CALL me crazy – you won’t be the first – but one of the thoughts that keeps me awake at night is the notion of being locked inside a large department store, or similar. How much fun would it be to camp out in the outdoor section, or play with the toys, or feast on the food? There’s a certain illicit thrill to this fantasy, and I get a similar feeling at GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World, where you can (legally) spend the night at the adjoining Grand Hotel where you’ll never be far from the 24-hour whirlwind of activities available to guests.
The four-star hotel is homely and comfortable, offering one presidential suite and 38 rooms with double beds and marbled en-suite bathrooms. These days you can tell the age of a place by its power points. Older hotels don’t have plugs near the bed because they predate needing a handy place to charge your cellphone or use it as an alarm, and not on the other side of the room. The most modern of hotels will not only have a two or three-point plug within arm’s reach, but sometimes bypass that completely with a USB port. The Grand Hotel falls into the first category, and frankly, having to get up to get your phone is really a first world problem.
The rooms have everything you need, although a pretty view is not high on the list. How much time are you going to spend in there anyway, when so much more awaits you on your doorstep?
The hotel offers private access via a plush lounge and dining area, with private gaming rooms for high rollers leading off to either side. Yes, those whales are a real thing, not just in the movies, which is rather exciting to think about. Unfortunately, I am nowhere close to being one of those, although I do love a few spins at the roulette table.
When it comes to gambling, you’re advised to do so with your head and not your heart. Winners know when to quit and all that. Also, the house always wins, so they say. Unless of course you can exercise the self-discipline to walk away when you are up, which is what I always try to do. Not only am smugly happy to still have a purse full of chips, but it feels like I’ve beaten the house, even in a small way.
When you enter and exit the hotel inside the complex, the door is held open for you by an extremely large gentleman with an easy smile. The envious glances from other guests who arrived there by the main entrance are delicious.
From there, your options are many. There is the casino floor of course, with its hundreds of slot machines as well as blackjack and roulette tables, and the mysterious game of craps which has been explained to me but I find incredibly complicated so I stay away. There is much etiquette to be observed in a casino; the staff might be forgiving but experienced players can be a tad impatient when you fumble around or hold out cash to the croupier (you are supposed to place it on the table and request “colour”, which means chips to that value).
There are several restaurants from which to choose, offering a variety of cuisines. On this occasion, we dined at Hussar Grill, which is an always-reliable place for excellent steaks and a few glasses of smooth red wine. I love that they will also serve you a side bowl filled with grilled fat, and the after-dinner chocolate vodka martini is a must. Sit-down restaurants are complemented by a fast food court, and for live music and cocktails, Jackson Hall is a must.
If gambling is not your thing, you can play laser-tag, go 10-pin bowling or ice skating (there’s a separate small rink for small humans), or watch a movie.
Then of course there are the events and international shows. Coming up are ComicEx Cape Town, a Cannabis Expo (for real), and the Local Is Lekka Music & Craft Beer Fest, among many others. Live performances on the cards include Francois Van Coke En Vriende, and of course, Sam Smith next month.
Why not make a night of it, and stay over at the Grand Hotel? It’s quite the thrill, I promise.
Address: 1 Jakes Gerwel Drive, Goodwood, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 505 7777
- This story first appeared in Independent Travel on March 16, 2019