There can be no finer way of seeing the beautiful and vibrant city of Cape Town for the first time than arriving on the Blue Train, where one’s cabin offers panoramic views of the nearing Table Mountain and surely causes every newcomer excitement and an eagerness to disembark in order to stand in its midst and majesty.
After a short taxi ride, my chap and I checked in to the Cape Cadogan; an elegant family-owned boutique hotel located in one of the city’s most fashionable districts. Taking its name from the London hotel in which Oscar Wilde was famously arrested, the charming shutter-fronted Cape Dutch building dates from the early 19th century, but apart from some well chosen antique furniture, the era of the Irish playwright only subtly inspires the light and airy decor, with all 12 luxury en-suite rooms stylishly designed to blend the colonial with the contemporary and making the Cape Cadogan one of Cape Town’s most romantic retreats. Run by the MORE Group, who also own the fabulous Lion Sands Game Reserve, and in Cape Town, a further property for self-catering visitors called More Quarters, they excel at personal service and a fine attention to detail.
Staying in the spacious Presidential Suite allowed us to enjoy the last of the afternoon sun in our own peaceful courtyard garden beside the plunge pool. In the evening, and in true South African style, we opted to cook a braai – after all there’s no restaurant that could please my chap as much as building his own fire and cooking boerewors sausages. If you fancy making the most of the open plan kitchen/living/dining room without having to cook, the Cape Cadogan works with a local Italian restaurant to provide a delicious ‘Room Service’ menu – posh takeaway at its best.
Instead, we visited the local Checkers supermarket, a mere two minutes walk, where my chap delighted in seeing the South African brands he remembered from his childhood – Simba Chips and Romany Creams included. Some hours later…the carcass of a Peri-Peri marinated chicken lay bare as we reclined on sun-loungers and stargazed, my chap puffing contentedly on a Cohiba cigar. Already the Cape Cadogan had made us imagine we were at home – whilst having the luxury of a daily maid service and a nightly turn down that brought us homemade sweet treats.
We opened our blind the following morning to find the sun blazing above Table Mountain – under which the entire city seems to nestle – and skipped to the breakfast room to sample the freshly prepared hot dishes; omelette, pancakes, good coffee and a selection of tropical fruit. The Cape Cadogan also serve refreshments and cookies in the library each afternoon – a welcome gesture for any worn-out tourist and one that perfectly captures the attention to detail we came to appreciate so much during our stay.
The friendly staff were always on hand to provide sightseeing ideas (such as shark diving) or give restaurant recommendations, and the hotel even offers a free chauffeur service to the V&A Waterfront where we spent a happy afternoon visiting the African craft market, admiring the yachts in the harbour, and ploughing our way through a platter of the largest king prawns I’d ever seen. Being a seafood and wine lover, Cape Town was something of a culinary pilgrimage for me – and I was not disappointed. Whether you opt for casual or fine dining, the food and wine will rival the best in the world.
The only downside was the fact our four night stay passed too quickly – but I’ll definitely return and there’s no other hotel I would consider. From sunbathing at Camps Bay, a coastal drive to Cape Point or admiring the ocean views from the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town succeeds in achieving a uniquely urban holiday atmosphere and as the finale of our epic South African adventure – from Limpopo, Johannesburg, Pretoria and travelling overnight through the Karoo to the Cape, it’s a city I will always have an enduring fondness for.
The author flew to South Africa on British Airways Club World, London to Johannesburg from £2,600. For more information and bookings, visit the website.