Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Royale review (Cape Royale Hotel)

When I review hotels I always look for something that differentiates from the norm. Most 4* and 5* hotels are clean, organised, have decent service, above average food, easy-on-the-eye interior decoration, and a bunch of people to carry your bags, open doors, and do all the other stuff you don't want to.

Often, it takes me a while to work out just what makes a hotel special. But sometimes it's blatantly served up on a silver platter - and the Cape Royale is one of those hotels where its uniqueness shone from the first time I entered the hotel: I have never seen such attention to detail before, nor pure willingness to be better.

As I said before, most hotels are clean, but there is not a mark in the Cape Royale that shouldn't be there. The finishes to the decoration inside the building are superb - understated yet classy (think Bishops Court versus something like Century City) - and are maintained to a degree I can hardly fathom. There is nae mark on window, smudge on elevator door, nor stray hair on carpet.

I slid in on a Friday afternoon and moved seamlessly through the checking in process, was escorted by a butler to a 120sqm 2-bedroom suite and shown around the room. The Cape Royale focuses on creating a home environment, as opposed to a hotel room, so aside from what you'd usually expect, add a fully-equipped kitchen, washing machine, dishwasher and so on. The detail goes all the way down to having a hotel room key instead of swipe-cards. Week long stays in normal hotels feel exactly like that. A long stay at the Cape Royale offers a true home-like base.

Staying here during the World Cup works. Although Somerset Road (on which it is situated) will be closed on match days, it has access to High Level Road behind the hotel which will get you to anywhere you need to be, including Cape Town's central road, Buitengracht. It is also well within walking distance of the stadium - if you fell down outside the door your nose would almost be touching it. The only requirement to a World Cup stay here is a minimum of 3-nights - rates are set at usual peak levels, so no rip-off.

Another excellent attraction of the Cape Royale that needs to be waxed on about: free cab rides within 5km of the hotel. This distance includes the Waterfront, Long Street, Parliament, Green Point, Sea Point and gets you close to Signal Hill and the Table Mountain Cableway.

The spa here is something notable. While most hotels boast spas, this one at the Cape Royale offers guests a free 20-minute massage - a high-quality preview, if you will. I don't know much about spas, but after having my back muscles squashed around by skilled hands, I'd certainly say the preview was enticing...

I spent a relaxing evening in the room. I wanted to experience it properly - Green Point was buzzing below but the soundproof windows kept all the noise out. I switched on the flatscreen TV and browsed DSTV without much luck, so I whacked a DVD into the player provided and drank a glass of wine on the comfortable couch in the giant central space of this room.

I perused my notes I'd made so far - it didn't surprise me in the least that the Cape Royale had won a World Luxury Hotel award in 2009 and a Travellers Choice Award this year. In fact, I was surprised that it hadn't cleaned up all award ceremonies in which it had been entered.

The hotel has the bog-standard facilities, but all contain that little bit extra, continuing with the amazing impression created as one enters the door. There's a pool, but it's situated on top of the building with eye-orgasmic views, a stocked and beautiful bar, comfortable sun-loungers and TV screens. Conference and business facilities are provided, but they can seat more people than most hotels, provide soundproof rooms, look out onto the Atlantic Seaboard and have comparable rates - including catering etc - with just about any spot in Cape Town.

It is this obsession with being that much better than everywhere else that makes the Cape Royale stand out - arguably as Cape Town's top hotel.

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