Lifestyle Luxury Hotels

Johannesburg and Cape Town

Both South Africa’s main cities, Johannesburg and Cape Town, have so much to offer. OK, I know Pretoria is the capital of lovely, so-worthwhile South Africa but really, who wants to go there? Far more exciting to head for Johannesburg, the business ‘capital’ of the country. The Saxon is where the young-successful locals (the Africans as opposed to the whites) seem to meet.

Taj's Presidential Suite Johannesburg

The terrace of Taj's Presidential Suite

These people know their wines, they know their cars (the Portia, sic, is the favorite brand) and they know the good life. I loved the gym, my favorite Technogym equipment and look what hangs overhead, egging one on, so to speak. But for glorious views, Orient-Express’ Westcliff undoubtedly wins.

From my terraces of the Stephanie Powers Suite I looked over the hotel’s lovely outdoor pool and terrace, and Johannesburg Zoo and to distant Rosebank. The view was so amazing, indeed, that I dined in, off a bottle of bubbly – or part of it – and my comfort-food mainstay, fish and chips. The very-generous portion came with lots of mushy peas and tartare sauce.

A gal-by-herself loves room service.OK, time for Cape Town. I stayed in the doyenne of that city, the one-and-only Mount Nelson, so beautiful, lovely gardens, and with, now, a fabulously modern Planet restaurant (even my connoisseur friend Robert Appelbaum, part of the HOTELS magazine’s 2011 great hotel restaurants of the world judging panel, raved about it). One morning in Cape Town I breakfasted with another dear friend, Lew Rood of Singita. We met at the buffet in Taj Cape Town.

I also spent a night in the Tata Suite of Taj Cape Town. WOW, it has the most sensational rooftop eyrie imaginable, a glass-walled ‘bubble’ reached only above the suite. The enormous terrace that goes with all this turns into the ideal party spot at night. Real-wood ‘brais’, firepits, can be used year-round as the hotel provides plenty of blankets.

My last day in South Africa I went along to Twelve Apostles for lunch with one of Lew’s former colleagues, Horst Frehse, who is now GM of this great, over-the-crashing-waves Red Carnation Hotel. I met up with Luke Bailes, who owns Singita. What a small world. And of course there had been time, on this trip, for some serious winetasting at Strandveld