Today I’m sharing my space with my guest travel writer, Janine Avery, who recently enjoyed a visit to one of the most beautiful hotels in Cape Town…
The Taj, an inner-city hotel with grandeur at the heart of its’ bone structure, this is one hotel you have to truly experience to understand…
I’ve lived in Cape Town since I was no taller than my dad’s knee and as a result I have taken the city for granted. Favouring a quiet life in the ‘burbs, I find that every time I dare brave the traffic for a night out on the town I am amazed at how this glorious beauty I thought I knew, has changed her face yet again!
Amongst the hallmark museums of Gardens, and lying alongside the stone façade of St George’s Cathedral, is a hotel that is defining itself as another Cape Town icon – the Taj Hotel.
When this prestigious institution invited me to step beyond its hallowed doors to discover just what makes it so steadfast, I jumped at the opportunity…
So what sets The Taj apart? (aside from this view?)
I discovered 7 surprises that make a step inside these imposing doors to explore The Taj well worth it!
The Taj Hotel is unique in that it’s set within two old heritage buildings, with a new modern tower jutting out of the top. Part South African Reserve Bank, part Temple Chambers and part brand-new building, the outside and inside of the Taj reflect this amalgamation of architecture. You can still see the old Reserve Bank marble columns and floor inside the grand entrance hall and you can choose between staying in the heritage rooms or in the modern section – I opted for the more modern rooms which offer fabulous views over the city and church below!
The Taj also owns another old building, located just next door to their restaurant and accessed from a secret entrance on St George’s Mall. This underutilized building boasts flamboyant artworks and more grandiose architecture, but also a secret vault! Once the actual vault of the reserve bank, you can still find some hidden safety deposit boxes in here (we were tempted to call up the nearest locksmith to see what was inside.) This secret spot can be rented for small conferences or parties – we think a murder mystery event would just be perfect here!
Lunch at Mint
The hotel’s main restaurant, Mint, has recently undergone a major refurb and is decorated in tasty mint hues; however it takes its name from the old money mint that used to be based on this spot. Sitting in the private courtyard on St George’s Mall we drank in some spring sunshine and enjoyed the most heavenly meal under the trees. With a dash of the Taj’s Indian flair, bunny chows, Gatsby’s and local seafood was all given an ultra-classy twist.
Wine tasting in the gallery
I am a sucker for a fabulous glass of wine, so when I heard the Taj Cape Town does their very own tasting I couldn’t resist. Having tasted wine at almost every farm from Constantia, to Robertson, Hermanus and Stellenbosch, this venue brings them all under one roof. We tasted unique varietals from different regions around the Cape all the while admiring the exquisite local art that adorned the gallery rooms. An intimate and elegant affair, a quick journey around the Winelands without ever having to leave to the hotel, was a pleasant surprise!
Walking tour of Cape Town
All for a weekend rediscovering my own city, one of the highlights of my stay was joining the free morning walking tour offered to guests of the hotel. I listened attentively with the other tourist’s to the guides tips and tricks on where to eat, marveling at the new number of gin bars and rooftop eateries that are spring up in the city. Also never one to pass on a stroll through the Company’s Gardens, I was reminded just how beautiful my home town really is!
Located on the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets, the Twankey Bar provided the setting for a fun afternoon cocktail making. Delighted to be behind the bar, we blended colourful concoctions of rum and gin, while learning what goes in to making the perfect cocktail! Mixology lesson complete we sank into the opulent red chairs for some more cocktail perfection. Their Earls Lady which is a unique blend of Campari, Tanquery and Earl Grey tea comes highly recommended!
Decadent Indian Affairs
The perfect ending to our exquisite stay at Taj Cape Town was to be found at the Bombay Brasserie. Here we indulged in a five course Indian Affair, each delicious bite paired with amazing local wines. Although I would struggle to pronounce the names of each dish, their flavour absolutely blew me away. Topped off with super attentive service and a beautiful setting, its safe to say I will be returning… again and again.
Text & Images: Janine Avery