot has become a superb summer playground for anyone who wants to experience the best that the Mother City has to offer.

Booking an apartment or holiday home in the Cape Town suburb of Clifton is guaranteed to be your ticket to a beachside paradise. With a little bit of luck you might just secure yourself a spot in one of the bungalows that have an incredible history and are now the hottest holiday homes on the Atlantic seaboard.

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