Expect the unexpected in Constantia

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iol travel may 20 alphen3 IOL The grounds surrounding the pool and bar area. Pictures: Marchelle Abrahams

Cape Town - I’m in the enchanting English countryside – it’s a scene straight from a Jane Austen novel. Setting foot on the grounds of the Alphen estate you’re instantaneously transported to another word… and luckily it wasn’t from a book and nor was it in England.

 

But first, let’s go back to the beginning...

The five-star Alphen Boutique Hotel in the Constantia Valley is an institution in these parts of Cape Town. Declared a national monument in 1973, it was originally part of the Groot Constantia estate and belonged to Simon van der Stel. From the late 17th century to present day, it’s been converted from a rustic farm to a manicured estate. And in its current form, the Grand Dame of Constantia still lives on today.

Hotels with history speak to my love all things old and grand, but hotels this old just give me the heebie jeebies. With the revamp, Kove Collection capitalised on the hotel’s heyday without the spooky atmosphere associated with historical monuments. You won’t find any musty, dark corners here. Instead it’s all about utilising space to bring in the natural light and emphasise the natural surroundings. The overall decor is one of opulence and “hedonistic glamour” as the website states.

It harks back to the Great Gatsby era - throw in contemporary design touches and what you’re left with is classic heritage mixed with just a little bit of drama.

iol travel may 20 alphen7 One of the revamped hotel suites - complete with twin bathrooms. IOL

 

The drama …

Situated on a lush, green verge, it’s easy to forget that you’re just fifteen minutes away from the city centre. From the opulent yet understated foyer, to the 17th century manor houses - there’s history in every corner. It speaks to you in the soft hush of the wind as you enter the estate.

From the moment I stepped over the threshold in my suite, my eyes began to take in the bold colours juxtaposed with muted tones - and that was only the reception room. On either side of the room were his and hers bathrooms, each one filled with wall-to-wall black tiles. Bathrooms are sanctuaries, they are places of refuge where we can go and recharge away from the prying eyes of the world. I have a rambunctious five-year-old so the bathroom is sometimes the only place where I can escape to – I take it very, very seriously! There’s a chandelier in the bathroom that left me oooh and aaahing while taking the ultimate relaxing bubble bath. I suppose that’s the thing with hotels, you want something that’s going to take your breath away – something you don’t have at home. That chandelier was the pièce de résistance.

 

Do not disturb ...

With two opulent ensuite bathrooms, a king-size bed and 24-hour room service, there’s no reason to leave your room, unless it’s for a leisurely stroll while watching the sun set. Oh, and did I mention that wi-fi access is complimentary and can be accessed anywhere on the estate? And, the multi-media system includes a DStv PVR decoder.

But if you do decide to leave the suite, let it be for dinner at 5 Rooms restaurant - you should make an effort to eat here at least once when you’re in the Constantia area. That’s an order!

The restaurant is the perfect extension of tradition, opulence and grandeur – it’s made up of five rooms to ensure privacy and exclusivity. It’s an experience that will take your tastebuds on a foodie adventure and it’s not a surprise that they’ve made a name for themselves in the culinary world.

The service was top drawer with our waiter going beyond the call of duty to explain everything to us, even taking the time to chat to the head chef about our dietary requirements. Here’s where I take my hat off to chef Junaid Patrick for slightly deviating from his original dish to make our experience extra special.

Orders were delivered in record time and each dish was a visual masterpiece. A word of advice - try the Norwegian salmon, medium (yes, that’s an option). With its herb encrusted skin and soft pink almost-flaky flesh, it was probably the best I’ve ever had. I’ll be back...

 

Earning its five stars

Over the years, the lack of customer service has left a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe it’s age or maybe it’s just so many disappointments in the hospitality industry but I have come accustomed to expecting the worst before the best. I need to be enthralled, held hostage by all that’s on offer – my senses demand it! And yes, the Alphen has earned its five stars in grand fashion. - IOL

 

If You Go...

Just 15km from Cape Town, the Alphen Boutique Hotel is nestled in the Constantia Valley.

The hotel is serviced by three restaurants: La Belle Bistro & Bakery, The 5 Rooms Restaurant and The Rose Bar outdoor garden lounge - booking is essential

5 Rooms Jazz every Wednesday and Saturday from 8pm-10:30pm

Visit http://www.alphen.co.za/packages for specials

Visit the website for more info: http://www.alphen.co.za/home

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