Hotel check: The Taj Cape Town

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What’s it Like:

It’s a bit like asking what a supermodel is is like on the ramp during Paris Fashion Week. Perfect in every respect. I’ve had my fair share of luxury hotel experiences both in SA and around the world. The Taj manages to blend down to earth hospitality with sumptuous opulence. In a city that is starting to be slightly overloaded with top end hotels, this hostelry stands heads and shoulders above others. The hotel has taken residence in three heritage buildings near the Gardens and the short length of a parliamentary order paper from the House of Assembly. It’s also within an elegant post dining walk of the famous Gardens, St George’s Cathedral and the National Gallery. You can always judge a good hotel by the first impression, the moment you cross the threshold. The welcome is understated but warm and from check in to room-tour takes less than five minutes. I was lucky enough on my brief sojourn to score my own en suite butler. And buttle he did.  Magnificently. He was discreet, helpful and a good test of a butler is his knowledge of a wine list. This man knew his merlots.  The bathroom was a marble chamber to behold and the bed magnificent in its size. I was a little disappointed in the paltry amount of television channel offerings and the speed at which the TV remote worked. I was also a little confused at the number of light switches in the room and it took me ages to find the main one to bring on a little darkness

Food and Drink

I wasn’t blown away by the room service bacon and cheese burger for dinner. That by the way is my standard check of any hotel around the world. It also took a little long to arrive and dammit when I order a soft drink I’m sick and tired of getting those mini cans. A man gets thirsty after all that cholesterol he’s pouring into his system.  Having said that it was Sunday night edible and filling. I’d also like my butler to have removed the tray later that evening. This isn’t a Garden Court where it’s okay to leave the tray outside the door and the sight of congealed ketchup in the morning is off-putting. The following morning’s breakfast at the Mint Restaurant was nothing short of excellent. Our table overlooked the morning bustle of St George’s Mall, the service if anything was over-efficient to the point of rapture and the smiles from the staff were a thing to behold. I thought someone; maybe even I had won a big lottery prize. My standard breakfast test is two poached eggs on whole wheat toast, eggs slightly medium. I have fond memories of this plate.  The signature dining experience is the Bombay Brasserie which I’m told by others is setting new standards in Indian cuisine in Cape Town. I live in expectation.

Service and Sundries.

The establishment has only been open for a matter of weeks. When I was there some light renovation work was being done in the main lounge. I waited to see if someone would ask if I minded the necessary drilling and hammering. An assistant manager appeared with a concerned expression and apologised and asked if he could move me up to the well appointed business centre. It wasn’t necessary but his ease of conversation and explanation was warmly received.  During my early morning I also encountered some difficulty with my hire care chauffer service. The Taj was put out on my behalf – I liked that – and even offered free of charge to ferry me to my first appointment. I was sorely tempted if only to ask if they could pack a picnic lamb korma. I suspect they would have.

Room Features and Facilities.

There are walk out balconies in the tower rooms and walk in showers. All bathrooms have Molton Brown amenities. There is high speed wireless internet, three telephones in each room as well as an i-pod docking station and charger. And if that exhausts you there is a fully stocked mini-bar and tea and coffee making facilities. Good coffee by the way and even better complimentary chocolates.

The verdict.

In a sea of luxury hotels in the city this one is going to become a firm favourite. It combines discreet international style with a touch of the orient and good South African style warmth and hospitality. Because of the added benefit of location it will become a firm favourite I imagine on the business and diplomatic circuit. I wish it well and thanks by the way for the complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste, available in the room and not a long phone call away. 

Contact

+27 (0)21 819 2000, Tajhotels.com/capetown

 Jeremy Maggs