First-time international visitors to Cape Town, expecting an African experience, are often disappointed. Almost everywhere they go, the architecture is European, the menu Mediterranean, the tableware imported and the décor colonial. On a rainy day, you may be sipping your earl grey tea on the leafy side of Table Mountain and feel like you never left mother England. This is not the case at the Hout Bay Manor.
The interior was designed by acclaimed Cécile & Boyds, and is a colourful celebration of African art and symbols. The longer you linger, the more you will notice how the space playfully utilizes every-day objects from different cultures of the continent. Traditional beaded headgear have been turned into lamps, wooden headrests find a place in the bathroom, red lucky beans set in glass become paperweights and a seed believed to render the bearer irresistible to a potential lover doubles as a key ring. Still, the feeling of Hout Bay Manor is crisp and modern and will appeal to visitors that are used to the finest in the hospitality industry.
We stayed in the very spacious Zulu room and loved the Nguni skin on the gleaming wooden floor, the splashes of vibrant pink and orange, combined with a few elegant furniture pieces and original local art. The polished rawness of the shower’s pebble floor and exposed copper pipes, contrast well with a dazzling glass chandelier in the bathroom. All the bathroom products at Hout Bay Manor are from the locally produced Earth range.
There was a moment of panic as I, who clear out a small tea plantation every year with the amount of green tea that I consume, did not spot any tea and coffee making facilities in the room. But the never-tiring room service delivered endless pots of tea to our room at no extra charge. Glass jars stocked with complimentary nougat, biscuits and other sweet treats are stationed throughout the hotel.
During summer the heated swimming pool must be great fun and the hotel provides kikoys and picnic baskets if you want to spend your day around the pool and garden area. As we visited in the middle of the winter, we opted for the Inzolo Wellness Spa instead. Unfortunately, there was only one therapist on duty and as earlier appointments had overrun their time, we were a little disappointed that we could not enjoy all the treatments that we booked. But Jack thoroughly enjoyed his Marula and Neroli massage, and I thought my pedicure was perfectly done.
We did not get round to the wine tasting in the Hout Bay Manor’s own cellar, but were impressed by the collection of South African favourites on the wine list of their in-house restaurant, Pure. Their angelfish with lemon butter sauce and roasted aubergine and tomatoes was one of the tastiest meals that I’ve had in a long time and the fresh-out-of-the-oven dark chocolate fondant with its rich, melting core was definitely the right choice for a dessert.
On checking out, we were surprised by a hamper pack of snacks for the road, sealing the good experience at this friendly luxury hotel. I can recommend the Hout Bay Manor to couples, families and business travelers who want to stay somewhere with interesting, original design and in a tranquil environment, removed from the bustle of the city.