Cape Town is not short of luxurious places to stay, from sophisticated heritage hotels to new-world, chic boutiques. But for the modern OutThere traveller, there’s one place that stands out in the Mother City, the One&Only Cape Town, at the very heart of the historic V&A Waterfront.
Our chauffeur pulled up beyond a private gate in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront – an enviable location for a hotel – to the contemporary One&Only Cape Town, in itself a resort city within a city, all built around a body of water with two private man-made islands.
We had our reservations about staying at a resort in the middle of a major city, but we have to concede that it absolutely works. Stepping into the lobby, you won’t miss the perfectly framed, quintessentially South African view of Table Mountain, but you’ll also be distracted by the fashionistas taking in (or at least daintily pretending to nibble, when indeed they’re having their fill) the One&Only Cape Town legendary high-tea.
Beyond the lobby, more treats awaited. Our ‘Marina Grand’ suite, like the majority of the guest accommodation, was in the Marina Rise, along with 90 other rooms and suites. It featured panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows which led to a private balcony overlooking the resort and floor-to-ceiling views of – yes, you guessed it – Cape Town’s famous mountain. But in contrast to the city’s other, more traditional luxury properties, the One&Only Cape Town is clearly designed for the chic, contemporary traveller. So instead of European style interior design, instead we enjoyed colourful, modern interiors and furnishings, not unlike a Manhattan loft apartment.
Another 40 rooms at the hotel are situated on one of the two lushly landscaped islands. These secluded suites are surrounded by waterways. All the rooms we saw were generously proportioned and looked out onto either the marina, Table Mountain or the surrounding water.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
A contemporary stay warrants an activity to match. We absolutely recommend the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, affectionally known as the Zeitz MOCAA, for those looking for an amazing cultural immersion into the wonderland that is contemporary African art. The architecture of the building itself is a contemporary masterpiece, set in the 116 giant concrete tubes that once were Cape Town’s 93-year-old grain silo complex.
The other island houses the pool relaxation area, where we spent much time on resort in our cabana sipping and ogling the impressive One&Only Spa, where we sampled an invigorating ‘Mankind’ massage in one of their couple’s treatment rooms, before relaxing in the sauna and steam room and taking a dip in the hydrotherapy pool.
Although the Waterfront is home to some noteworthy eateries, we recommend booking a table at one of the resort’s two restaurants. There’s Ochre with its Cape-inspired, contemporary menu and impressive wine collection comprising of over 5,000 bottles, many of which are from the best vineyards in South Africa. Or if you can book far enough in advance, a seat at the African outpost of the temple to Japanese cuisine that is Nobu, incidentally the only one (at time of press) on the continent. And you could do worse than indulging in afternoon tea in the Vista Bar & Lounge.
After two nights, we felt physically relaxed, yet invigorated with a positive life-loving frame of mind and decided to celebrate by ordering breakfast in bed. Our decadent feast included a dozen oysters and a bottle of MCC, strawberries, an egg white omelette and, of course, Rooibos tea. As we ate, we watched a cloud of white mist falling mysteriously, in slow-motion, off the shelf of Table Mountain. Heavenly! It’s everything a fabulous property should be and what the global luxury hospitality brand that is One&Only has become well known for.
The hotel’s staff were great and attentive on the whole. The first time we visited a few years ago, there were a number of occasions where friendly banter turned borderline intrusive, and heteronormative conventions led to a few embarrassing (for them) awkward conversations – but nothing that some more dedicated training couldn’t fix and nothing that would ever stop us from making a return visit. So when we did return, we were glad to find that a lot more care had been taken to ensure that guests felt welcomed and celebrated on the resort.