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The Inn on the Square in Cape Town has long sat at the heart of city life.
It faces on to Greenmarket Square and the terrace, in many incarnations, has provided the perfect spot for beer-drinking and people watching,
The hotel recently had a R35-million refurbishment.
As a Capetonian, the hotel itself had been of little interest apart from regular use of its bars and restaurants … until IOL Travel was asked to review it after the remake.
So my husband and I made a sleepover date for our nine-year-old and set about being tourists in our own city.
We arrived at about 5pm on a swelteringly humid Cape Town Saturday afternoon. Our plan was dinner in the hotel restaurant followed by a stroll up Long Street but first we wanted something cold to drink.
So we made our way to our double room which was small but comfortable and decorated in the sort of dark wood-Zen way that seems fashionable at the moment. We stood for a moment in front of the airconditioning and then set off in search of that cold drink.
On the way down we took a quick turn at the hotel's eighth floor pool deck where a small lap pool is offset by cityscape and mountain views. Bring your costume if you're planning on staying - we wished we had! (There's also a gym, if you're so inclined).
And so to the familiar-yet-new terrace.
The square is the same cobbled place it's always been and the terrace has been dolled up with some minimalist white furniture. So far, so good. We asked our waiter for the coldest beer they had, and he conjured up two Castle draughts that were in fact icy cold. Fabulous!
Then back to our room for more standing in front of the aircon and a cool shower in the dinky little bathroom which had a lovely big shower - though one had to so some fancy footwork when opening and closing the bathroom and shower doors.
And here was only the small quibble of our stay: why did the bathroom not have its own bin? It's a small thing, but it did feel a little odd.
Then to dinner at the hotel restaurant, Dish.
Here we found good food and friendly - if a little rustic - service.
Bob had mussels in a cream sauce for a starter, while I wanted only a main so as to leave room for the cheese platter. We weren't asked about the order in which we wanted all this served and so my sirloin steak arrived at the same time as Bob's mussels. But I was hungry so this was really of no matter. The steak was among the best I've had in a long time, the potato wedges perhaps a bit overdone. Bob's mussels were good - not frozen, we thought - and the creamy sauce they were in was wonderful, with a clear taste of the sea.
Bob's main course was paella with prawns and mussels. He said it wasn't a real paella (but then he is snobbish about these things, having lived in Spain for a year) but it tasted good.
Our bottle of Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc wasn't that cold when it arrived, but the ice bucket helped (and we weren’t asked to taste the wine before it was poured).
The cheese platter had some good preserves and crackers, but the cheeses were a little pedestrian
The meal came in at R370, including an extra glass of wine and excluding tip, which is good value for central Cape Town.
Our planned excursion up Long Street nearly suffered an early setback as we'd managed to come out without much cash in hand - and a stroll round the nearby ATMs found them all closed. The helpful concierge pointed us in the direction of an ATM at Mandela Rhodes Square, though, and we were off into the hubbub.
The Inn on the Square is just one block from Long Street so this is a thing one can do on foot - ideal for tourists visiting the city and wanting local colour without too much hassle.
We were back at the hotel at about 10am and spent a comfortable night on a good mattress.
Breakfast in the hotel is served from 6.30am to 10.30am and we were down by about 9.30am. The usual hot and cold buffets are on offer, with good cereal, fruit and yogurt selections and a wide range of hot foods (bacon, eggs made to order, sausage, grilled mushrooms and so on). We ate well, checked out and set off for home mightily refreshed by our mini-city break.
* As a woman who's done some solo business travelling, I thought the Inn on the Square would be a good option - you can get dinner and breakfast on the premises, there are good eating places and entertainment facilities nearby and the whole place felt safe and cosy. Recommended! - IOL
MID Season Period (January 1, 2012 to end April 2012, and then from October 1 to December 31 2012)
Standard Single Room R 1460 BB
Standard Twin/Double Room R 1560 BB
Family Room Single R 1860 BB
Family Room Twin/Double R 1980 BB
LOW Season Period (May 1 to September 30)
Standard Single Room R 960 BB
Standard Twin/Double Room R 1020 BB
Family Room Single R 1200 BB
Family Room Twin/Double R 1260 BB
Rates include 1% Tourism Levy, 14% VAT & Breakfast
Valet parking additional R 70 per night per vehicle