Durban - When I think B&B I tend to picture a quaint, cosy, converted house, shared by the owner who is up at sparrow’s call to get my breakfast cooked. But the five-star Auberge Hollandaise in Durban North is far from that perception.
Drive in past the high walls and you see a rather impressive pile – more intimate luxury hotel than bed and breakfast establishment.
The interior only strengthens that impression. The foyer is large and welcoming with a sweeping staircase and a huge chandelier.
Warm wooden floors, Persian rugs, a fireplace, antique furniture, loads of paintings and a relaxing communal lounge area invite you to this swish, elegant space.
There is a side lounge with a home theatre system and a natural progression through the sliding glass doors to the poolside.
This is no converted house, I thought.
Owner Cheryl Burger, appearing with a welcome cuppa, confirmed this. She lives next door and Auberge Hollandaise (hubby Fritz is Dutch) was designed as a guest house from the start.
The well travelled couple used ideas gathered on their journeys to create an Italianate double storey with some grand features.
Attention to detail and design are priorities. The subtly arched doors giving entry to Auberge’s spacious suites is one of many discreet touches. The suites are sumptuous and have roomy, elegant bathrooms with large showers, imported Italian basins, extending shaving mirrors and heated towel rails. The Victorian bath tubs are perfect to unwind in, under the soft lighting.
Nine suites have balconies, five with expansive views overlooking the pool and Indian Ocean, the others with garden views. I was impressed by how carefully the views and lush plantings are configured, masking the neighbouring homes.
It was an absence of something – noise – that brought home the attention to detail. Kenneth Kaunda Drive (formerly Northway) is busy, but the double glazing and high walls shut out traffic noise.
Auberge Hollandaise is built around a large swimming pool area with a deck that leads into the dining room and bar area. An agreeable place to relax – with an honesty bar – and a lovely breakfast venue.
A full English and Continental breakfast is included in the rate. Should you wish to stay in, chef Riona Gopichund, a Christina Martin graduate, offers a light lunch menu. If you give her notice, she can whip up a formal or light dinner.
Down some stairs, tucked below the pool area, is a well-lit, tranquil and luxurious meeting room for up to 25 guests. There is free wi-fi throughout, and vehicles are guarded at night.
Just as important as the comfortable surroundings are the staff, most of who have been at Auberge Hollandaise since it opened in 2007.
Manager Katina Sideris is warm and bubbly. The staff are just as pleasant. The welcome cocktail set the tone for a relaxed stay.
It is a luxurious home from home – cosy and comfortable in winter and cool in summer (with ducted airconditioning).
l Auberge Hollandaise is a benchmarked member of the Portfolio Collection.