Take an historic landmark on the Green Point promenade, add an eccentric Irishman with a vision of something extraordinary, and you get a luxury hotel with a delightful twist around every corner.
The building frenzy pre-2010 World Cup in South Africa saw hotels go up at an unprecedented rate. One of the more controversial establishments, the Cape Royale, went up on the site of the old Claridges Hotel in Green Point and looked like it belonged on a nondescript avenue in Paris, rather than this strip on Cape Town’s seafront with its Art Deco aesthetic and laid back atmosphere.
This is my favourite part of Cape Town. Cafes and bars open onto the street, open parkland lies between the promenade and the sea (with the Cape Town stadium either blocking or enhancing the view) and the suburbs stretch up the hill behind like a picture from the French Riviera. It’s a European flavour in Africa which is probably why Paschal Phelan decided on the Parisian architecture for his hotel.
Unlike most luxury hotels, there are no vast lobbies with breakfast rooms, coffee shops and meeting areas, just a vaulted entrance hall dubbed “The Golden Mile” with concierge staff welcoming you and seating booths for you to wait in comfort. Sales and marketing manager Vincent Bouwer tells me that “the Golden Mile” is there to make guests feel special, as though they’re coming home.
Corridors are non-existent, well certainly the stereotype corridors like rabbit warrens with doors lining either side. A central vault feeds into accommodation areas with short, open corridors leading to the rooms which are all different in layout, furnishings and artwork. But it’s up to the ninth floor we go to one of the two villas on the roof of the hotel with views across the stadium and the V&A Waterfront, and back up Signal Hill and Table Mountain in the distance.
Villa Louise is a 150m2, double storey penthouse with lounge, dining room, fully equipped kitchen, two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a covered veranda, and your own private rooftop garden with pool. You can also throw in a personal butler, driver and private chef.
The lower level has all the living areas in an open plan layout with the second bedroom tucked away for privacy. The main bedroom and bathroom en suite occupy the upper floor with its French dormer windows that open up to the view across the Green Point park, Mouille Point and Table Bay.
Vincent tells me the appeal for guests lies in the fact that they can spend much of their time in the villa, hosting friends and being with family as if in the comfort of their own home. The best tourist spots in Cape Town are within walking distance or a short drive from Cape Royale and your butler will happily arrange excursions into the winelands with your driver and luxury car.
The Cape Royale’s resident eatery is the Banting Kitchen and its menu designed with Tim Noakes’s high fat low carb diet in mind. I tried the pork belly and crackling with cauliflower and sweet potato mash but the variations on the Banting theme are diverse and inspirational – like Caulisotto (risotto made with cauliflower) and Banting lasagne. If you prefer your carbs then speak to your host and all variations of potato, bread and pasta are available at all meals.
Cape Royale caters to the leisure traveller who has time on their hands to see the sights of Cape Town and come home to a base that is away from the hustle of the city or the main tourist areas. The appeal for the business traveller is reduced by the perception that Green Point is not close to the action but for me, this makes it more of an attraction, being in a cosmopolitan area of Cape Town, within walking distance of the Waterfront and a five minute car journey from the heart of the city.
Cape Royale Luxury Hotel
47 Main Road
Cape Town, South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0)21 430 0500
Facsimile: +27 (0)21 430 0797
The Banting Kitchen
Telephone: +27 (0)21 430 0506