Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Cape Town is a chic inner-city break for urban travellers

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LOCATED on the outskirts of the CBD, this hotel has grown up from being a bit of a rebellious teen with brightly coloured hair and outrageous fashion sense into a sleek, sophisticated and cosmopolitan adult – without losing its adventurous spirit.

The “then” I am referring to was when Fire & Ice! Cape Town positioned itself as an adrenalin-fuelled destination, encouraging all manner of extreme activities and sports, with an unconventional approach to décor and customer relations; who can forget those individually decorated bathroom stalls, or the Grim Reaper who stood silently in the smoking room?

Today, the “now” is mature, with the lobby and restaurant decorated in soothing shades of mint and cream, with contemporary design in pale wood accents and modern fixtures. It’s still a popular meeting place as the sun dips behind Lion’s Head – which you can see from most of the west-facing side of the property – as the bar fills up with a trendy crowd sipping cocktails or one of the hotel’s famous milkshakes, available in dozens of flavours and variations and definitely not-to-be-missed.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, where the menu has a section of African dishes which will delight foreign guests. Included are umsila wenkomo, which is oxtail simmered for hours in butterbean and marrow sauce; ulusu ne dombolo – tender tripe (a local delicacy) cooked traditionally or with Indian spice; and for the less adventurous there is chisa nyama – a mixed grill platter of sirloin steak, lamb chop, liver, sausage and chicken. All these meals are served with creamed spinach, chakalaka, samp and beans, and steamed bread.

On this particular visit, unlike the many times before, I did not spend the night in one of the “normal” rooms. Instead, I was escorted to the lofts, which adjoin the main hotel and have their own separate entrance on street level (the underground parking for hotel guests has a lift that takes you directly there).

On the ground floor of the double-storey loft apartment was the open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchenette. This serves well enough for simple food preparation (by which I mean it has a microwave oven), and has an intimidating coffee machine which requires a university degree to operate (or you can call someone to do it for you, because good coffee is worth it).

The double-volume window was grand and spectacular, and mirrors on the facing walls stretched their reflections into infinity. Upstairs in the bedroom – which has the shower and vanity inside it – were surprises to welcome me, something for which these hotels are also famous.

Glitter-filled balloons bobbed against the ceiling, their ribbons tied to gift boxes containing mini bottles of gin, eye masks, chocolate, sweets, and very thoughtful and useful shock-resistant rubber thingies to put on our cell phones to protect those vulnerable corners from accidents.

I was enchanted with the pillowcases: one was embroidered with “Don’t go bacon my heart” and the other with “I couldn’t if I fried”. Too cute, and apologies for the ear worm.

Fire & Ice! Cape Town has plenty of amenities for guests who aren’t planning to wander far. The lofts in particular offer all the comforts anyone could need, or call for, including room service. The bar and restaurant at the main hotel are at your disposal of course, and the pool deck has just reopened for the summer season where you can have a drink, and a dip under the starry city sky.

Its location makes this property the perfect “home” base for a multitude of Cape Town experiences. The CBD is within daytime walking distance (I suggest Uber or similar after dark) with all its bars and restaurants and shopping as well as cultural destinations including a number of significant museums. Table Mountain, the Company’s Garden, V&A Waterfront are all easily accessible. We spent our time well with a night of revelry in Green Point.

The next morning, with a raging hangover and wondering how the heck I would extricate myself from all the joyful social arrangements I’d made the night before, I checked out and headed next door to the Relax Spa.

Founded by MD Noli Mini, the spa opened in May this year and is available to hotel guests as well as day visitors. It offers a tranquil haven for a relaxing treatment to soothe the shattered nerves. I had a facial which was nothing short of blissful and just the ticket to smooth away the ravages of the previous night.

Check out the discounted booking offer in the Cape Town and surrounding areas during October and November in advance of the year-end holiday season. The details are here.

THE LOWDOWN

Where: 64 New Church Street, Tamboerkskloof, Cape Town

Telephone: (021) 488 2555

Or click here.

  • This story first appeared in Independent Traveller on October 13, 2018 
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