Tag Archives: hotel

My view from the Westin hotel

My view from the Westin hotel
I stayed over at the Westin hotel in Cape Town a few weeks ago. Tonight reminded me of exactly that night. It was cold, windy, and rainy. The overnight in the Westin was great - it really is a lovely hotel.

Unfortunately I never had one of the awesome rooms - the ones that face Table Mountain and the setting sun! So, if you plan on staying at the Westin, try to organise that you get a room facing Signal Hill's direction. :)

Below are a few more photos taken from my room on the 8th floor - a little later in the evening.

Indoors at Santé

Indoor swimming pool
In my previous post I spoke about the fact that we were a little disappointed by Santé Spa... not the spa part, but the restaurant and apparent barrenness.

I took this photo through of the spa's indoor swimmingpool - isn't it lovely? Can you imagine spending a few hours in this room, away from the often-persistent-and-annoying Cape wind? Even though the restaurant and the grounds outside left me generally uninspired, there may be merit in visiting the spa to spend a day at the spa... to get away from the busyness and clutter of our lives.

Santé Spa – a little less than expected

Santé Spa
We visited Santé Spa in the Franschhoek Valley for their Sunday buffet lunch. Unfortunately, we should have known not to visit a health spa for a Sunday buffet! The food wasn't very exciting - in fact, it was pretty extremely bland-tasting, the type that health-nuts would go crazy over. Minimal salt, little flavour, and no yummies. :)

Do you may recall J Arthur Brown and the Fidentia asset management scandal of a few years ago? As far as I know, Santé Spa was (or is) owned by by Mr. Brown's wife and I can only assume that Santé was somehow negatively effected by scandal. The hotel and spa seemed extremely quiet - almost dead. In fact, I swear that I saw a tumbleweed pass us in the courtyard!

The only thing that we really enjoyed about our visit was the drive and the beautiful views of the spectacular Simonsberg Mountain Range. Hopefully with some tender loving care they'll step up their game and become one of the great resorts of the Franschhoek Valley, but as for now, I can't say that we were overly excited.

Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel

Salt Restaurant at the Ambassador Hotel
I took this photo from our table alongside the large windows that show off Table Bay and the great Atlantic Ocean. Salt, the Ambassador Hotel's restaurant, is perched directly above the hotel - which (as you can see) is positioned practically against the water's edge. Imagine staying here for a few nights - wouldn't it be just utterly sublime?

In my next post I'll tell you a little more about the awesome meal that we enjoyed, but for now, visit their website to see the beautiful photo taken of the view from inside the restaurant. It's truly a spectacularly romantic spot for evening dining.

Visiting the One & Only

One & Only at the Waterfront
In my previous post I mentioned that we'd visited the One & Only at the Waterfront for high tea. This was the first time that we'd visited the hotel during the day, so the view from the huge (huge) glass window at Vista Bar was quite different, and more beautiful that I thought it would be.

I thought (for some silly reason) that the hotel was a single building, perhaps with a pool and water feature at the back. What I hadn't realised is that the One & Only is built in the shape of a circle around a perfectly-inviting communal swimming pool area (a place where many of the guests appeared to be relaxing) and a beautiful canal, lined with well-kept green vegetation (like the agapanthus that I wrote about previously).

The photo above is of the view from Vista Bar, and specifically of the large metal brackets that keep the huge windows in place. Visit our One & Only album to see a few more photos, including a few taken outside along the canal.

A village-like hotel at Spier

Spier Hotel
I wrote two articles, including a brief review, about our stay at the Spier estate last week (one, two). Today I'd like to share this night-time photo of the hotel complex - doesn't it look extremely Grecian to you?

Each block of the hotel comprises four apartments, with some (like ours) overlooking lovely little swimming pools. The air on this particular night was warm and there wasn't any wind to speak of - it really was a relaxing atmosphere.

The Spier estate has a few restaurants at which you could dine, as well as a deli that sells the makings of a great picnic that you could enjoy on their lawns. Beware though that the deli is frightfully expensive and the estate prohibits private picnics (although, I've never seen this enforced).

Reader tip: The lawn in front of the deli is most often pretty noisy because of all the families with kids. If you're facing the lawn, walk about 200 or 300 meters to the right (in the direction of Moyo and 8 Restaurant). The first lawn the you encounter is a little quieter, but if you head on past the amphitheater (close to the hotel) you'll find peacefully quiet lawns.

Sustainability at Spier

Aluminium Cans
In my previous post I mentioned that Kerry-Anne and I went on a little holiday to the Spier wine estate (a mere 35km from our home). The photo that you see in today's post is that of an artwork in the hotel bar. If you look closely you'll notice that the entire work has been created using old aluminium cans.

My extremely condensed review of the two days is that the accommodation was great, the grounds are lush and green, the swimming pools were beautifully warm (around 28°C) and the buffet breakfast was outstanding. The evening dinner at the restaurant left plenty to be desired though. We found the service (then and during the day at the bar) to be extremely slow, and the rolled lamb (with rosemary and stuffed with feta cheese) to be pretty dry with little flavour - almost as though it had been kept warm in the oven for a few hours.

Spier lays a heavy emphasis on environmental sustainability - and whether or not this is just for marketing purposes, or if it's out of a genuine concern for the environment, I'm not sure, but it seems that at every turn one's confronted with notices informing where recycled paper has been used, or that the grounds are watered with recycled water, or that lights that are not in use should be switched off. We even found the water pressure in our room to be extremely low - presumably to reduce the amount of water used.

G-South Africa at the Bay Hotel

The Bay Hotel
Last week Google hosted an event named G-South Africa at the Bay Hotel in Camps Bay. If you're unsure exactly where it is - The Bay Hotel is the hotel between the sports field and Blues in Victoria Road; you know, that really expensive-looking one? :)

I was excited to attend the event - partly because of the interesting things that I thought I may learn and partly because it was being held at in the beautiful Camps Bay. Unfortunately the weather failed to play along, so the two days weren't quite as awesome as it could have been!

For those of you who are interested in what was presented - here's a link where you're able to find a few of the presentations offered over the two days.

If you've just realised that the end of the year is almost upon us, then you may be looking looking for a 2011 calendar. Click here to buy Cape Town Daily Photo's first annual calendar! :)

Conferencing in Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch Lodge Country Hotel
Kerry-Anne and I were invited to breakfast at Stellenbosch Lodge Country Hotel - just outside of the Stellenbosch's busy town centre a little way off the R44 to Somerset West (directions). As you may expect from a lodge, we enjoyed a hearty full English buffet breakfast - not to mention some of the best coffee that I've had in the area.

Besides for being a regular lodge, catering mostly for business travel, the lodge has a couple of large conference rooms, with the one in the photo above (Blaauwklippen Room) opening up onto a veranda that overlooks vineyards and the gorgeous mountains surrounding Stellenbosch.

While the vines were leafless on our visit, I can imagine it to be a most spectacular and relaxing view in the summer months.

The Cape Grace

The Cape Grace
I've no idea whether or not rooms at The Cape Grace Hotel warrant their "exclusive" price tag - but I've always held the hotel in high regard simply (and perhaps stupidly) because of it's name. "The Cape Grace" leaves me with the impression that the inside the hotel is full of luxurious elegance. It makes me think of a beautiful and elegant lady walking along one of the piers at the Waterfront.

Anyway, enough of that - have you stayed at The Cape Grace? If so, what did you think of it? Did it suck? Was it more than you expected it to be?

The Winchester Mansions Hotel

Winchester Mansions Hotel
I previously wrote about the awesome scones and tea that we enjoyed at Winchester Mansions in Sea Point. This perspective looks from the courtyard through the reception hall and onto Beach Road outside. Isn't the dark wood and afternoon sun streaming in though the doors simply beautiful?

Tea and scones in Sea Point

Winchester Mansions in Sea Point
I've just returned from a business trip to sunny Las Vegas, so over the next few day's I'm going to put in effort to get up to date with our daily photos!

Since the weather in Cape Town currently seems like the kind one would expect to experience in England - you know, the wet, cold and rainy kind, I think it's perfect to write about Winchester Mansions (map), a local little gem where one can go to have the most awesome English tea with scones.

Besides for the service being good and the scones being tasty and warm, the venue is simply exquisite. One enters at the hotel's reception area and walks straight past the concierge's desk to this little courtyard, filled with trees, a large water feature, tables and chairs, and surrounded by the quaint-looking hotel rooms. It really is a beautiful setting for a quiet afternoon outing.

The courtyard is a little chilly on cooler days, so consider taking a light jersey or jacket along if you, like me, easily get cold.

Bombay Brasserie at the Taj hotel

Dining at the Bombay Brasserie

It's not every day that you're invited to dine at as magnificent a restaurant as the Bombay Brasserie (map) in the elegant 5-star Taj Hotel. We've heard so much about the Taj that we were super-excited to finally have the opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

Kerry-Anne and I arrived at the hotel, and in millionaire-style simply stopped at the hotel doors, left the car engine running, and handed the keys to the parking attendant. It was awesome. :D

Stepping into the building, I felt a sense of history coupled with modern style and opulence. Bombay Brasserie, shown in this photo, was spectacular, and the photo doesn't by any means do it justice. The light was soft and intimate and the furniture and décor looked like it had come right out of a rich estate in colonial India. The quiet music and super-comfy chairs and seemed to encourage us to enjoy a long evening of dinner and conversation. It was brilliant.

The waiters were simply impeccable, and even though the Taj is "only a 5-star hotel" the staff made it feel like Bombay Brasserie deserved a sixth. It was really the most attentive, yet not overbearing, service that we've ever had.

Now, I've said so much about everything else, but of course the real reason for visiting such a top restaurant is... the food. In a word, it was "WOW". I think Bombay Brasserie may well be the best Indian restaurant in Cape Town. While the food isn't cheap, it's not outrageously expensive either considering the quality, and the opulence of the experience. I guess you could expect to pay around R300 - 400 per person for a very filling three-course meal with drinks (assuming of course that you're not much into expensive wine or whiskey :) ).

I've saved another photo and a few more details for a follow-up post, so come and check back tomorrow!

A beach silhouette

A couple's silhouette
This couple ambled slowly along the walkway next to Lagoon Beach (map), talking while the sun set. The sun was bright and the patterns in the sky beautiful. The view was almost a painting.

I spent the day at a conference and slept over at the Lagoon Beach Hotel (to the left in this photo). While the room was perfectly good, in fact - pretty nice, I have to advise that if you ever find yourself staying over, make sure that you're as far away from the entrance to the underground parking as is possible. :)

The Golden Seal of the Table Bay

The Golden Seal
This golden statue of a South African Fur Seal (aka Cape Fur Seal) is found outside of the V&A Waterfront's Table Bay Hotel (map). In fact, the windows in the background are those that you're able to gaze out of while dining at the hotel.

The golden statue was erected in honour of an old fisherman, Oscar, who often spent time fishing off a nearby pier. Oscar, reportedly, made friends with a seal who use to visit him each morning. The fisherman occasionally use to feed the seal some of his bait, or sometimes even fish that he'd caught. The story on the Table Bay's site is a typical ad copy, so be sure to conjure up a warmed heart when reading about the seal from the hotel's perspective. ;) You'll find their page here.

The Cape Grace Hotel and the yacht basin

Yachts and Boats

The Cape Grace Hotel (the brown building) must be one of the best-situated of all the Cape Town hotels. In the morning, people who stay on the other side of the building see the sun rising over the Waterfront and harbour while the group on this side have a view of Table Mountain, Lion's Head and Signal Hill bathed in the wonderfully soft morning light. In the evening, while one group watches the lights of the shops and boats, and feels the vibrancy of the Waterfront, the group on this side of the hotel gets to watch these beautiful yachts bobbing in the basin, with the sky turning red as the sun sets behind the mountain. The Cape Grace must be a beautiful place to stay!

We've never been inside the hotel - and since we live not too far away and it's fairly expensive I doubt we would stay at the hotel. So, please, if you've stayed there, leave a note and let us know how accurate my description above is. :)

The One&Only Hotel’s private yacht

One and Only Hotel ferry
A slight change of pace from the last post... This is the One&Only Hotel's yacht, presumably used mostly for taking guests from the hotel (located alongside the yacht basin) around the corner to the V&A Waterfront's main shopping and dining area.

Of course, you could walk (it's at most a 10-minute walk to the best shops and restaurants), or take a taxi (probably 2 minutes by car), but this is far more genteel, don't you think? And besides, if I were paying around R20,000 a night for my hotel suite, I wouldn't be inclined to expend any more effort than absolutely necessary either. :)

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel in Roeland Street

The Kimberley Hotel is now around 114 years old, and besides being a place frequented by members of parliament - for lunch - it was, for many years, the place from which horse-drawn carts would leave for the town of Kimberley, some 830km north-east of Cape Town (as the crow flies).

P.S. Did you notice Table Mountain hidden, almost from sight, in the background? :)

5-star hotels in Cape Town #1

The Westin Grand

The Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays Hotel is that large hotel that you pass on your left as you enter the city on the N1 highway. It's the glass-covered one right next to the traffic lights that (if you were to turn right) would take you to the Waterfront.

The Westin Grand used to be known as the Arabella Sheraton, and back then (about 3 years ago now) I once had the opportunity to attend a meeting in the building. Even back then the hotel was magnificent, and from the descriptions I've read on the web it seems as though they've even managed to upgrade it somehow!

The hotel is attached to the Cape Town International Convention Centre and is right next to the little canal that leads from the hotel area to the V&A Waterfront. I haven't tried it yet, but you can catch a ride on little taxi boats that will take you to the Waterfront. Anyone else been on one?

Somewhat bitter; somewhat dry; but never sweet

The Castle Hotel

Looking at this photo, I'm not really surprised that the Castle Hotel is for sale. But perhaps I'm being a tiny bit harsh - it's possible that this location was once (many, many years ago) a wonderful place to stay. I wait in anticipation for someone who remembers to leave a comment and let us know. :)

I found this building in Zonnebloem, just outside the CBD, and right next to Charly's Bakery. What caught my attention was the hotel's apparent affiliation with with Castle Lager (a widely loved South African beer for which I sincerely have little taste, but that my father-in-law loves).

What gave this affiliation away was the lettering's font, the insignia on the windows, and the huge "Castle Beers" sign on the front of the building. Must say, I find it strange that a brewery would have their own hotel... After googling the name I discovered that not only is this building for sale, but the old Castle Brewery in Woodstock (on the fringes of the city) is also for sale.

What's up Charles, need a loan? ;-)

Nobu at the One & Only Hotel Cape Town

NOBU at The One and Only

Tonight we were treated to dinner at NOBU, the upmarket Japanese restaurant at Sol Kerzner's 3-week-old One&Only Hotel. It was an evening filled with exquisite food, top-class service and really great company, in an elegant yet strangely unpretentious atmosphere.

We all opted for the 7-course omakase meal (if you're not familiar with Japanese dining, eating omakase basically means that you leave the choice of dishes up to the chef), which turned out to be a really good idea - we lost count of the number of dishes the waiters brought out to us, and we sent every single plate back scraped clean. The food was fantastic, and included things like prawn tempura with dipping sauces, black cod, edamame, a selection of sushi, tuna sashimi salad, whitefish sashimi, beef kushiyaki and grilled Cape salmon. Dessert was included too, and featured a lot of yummy oozy chocolate, whisky-flavoured cream, and ice cream (as you can probably tell, I can't remember the actual names of any of the desserts... but they were gooooood).

One member of our party had previously been to the London NOBU, and she said without hesitation that the Cape Town version was better.

Read more about the One&Only Hotel Cape Town, and if you think you might like to come and stay for a few nights, check out the room rates so that you can start budgeting.

I can certainly recommend Nobu if you're in the mood for a special night out. Just be sure to dress up nice and pretty and leave your penny-pinching side at home. ;-)

Have a look at the rest of our photos of the hotel and restaurant.

Sol Kerzner’s newest hotel: One&Only Cape Town

Sol Kerzner's One and Only Hotel

For a while now everyone's been talking about the opening of Sol Kerzner's new hotel, the One&Only Cape Town. I'd seen a couple of artist's impressions of the interior (top secret sources!), and had heard how difficult it was to get to see the actual interior (bloggers don't seem to be too high up on Sol's list of VIPs :-) ). I'd also heard rumours of how much the penthouse was sold for (an astonishingly obscene amount of money).

And then, quite unexpectedly, I found myself right over the road from the hotel late on the afternoon of the launch party. I'm rather sorry I didn't have a better camera with me, because it turns out there were some pretty distinguished guests at this party - Nelson Mandela, Sharon Stone, Clint Eastwood and Robert de Niro, amongst others. As a matter of fact, I spotted a paparazzo half hiding behind a tree just a few metres from me - he had a very decent-looking camera with an enormously enormous lens, and looked decidedly furtive. My first brush with the paparazzi! Such a disappointment then that his camera wasn't aimed at me. :P

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place

Mandela Rhodes Place is an upmarket mixed-use development located in one of the oldest parts of the city (very close to the Company's Garden, in fact).

About four or five years ago the idea of inner-city living began to regain some popularity in Cape Town, and one of the most notable developments that originated during that period was Mandela Rhodes Place. The developers, Eurocape, restored several old buildings on the corner of Wale Street and Burg Street, the idea being to preserve the facades and historical architecture of these buildings, while entirely revamping the interiors.

Mandela Rhodes Place was launched in November 2006, and now houses a number of luxury apartments, a 5-star hotel, a winery, retail stores, restaurants, cocktail bars and coffee shops. I've only been there twice (at night on both occasions), but I must say, I love the atmosphere inside - it's quiet and stylish, with a real feeling of spaciousness.