Cape Town is nothing like I’d been led to believe.
European media coverage of South Africa fixates on crime, corruption and cricket, with few column inches left for much else.
But these topics seem a world away while checking into Lawhill Luxury Apartments on the manicured edge of the V&A Waterfront.
Here all is serene, quiet and relaxed – the epitome of sophisticated luxury.
Essentially an upscale apartment block let daily, weekly, or monthly to well-heeled guests, Lawhill comprises 28 spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments.
There are also two three-bedroom penthouses on offer on the top floor.
Several apartments boast private plunge pools, while five larger swimming pools are available to all guests.
As part of a longer trip to South Africa I stayed for four nights in January - peak season for the destination - and found an oasis of calm.
Lawhill offers sophisticated luxury in Cape Town
On arrival we are greeted at the 24-hour reception and ushered quickly to our apartment.
The process is painless and we are settled in within minutes.
In the apartment a large balcony affords breathtaking views over the marina that surrounds the property.
Paddle boarders float gently past on the crystal clear water as the summer sun shines down.
Although security around the perimeter is tight, inside the cordon the feeling is spacious and peaceful.
Back inside and the décor is as sleek and contemporary as can be, with touches of local colour, including antler ornaments and animal hide rugs, thrown in for good measure.
Décor is modern with touches of local colour
Our two bedroom apartment could easily have accommodated a family of four, with oodles of space to roam around in.
Each apartment features a fully equipped kitchen, dining area and open plan lounge, as well as air conditioning and wireless internet access.
This can keep costs down, as visitors can skip dining out each night and is also ideal for guests in town for prolonged periods.
Residents are largely left to their own devices while at Lawhill and we hardly saw another soul during our time there – which was something of an added bonus.
Service in South Africa can be fussy, even in the most upscale places, with staff crowding around, eager to please.
Lawhill largely avoids this pitfall, with its ‘hands off’ approach coming as a welcome relief.
This is a real ‘home-away-from-home’, enjoying complete privacy with flourishes of luxury.
Lawhill is ideal for long-stay guests in Cape Town
But it is the location that really sets the residence apart.
Adjacent to the One & Only Cape Town, guests have direct access to the hotel facilities, including its award-winning spa and restaurants, while some of the city’s finest nightspots and restaurants are within easy walking distance.
Resembling a Disney Land version of South Africa, the nearby V&A Waterfront is situated at the foot of Table Mountain, within a stone’s throw from the Cape Town Stadium and in the heart of a working harbour.
Visitors have access to hundreds of upmarket shops, restaurants, and bars, all situated in a cosmopolitan, vibrant atmosphere.
The feeling is very European, with international visitors mingling casually with locals.
This is the safest and most high-end part of the city, certainly for tourists, and it is a great place to while away the time eating, drinking, and unwinding from the stresses of the outside world.
V&A Waterfront also offers a mixture of activities for the whole family.
The Cape Wheel offers great views over the city, while those with a taste for history can catch boats for Robben Island from the Nelson Mandela Gateway.
You can also opt to go to the cinema, watch a show, or even spend time browsing through the hundreds of art galleries, clothing stores, and curio shops that can be found along the waterfront.
V&A Waterfront is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa as a destination is also getting more popular all the time.
The country welcomed a total of 522 659 arrivals in December 2016 alone, marking an eight per cent increase year-on-year.
Guests come largely from the surrounding nations, but there are also a growing number of travellers arriving from Europe and North America.
The fourth quarter 2016, from October to December 2016, also experienced a six per cent increase year-on-year compared to the same quarter in 2015 – suggesting more people than ever before are taking the plunge.
According to Enver Duminy, chief executive, Cape Town Tourism: “These figures represent an enormous boost to the city’s economy during December, as well as an indication that the growth potential in the tourism sector remains positive.
“While it’s still high season, with plenty of visitors still to arrive, we’re confident that the 2016/2017 holiday period will be one of the most successful ever.”
Lawhill is well placed to benefit from the boom – an ideal base from which to explore the Mother City, while offering luxurious, private accommodation in a comfortable atmosphere.
Lawhill is a previous winner at the World Travel Awards
Overlooking Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront marina, Lawhill offers travellers a taste of luxury living at the ‘hottest address in Cape Town’.
The property is considered South Africa’s Leading Serviced Apartments by the World Travel Awards.
Find out more on the official website.