Booking into a five-star hotel doesn't necessarily guarantee privacy or superior service. Instead, it's often the independently-owned establishment experiences that linger long after you've stayed. My top five include both.
Source: Hollywood Mansion
Hollywood Mansion, Camps Bay
Head for Camps Bay’s Hollywood Mansion if you want the dope on how Hollywood actors Meg Ryan and Steven Seagal live when visiting Cape Town. This is a superlative villa rental - a la difference. Use anything from the well-equipped kitchen for your meals as well as having a full butler service to indulge your every whim.
Mention “coffee” and the house chef is on it. Mention anything else and butler Gershwin Warries takes charge. This includes pampering you at the poolside or resolving room issues. His impeccable manner and service is fit for royalty, no pun as he was employed by the royal family and King of Quatar as a butler.
Six uniquely-appointed suites in a contemporary-designed, chrome-and-glass architectural affair oozes opulence. My spacious master suite upstairs had the soporific sounds of the property’s stream. A sea view, a cacophony of birdsong and a mesmerising blue light made for a perfect meditation. Not to mention the superior sleep I had in the king size bed.
Apart from the usual five star comforts and gadgets, there were ten wardrobes in the dressing room. My possessions on a single shelf looked lost. Exploring beyond the infinity pool and Jacuzzi, lovers will adore the nookies and crannies across the stream’s bridges.
Other leisure options include drinks at the glamorously-underlit bar with its snooker table, a treadmill session at the gym or retiring to the plush cinema if you like your stars that much larger.
Everything at Hollywood is unique, including their custom-made divine white chocolate offered with a glass of wine on arrival. Holding a string of Lilizela Tourism awards, their discreet elegance and sophistication means the villa is an alluring premier photo/film shoot location as well as a family celebratory spot.
Somewhat reluctantly I cross over the entrance’s calming Khoi pond as I return to my own glamour-free world.
Queen Victoria Hotel, Waterfront
An entirely different perspective of the sea from the wraparound balcony is yours if you choose to stay in Queen Victoria’s presidential suite. Every direction you look in is a feast for the eyes - there’s a working harbor ahead, the pleasure cruiser activity in the marina opposite and Table Mountain behind you.
But once the suite’s sliding doors close and peace descends, it’s hard to tell you’re at the hub of Waterfront activity. As working girls on respective writing deadlines, this quiet was essential to our stay.
Why my friend, Manola, and I appreciated the conference table and its very comfortable chairs. Escaping from one another in the 124 square metre suite was easy. It included a comfortably-sized lounge and a separate bedroom.
Source: Queen Victoria Hotel
I rarely suffer from boredom and deliberately don’t own a television. With three screens here you shouldn’t either. Though this time I was eager to watch from the extremely large, marbled bathroom with its screen above the double-width bath. An enormous chandelier hung above.
Big enough to clean several adults simultaneously, my dramatic shower experience offered four functions. My favourites - the pulsating ‘waterfall’ and the hard-pressured spiraling streams – giving a great head massage. Whether the steam bath in the glass shower was by design or accidental is anyone’s guess. Either way, it was a great respiratory system healer.
Honeywood Villa, Fish Hoek
Take a globetrotting five star hotel guest with a penchant for high European standards and service. Mix with the precision and perfection so typical of the Swiss. The result? The immaculate Honeywood Villa.
Owned by Swiss Daniel Schaeffler, the restored historical building and heritage site was one of Fish Hoek’s original farms, dating to the late 1930s. Today, the accent here is on an uncrowded and private superlative accommodation experience.
Offering just three large, airy and uncluttered suites - the Victorian with its polished Oregon wood floors, the pool and African suites - this establishment appeals especially to those who rate attention to detail and spotlessness highly.
Source: Honeywood Villa
How many other boutique hotels do you know of, for instance, who strip the bed prior to the guests arrival to “air” them? Or who offer both a toweling and lighter gown in suites?
Whether you’re at the swimming pool, enjoying a complimentary espresso in the African contemporary-styled lounge or making use of your Bose sound system in your suite, this element is ever-present.
Honeymooners will enjoy the uber-private, beautifully-finished screed floor, underheating and bamboo ceiling of the African suite, a few steps from the main house. Stargazing from its garden hot tub adds to the ambience. That two-thirds of their guests are returning ones here comes as no surprise.
La Petite Ferme, Franschhoek
One destination where skinny-dipping won’t be frowned on is at La Petite Ferme’s five-star vineyard Suites. The Leman suite is so private that no one can see you frolicking in your birthday suit, unless you count birdlife in the surrounding trees.
“If there’s water and a view, that’s perfection,” said Manola. We visited during humid conditions and swimming came with a spectacular view across the Franschhoek valley.
Subtly-patterned décor came in varying shades of blue and stone throughout our family-sized suite. I loved that an endless pile of clean towels were provided. Manola loved the complimentary fridge of beers, a bottle of wine and soft drinks.
Source: La Petite Ferme
Our dinner started with La Petite Ferme’s delicious unwooded Baboon Rock chardonnay – and the sounds of old jazz. Our mains consisted of salmon trout and my yoghurt cheese cannelloni, accompanied by a stunning sauce. But it was Manola’s panna cotta dessert that evoked her inner creative: “An exquisite “sunset” dessert that captures a palette of enticing pinks [mini meringues]" she said, pointing out the same colours reflected in the dam.
My inspiration was the vegan breakfast bowl the following morning after inadvertently falling asleep on the very comfortable swinging chair under stars and silhouetted mountains. It contained labneh, mushrooms, polenta fries and one of my favourites, tofu.
Rolled oats also appeared. I’ve often found it unappetising. Thanks to the chef, I’m now converted to his highly palatable version - oats soaked in coconut milk with grated apple and poppy seeds.
Nova Constantia Boutique Residence, Constantia
If you spend more time than intended in your Premier Suite 1 at the suburban Nova Constantia, it may be due to the 62 square metre size, the extra length king-size bed or even the sumptuousness of the gold-coloured theme décor.
Lavish curtaining, luxuriant carpeting and bedding with a silky finish is clever interior design. Whichever suite you pick here will seduce you similarly. A room and balcony with a view over the Constantia mountain range, a six-seater jacuzzi waits on the deck for you.
Other five star features include an air conditioner, a DVD player, satellite TV, a dressing room and a fully equipped kitchenette. Alternatively, make use of the hotel’s good room service.
Source: Nova Constantia Boutique Residence
Amenities include a tennis court, a large heated swimming pool in a lush, manicured garden with its numerous secluded hideouts and where your continental/cooked breakfast is served in warm weather. Lolling on the library’s leather couches for a read with a glass of wine or something from their bar’s craft gin selection is always welcomed.
“Posh, elegant and charming” and “world-class hotel” are how guests describe Nova Constantia. One customer service activist said: “They always exceed my expectations… I’m impressed for days’.
Confirming this are their Tripadvisor reviews with an empty “terrible” category. A rare sight in my experience!