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Durban - I’m no trendy – and Durban’s The Concierge Boutique Bungalows certainly is that – but I like to think I recognise good design when I see it.
That, though, is not what I like most about this boutique hotel conversion a stone’s throw from Greyville racecourse.
Sitting outside at Freedom Cafe, having a good scoff under a tree while gazing up at the bell tower of St Mary’s Church, I was struck by the feel-good vibe in the courtyard framed by the converted heritage buildings. It’s a popular hangout as well as a hotel, with many returning guests.
The Concierge is relatively new and made up of four listed houses converted into 12 hotel rooms.
Beyond the 1920s facade, owners Neil Roake and Jenny Foord have created something quite special. Neil says: “I suffer from ATD – attention to detail” – and it shows in delightful, quirky ways in iPod docking stations in the very stylish rooms, and the dachshund theme which is repeated and reinterpreted pretty much everywhere.
Greg and Roche Dry of Egg Design have worked some magic here. They created the interior concept and furniture pieces along with the original architecture by Fulbright scholar, Don Albert.
The rooms are laid out in four bays. Each pod of three rooms can be a shared, self-contained space for groups or remain separate. Some have showers, some baths, so you should specify your preference. You can expect free WI-FI, flat-screen TV, a minibar and room service.
Most of the rooms have inviting verandas which can link up and accommodate quite a gathering. The courtyard has, as its focal point, a bright red converted storage container that is the Freedom Cafe, with trees and an old brick wall planted with staghorns as a counterpoint.
Front-of-house (receptionist is far too tame) Primrose is a real character and sets the tone. The food and ambience in the Freedom Cafe are great. The cafe is closed in the evenings but there are umpteen eateries very close by.
Rates are from R799 a person a night including breakfast. Call 031 309 4453, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.the-concierge.co.za - Saturday Star