Mother City Spoils

by Jared
 * This article first appeared here in the Saturday Citizen

With her ever-growing hospitality scene, Cape Town has no shortage of enticing spoils for visitors – so many that it can be a daunting task choosing where to spend your time. To help I’ve shared a selection of my favourites – both tried and tested favourites and then some new gems.

Where to Wine

Cape Town is the proud birthplace of wine in both South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, and a unique experience to savour the history and wines has just been launched. The Constantia Walk takes the worry away from drinking and driving and allows you to burn off a couple of calories as you walk through scenic vineyards between tastings.

Matthew Stern is the charming host of the tours – an ex-travel journalist who overflows with stories. You’ll come for the wine and the walk and be thoroughly entertained by his tales and winey puns. The tours last around five hours and include tastings at three estates and a generous lunch. Join others on a scheduled tour or book a private tasting for your group.

Where to Spa

When it comes to pampering, my The Grotto Spa is my new favourite in town. Taking a departure from the usual white and airy spa spaces, The Grotto offers a sprawling underground complex – a dark labyrinth of wellness spaces, that includes a bar, relaxation pods, and a hot and cold pool. Their signature ‘Obsidian’ treatment is a heavenly journey: beginning with an exfoliation and mask session in a Rasual chamber, followed by a massage incorporating tradition, hot stone, and wooden techniques.

Where to Dine

In the city’s historical heart, my recent visit to the Bombay Brasserie was a firm nod to both authentic Indian cuisine and all the class you’d expect from the global Taj Hotel family. The evening’s offerings were every bit as colourful and flavoursome as the country that inspired it – a rightful celebration of the full gambit of Indian cuisine, but with some notable Cape Malay touches.  Highlights were the tantalising Amuse Bouche tasters, Smoked Mango Sorbet (a palate cleanser that quite literally arrives smoking), and then the iconic Bombay Brasserie Butter Chicken (which had me ditching etiquette and licking the plate).


Diners will hopefully be as impressed as I was: at the helm of the kitchen is Chef Surendra Khambra, who only recently arrived from the flagship Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Chef Surendra (whose gentle humility caught me off guard) has already been stamping his mark of excellence on the meals, with a new menu launching soon.

If like me, you’re tempted to bypass the Camps Bay strip, a visit to the Mantra Café might help you change your mind. The eatery is a sensorial treat: the lush space is dripping in foliage, barmen mixing enticing cocktails, and then prime sunset views from the top-story balcony (just make sure when you call to book to ask for a table along the glass). Mantra is family-owned – with the family having lived for decades in Camps Bay, which makes the restaurant a welcomed break from the string of chain eateries nearby. In the owner Melissa’s words, “Mantra is an elixir for feeling fabulous offering a unique experience” – and after over twenty visits I couldn’t agree more.

Where to Stay

Looking for the right place to stay, I turned to Cape Town rental experts Nox, and from their bevvy of options selected Kelvin Urban Retreat. This home is tucked away in the leafy suburb of Gardens and is a welcome break from the crowds and busy city hotels. This minimally appointed double-story home is Victorian in structure, and inside an adobe-styled interior that is earthy and neutral. You’ll find wabi-sabi-themed elements – a Japanese aesthetic which focuses on beauty in imperfection and celebrates a more natural cycle of life- such as linen curtains, stone sinks, and screed showers.

The large downstairs open-plan kitchen/dining room/kitchen opens onto the courtyard thanks to the stacking doors. The courtyard continues the adobe theme with a tiled floor, white furniture, and a welcomed plunge pool. Upstairs three bedrooms offer varying views of the mountain, city, and trees, with the master bedroom sporting an adorable balcony framed with Broekie Lace ironwork.

From Kelvin, it’s a short stroll to local restaurants – or easy access to the city through Uber. The house is also serviced daily taking away any holiday stress, and with Nox hospitality – your host is always a quick Whatsapp away when you need anything.

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