Luxury Hotels

Cape Town’s luxury One&Only hotel

Welcome to One&Only

You know where you are when you look straight out at Table Mountain, Cape Town’s symbol, as distinctive as such man-made features as London’s Big Ben, New York’s Statue of Liberty and Sydney’s Opera House. On a good day fit visitors want to hike up there, to a height of 1,085 metres, easier by Platteklip Gorge (or even easier by cable car, which takes all of five minutes). But as the gal realised when looking at bellmen at the luxury One&Only Cape Town, the weather at the moment switches from wintry sun to rain.

Nobu restaurant

This hotel literally made waves when it opened a decade ago – the seven-floor building snakes around man-made canals. All 132 rooms, smallest size 63 sq m, have balconies.  I was in end suite 401 looked up Table Mountain, and down to the canals, with the hotel spa on a significant island. There are two popular restaurants, both reached by elevator, or 26 steps, down from the lobby.  We dined at Nobu, a draw in getting people actually to stay in the hotel (average stay is 3.5 nights, and 25% of all guests are domestic). In fact, 85% of all Nobu diners are either locals or visitors staying at other hotels.

Richard Lyon

Going back to any Nobu is like going home, and yes, I started with eggplant and scallop tempura, went on to salmon and tuna sashimi and black miso cod with steamed broccoli. Richard Lyon, the hotel’s GM, ordered Waterford Estate Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 (at the next monthly Cristal brunch, on July 27th, not surprisingly it is Roederer all the way). This is definitely a hotel for gourmets, and also for children: there are several Middle East families here, partly attracted by the lower temperatures that Cape Town offers as respite from the searing heat of their summer back home. The rooms and the public areas are big enough for kids not to feel confined.

Colourful breakfast juices

And all ages like the proximity to Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and its shops and restaurants, although with breakfast included in the room rate it makes sense to have it here, in Reuben’s, the other designer restaurant, run by local celebrity chef Reuben Riffel (this is a colourful occasion, with scarlet china on the black tables).  Once again I found happy servers: Richard Lyon had told me how he has nearly halved staff turnover by making their transport more practical, and adding medical support for them and their families. Not enough luxury hoteliers actually follow the tried and tested maxim of  ‘look after staff and they will look after guests’, and the results please the owners, and here the formula works. NOW SEE FIRST SUITE 401 AND THEN PART OF V&A WATERFRONT


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Luxury Hotels

Johannesburg’s luxury hotel-on-the-hill

View from Flames

Four Seasons Johannesburg The Westcliff is, as its name implies, on one slope of a hill, hence the name of its art programme, Art on the Hill. 65 people, no space for more, enjoy an evening of Keith Frisley’s cooking plus a performance (see a jazz evening, above).  Coming up on August 25th 2019 is brilliant Pretoria-born Tutu Puoane: she is married to Belgian pianist Ewout Pierreux and it is really worth checking them, perhaps both, on YouTube.  Yes, a lot has happened since I was last at this luxury hotel, though the view from its many terraces is still the same.

Today, elevators soar up the hill

The 117-room hotel was formed decades ago from a steeply-inclined winding street of houses. Restaurants are at the top of the hill, and now, fortunately, a pair of sculpture-look elevators make the climb easier – though walking the cobbled walkway is great cardiac exercise (the gym is down at base level, next to the hotel’s Deli, where I was happy to see regular local businessmen having healthy breakfasts enroute to their offices). Front desk and conciergerie are also down there.  Concierge Diniy D’Hamzah showed me how the hotel’s boutique is now run inhouse: it is displayed in the conciergerie and it is the concierges, who know what guests like, who do the buying.

Detox salad

Current best-sellers with Americans, he said, are African-type baskets but made with colourful telephone wires rather than traditional rush. And then, in my lovely suite, I called down for nutrition guru Christine Phillips’ Detox salad bowl, holding red and white shredded cabbage, bok choi, red onion, sugar snap peas, broccoli, fresh mint, coriander, sprouts, cashew nuts, seeds. There was Thai dressing to pour over, and instead of the optional chicken strips I opted for salmon.

Thando Madikane

Dinner was at Flames with Aditya Ramani, the new F&B, and Natalie Harrison, a one-time restaurateur who now heads Four Seasons’ communication for sub-Saharan Africa.  We spent a lot of time talking ramifications of weddings, and much more, including guests’ growing enthusiasm for escorted cycling tours through Soweto, and guided explanations of Ponte Tower, the 54-storey structure that see-sawed from the height of whites’ luxury housing down to the nadir of under-privileged hangouts and now, up again, it is a showplace of arts+living+co-working. But there was time, too, to do justice to Knysna oysters and a Kalahari tomahawk, from the Karoo, and Southern Right Pinotage 2018 from Hermanus. Breakfast, in Vue, was memorable for Bernardaud and finest products, and for the magnificent manager Thando Madikane who skilfully managed to help me with a tricky finicky jewellery challenge. Well, Four Seasons are luxury hotels where nothing seems to be impossible. AND HAVE A LOOK AT SUITE 301

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Luxury Hotels

Mandela’s temporary home is now a unique luxury hotel

George Cohen, Jane-Thérèse Mulry

Johannesburg’s Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa has a unique story. This is where Mandela stayed when he was released from prison in 1990 (in those days this was the family home of his friend Douw Steyn, who turned it into a hotel in 2000 – it now has 53 suites). South Africans have a natural affinity for it, says the gal, and, at their first visit, foreigners are attracted because they are intrigued.  After that, they are drawn back by six hectares of gorgeous grounds – see one of the lakes, above, and by the food and service. GM George Cohen, who has been here since 2005, has a magnificent team of 330 who only seem to leave if they need to move away from Johannesburg.

Qunu restaurant

WI had met chef Jane-Thérèse Mulry when she was cooking at Qualia, in Australia’s Whitsundays.  Here, she oversees two restaurants, a fine-dining Grei and a more relaxed, all-day Qunu, named for Mandela’s home village. Her modern-African menu is complemented by veggie options. I honestly was not that keen on a mushrooms and hemp pointillist-look starter but her beetroot main course was magnificent.  An enormous baked beetroot had been bisected and encased in pasty, to look like the best beef Wellington (and it went jolly well with Rijk’s Private Cellar Pinotage 2013 Tulbagh).

Room service delivery

Because I had an 8 a.m. appointment at the – first-class, La Prairie and superbly-trained therapists – I went for room service breakfast. It was notable partly for delivery. Exactly on the dot of seven a senior gentleman wheeled in the most beautiful wood trolley, with a pull-out drawer holding plentiful supplies of cutlery.  Why oh why don’t all luxury hotels throw away those precarious metal trolleys, some of which look and may even be unhygienic, and use something like this, instead… I had flowers, and enough perfect papaya for a lifetime, and so much else, and coffee came in a stainless plunger.  It goes without saying of course that I also had my own coffee maker.

Spa welcome

George Cohen says that for sentimental reasons, his boss Douw Steyn, who lives elsewhere these days, will never brand The Saxon. But this is a luxury hotel that will always be different, and not only for its collections, of books by and about Mandela, a whole wall of African rushwork baskets and so on. This is a luxury hotel with the highest standards, throughout. The gym, for instance, has superb and well-maintained Technogym pieces, and PowerPlate and TRX straps. Come out, to a series of pools, one heated for swimming, another alive with fat orange koi. And everywhere there are this luxury hotel’s employees: George Cohen follows a lesson from Lord Forte, for whom he worked for a long while ago: look after the staff and they will look after the guests. NOW WALK THROUGH PART OF THE HOTEL, AND SEE SUITE 200


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