IT’S my dream to one day live in a fancy apartment block with a liveried doorman and concierge. Until such time, these fantasies can be realised when checking in at Taj Cape Town because apparently what I am striving for is to live in a five-star hotel. Sexy Deborah will understand.
In the very heart of the CBD, Taj Cape Town has a rich history, the buildings having previously been home to South African Reserve Bank and Temple Chambers, and later the Board of Executors (BOE). There was once a branch of Standard Bank there and several of these spaces have been transformed and utilised in the hotel.
The main entrance is in Wale Street, directly opposite St George’s Cathedral, where you will be relieved of your car keys and your vehicle magically whisked away to be valet parked. Entering the opulent lobby, off which the grand lounge is located, gives you the immediate sense of the quiet luxury you are about to experience. While this space has marble floors and a double volume vaulted ceiling, tones are hushed and softened with rich fabrics, fresh flowers, and subtle lighting.
There are 176 individually decorated rooms and suites, offering various options for all travellers – from the short business stay to the leisurely luxury sojourn in the centre of this vibrant city, and everything in between.
Our suite had spectacular views – from both the lounge and bedroom – of Table Mountain, flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, the lush trees lining Government Avenue in the Company’s Garden, part of the Houses Of Parliament, and the cathedral, with the rest of vista filled with tall shiny office blocks which reflected the setting sun in a blaze of glory.
The dining table was laden with fresh fruit, wine, and snacks to tide us over until dinner, and the perfectly ordered desk clearly arranged by someone with obsessive tidiness almost made me wish I was there to do that kind of work…almost, but not quite.
Among the amenities is a fitness centre with a lap pool so still it looked as if it contained no water (obviously I couldn’t disturb it) and the Jiva Grande Spa, where the fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty through the centuries is drawn upon, along with 6000-year-old Eastern wellness philosophies devised to align body, soul and mind.
Here I had a Pada Mardana treatment, a traditional Indian foot massage; while I struggle with having my torso manipulated, this one sent me into a state of bliss as I caught myself on the brink of sleep with a tiny delicate snort which is a precursor to outright chainsaw snoring. Afterwards, I was presented with a string of beads known as a japamala, or mala, to aid my spirituality beyond the spa.
The evening was spent in Bombay Brasserie, the hotel’s Indian fine dining restaurant, where every dish we sampled was exquisite, and expertly paired with wines that complemented the flavours and spices (which is no easy task when it comes to this kind of cuisine). As a testament to the excellence of the food, the restaurant was full and busy – something which is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to hotel eateries. We feasted on dishes like truffle scented tandoori mushrooms, seared prawns in butter, pepper and garlic, Norwegian salmon fillet tikka, and ginger-flavoured Adraki Karoo lamb chops.
For a post-dinner cocktail there is the Twankey Bar, and when you surprisingly find yourself hungry again in the morning, breakfast is served at Mint, which opens up onto St George’s Mall. Here, in true Hobbit style, you can have first and second breakfast in the same sitting; there is a lavish hot and cold buffet and egg station as well as a menu with options like a Breakfast Sundae made with granola, seasonal berries, yoghurt and honey; brioche French toast with crispy bacon, banana and maple syrup; and steak, egg and chips.
Everything sounded so good I took ages to decide, while sipping a superb Americano; eventually I ended up ordering my usual omelette and dished up some super-tasty Moroccan meatballs from the hot buffet on the side. Daily newspapers can be delivered to your room for an early start on current affairs, or picked up in the lobby to read over breakfast.
Being right in the city, guests at Taj Cape Town have easy access to any number of visitor attractions, which includes its own free walking tour – a gentle alternative to the gym.
Where: 1 Wale Street, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 819 2000
- This story first appeared in Independent Travel on November 17, 2018
- FEATURED IMAGE: BIANCA COLEMAN ©