Traditional luxury at its best in Cape Town

By Sarene Kloren Time of article published Aug 6, 2018

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It is not often you get to stay in a national monument, let alone a former Reserve Bank. As soon as you enter The Taj in Cape Town with it’s glittering chandeliers, you get the impression every marble-clad wall has a story to tell of a bygone era.

The building that houses the hotel was built in 1896, inspired by the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.

When converting the building to a hotel, every effort was made to retain the historic structure of the building, resulting in authentic old-world charm and elegance.

The lobby is one of my favourite places in the CBD. At one time it housed the Reserve Bank and contains many beautiful details, including the barrel-vaulted skylight which was built to maximise natural light, supported by four enormous marble columns.

Magnificent king proteas are used for the floral arrangements throughout the hotel - bright pink in the lobby and pale cream in the rooms and bathrooms.

Spend a few hours in this space and you feel transported to a world of opulence and grandeur.

Afternoon tea is served in the lobby. The table was laden with a mouth-watering array of beautifully presented bite-sized cakes, macarons, scones, wraps, sandwiches, mini quiches and milk tarts. True to the tradition of an afternoon tea, The Taj offers guests a selection of 20 loose-leaf teas from around the world.

After unpacking my overnight bag, I headed for the Jiva Grande Spa on the first floor. All therapies are inspired by the concept of holistic living and are based on traditional Indian healing.

Due to water restrictions, there are no hydrotherapy facilities available in the spa.

On entering the relaxation room I was offered a cup of detox tea. It was absolutely heavenly, sweetened with honey, with soft aromas of ginger and lemongrass and after the massage treatment I was taken to the relaxation room again and presented with another cup of detox tea, a plate of fresh fruit and cocooned in a cotton blanket.

A quick shower and I was ready for pre-dinner drinks in my favourite place - the lobby - and what better way to start the evening than with a glass of bubbly?

I was impressed with the pricing of the sparkling wines - there is an excellent selection of local MCC’s - and I chose Pierre Jourdan Brut MCC, which was very reasonably priced at R240 per bottle. That's about the same as most local restaurants charge but without the five-star surroundings and service.

The fine dining restaurant at The Taj is The Bombay Brasserie. Modelled on its namesake in London, the luxurious decor and rich tapestries takes one back to a time when Indian fare was considered an exotic experience in Western culture. Every morsel was a medley of delicate flavours, a taste of Bombay in Cape Town.

My luxury tower room faced Table Mountain, overlooking St George’s Cathedral and looking down from my balcony, it appeared almost surreal with its classic gothic-style facade illuminated in the winter night.

The room decor is a seamless blend of old-world elegance with modern conveniences, with influences from the grand days of the Maharajas reflected in the luxurious fabrics, ranging from plush velvets to crisp white cotton.

The emperor-sized bed was so comfortable a quick afternoon nap turned into a two-hour sleep.

The bathrooms at the Taj are beautifully decorated in warm marble with a massive shower and spa bath separated from the living area by a glass pane, with views of the mountain from the bathroom.

Luxury touches include a bath menu offering luxury bath products which can be ordered from the spa for an in-room spa bath experience and, if not for water restrictions, I would have definitely spent an hour destressing in my private spa bath.

The pillow menu offers guests a selection of pillow choices, including aromatherapy, soft, firm, cotton and feather-filled to ensure a good night’s rest - the perfect way to end a perfect day.

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