“This could be para-para-paradise. Para-para-paradise.” Rolling over to face a dappled-orange Table Mountain, I can’t get that Coldplay anthem out of my head. This really could be paradise…
I am lying in my gigantic bed at the Taj Cape Town, pleasantly overstuffed from the dinner the previous night and somewhat resembling the opulent red velvet chair in the corner. And gazing out at that panoramic view of my beloved mountain, I am surprised that right here in the city I call home, a paradise was just waiting to be found. It is not your typical postcard fairyland. There are no white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and swaying palm trees here. The Taj is through and through a city hotel, but it oozes the charm and character so many others of its type lack. And if you have a love for delicious food, great wine, and a touch of class, as I do, then this is pretty much paradise found.
Thinking back over the last 24 hours, my introduction to the Taj has been a whirlwind adventure and somewhat of a rediscovering of my own city. The day started off with a tour and history of the grand building. Boasting original marble features, the Taj holds pride of place next to the Company Gardens and within two historical moments. One being the Board of Executives building and the other, the South African Reserve Bank. In fact, nestled deep in the heart of the hotel you will still find the old vault and a quaint old elevator harking back to yesteryear.
It’s these old world values that still hold pride of place in the property today and this was never more obvious than when we sat down for a unique wine tasting in the hotel’s very own gallery. As we marvelled at the colourful art that decked the walls, our friendly sommelier pulled some interesting varietals out of the cellar. Discussing the merits of a good Semillon while perusing the work of some of the Cape’s great artists, we were once again reminded just how lucky we are as Capetonians to have all of this right at our fingertips.
But no good wine can be left unaccompanied. So it was soon off to the hotel’s signature restaurant, Bombay Brasserie, where a five, or was it six, course menu awaited. A gorgeously smoky popcorn soup gave way to homemade paneer, basil prawns, a spicy chicken masala and a decadent platter of desserts. But it was just the first of many a fantastic meal at the Taj. The following morning a breakfast buffet of epic proportions awaited, complete with Champagne and sushi while lunchtime on the sidewalk of St George’s Mall at Mint Restaurant included a tuna salad, traditional gatsbys with a Taj twist and a to-die-for Oreo cheesecake. And to wash it all down, my very own cocktail concoction made under the guidance of the hotel’s very own master mixologists in the Twankey Bar.
Surprised at just what a food journey, one hotel in the city centre could offer, we were in for one more treat before checking out. And that came in the form of a free city tour offered right from the front of the hotel. We were introduced to ever more restaurants and inner city bars in which to while away the day while discovering a hidden time capsule, the oldest vine in the city and some unique monuments around town, that I hadn’t stopped to appreciate until today.
As the sun baked the mother city in a glorious spring light, I couldn’t help but snap one last shot of that magnificent mountain view with Coldplay’s Paradise echoing like an anthem in my head… “This could be para-para-paradise”. Paradise, indeed.