There can be few sights in global hospitality more inspiring, more dramatic, and more downright magical than that of clouds rolling down Table Mountain.
Already an icon of South African tourism, the new wonder of the world truly comes alive when the weather closes in and clouds flow like a waterfall over the sides of the monument.
Down below in the centre of the city, Taj Cape Town has a front row seat, with guests able to drink in the views from the floor-to-ceiling windows in many of the hotel’s 134 rooms and 42 exquisite suites.
Visiting in early January this year, I was bowled over by the panorama visible from my balcony on the tenth flour; the finishing touch to what was already a special experience.
Views over Table Mountain from Taj Cape Town
From arrival, this is a property that fairly reeks of classical grandeur.
Developed from two stalwarts of the Cape Town landscape, the Old Reserve Bank and Temple Chambers, the interior design draws from the heritage of the buildings to craft something wholly new.
Both structures are of significant historical importance to the city.
The Reserve Bank Building, located on the corner of St George’s Mall and Wale Street, was designed by renowned Cape Town architect James Morris and was completed in 1932.
Inspired by the iconic Palazzo Pitti in Florence, it has striking exterior architecture.
The street facades, constructed of Paarl Granite, were designed to symbolise the financial strength and stability of the Reserve Bank, while the front gates, window grilles, and front doors on St George’s Mall are of beautifully detailed bronze.
All have been maintained in the property’s current incarnation.
At the same time, the Temple Chambers, located at the corner of Adderley Street and Wale Street has a colourful history dating back to 1896.
It was significantly altered in the late 1920s and has had some more minor alterations done on it on a few other occasions.
The name was given to the building out of courtesy to the Barristers of the Supreme Court, who had their offices there.
The grand lobby of the Taj Cape Town
On arrival, this storied past is reflected in the dramatic sweep of the lobby; all marble pillars, vaulted ceilings, and glass domes – it has the very smell of old money.
To the left, the newly re-launched Twankey Bar is strongly influenced by prohibition America, where sipping cocktails was a luxury and innovation was used to make the most of the ingredients on offer.
In honour of this staff use intriguing cocktail-making methods from wood-chip smoking and blazing to teapot brewing, and every ingredient is made fresh on the premises: every infusion, syrup and garnish is made from scratch.
To the right, the Bombay Brasserie is housed in the Board of Executors building.
One of the best authentic Indian fine-dining restaurants in Cape Town, its celebrated menu brings the Spice Route to the world plate.
These public areas provide a grand yet calm ambience of tradition and wealth, a sophisticated atmosphere evoking both the history and the hope of Cape Town.
And’s that just the ground floor!
Sophisticated accommodation at Taj Cape Town
Back up in the room and it is obvious this is a hotel that really has its act together.
A bottle of wine awaits on arrival, alongside macaroons, fresh fruit and a leather luggage tag.
These touches are increasingly common in top-line hotels, but they should be appreciated, you miss them when they’re gone!
A hand written note - rather than printed - completes the look.
Other than the views, the rooms offer traditional high ceilings, original large sash windows with those wonderful views, and walk-in closet areas.
Décor is again a mixture of classic and contemporary, with huge televisions, fast Wi-Fi and iPhone docking stations nestling next to dark mahogany furniture, plush carpets and sophisticated artwork.
But before bed, there is time to take in some of the local colour.
The hotel is located in Cape Town’s prime historical area, and is within walking distance to most tourist attractions, museums, monuments, shopping outlets, bustling restaurants and nightlife.
Both the nearby Bree Street and Long Street are packed with bars attracting countless European, North America, and southern African guests, all mingling freely in a boisterous, but not rowdy atmosphere.
Jiva Spa at Taj Cape Town
In the morning I had chance to visit the Jiva Spa before breakfast.
With a philosophy rooted in India’s ancient approach to wellness, the masseuse greeted me on arrival with: “We believe our guests come from God.”
As openings go, I will admit, I was impressed.
But what followed was even better.
Jiva Spa embraces a deep understanding of mind, body and spirit; examining the individual needs of guests.
The ethos of the carefully created treatments is drawn from the rich and ancient wellness heritage of India, the fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty and the healing therapies that embrace Indian spirituality.
What this means is every element of the hour long treatment jelled perfectly together.
During my hour at Jiva the trance like state was never broken – the music, the scent, and the décor all combined to create a complete experience, entirely separate from the world outside.
It cannot be recommended enough.
Unwind at Taj Cape Town
Fully relaxed there was just time for a quick bite before checkout.
Downstairs, the breakfast rooms opens out onto the street, giving a Parisian café culture vibe to proceedings.
As we ate from the sumptuous buffet a welcome breeze flowed through the room bringing the summer streets inside to our table.
All too soon it was time to head for the exit, but Taj Cape Town certainly leaves a lasting impression of the most favourable kind.
Sophisticated and historic, Taj Cape Town offers visitors to this vibrant city, the perfect combination of refined luxury and an authentic Cape Town experience.
Find out more on the official website.