A hotel stay that transports you to the heart of Mumbai

Taj Hotel Cape Town Mint Restaurant

By Renate Engelbrecht

Wednesday, Feb 28

Having been transported from the Cape Town International Airport in a fancy, black Chery, I could – for once – take a moment and truly take in my surroundings as we entered the Mother City. Cape Town has undergone many changes over the years, yet the inner city and its beautiful, longstanding buildings still hold a sense of old-world wonder. As we parked in front of the Taj Hotel Cape Town, my window view to the opposite side of Wale Street was the beautiful St George’s Cathedral, also known as the People’s Cathedral. Little did I know that this architectural masterpiece, coupled with a large chunk of Table Mountain would be my view from my room that night…

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Bedroom views from the Taj Hotel Cape Town

Checking in early, I was welcomed with a delightful glass of iced tea – a hint of the hotel’s ability to stay true to its roots; a rare level of authenticity. I spent some time in the Whiskey Lounge, catching up on some work and conducting an interview or two, since I was also in Cape Town for a collaborative event hosted by the Taj Hotel and Proflight, celebrating three direct weekly flights between Cape Town and Lusaka in Zambia. High ceilings and impressive, regal décor elements had me dreaming about ball gowns and bubbly instead of the responsibilities in front of me. Even lunch couldn’t snap me out of it!

Whiskey Lounge

The recently appointed Executive Chef, Surendra Kumar has brought a wealth of culinary experience to the hotel, offering guests cuisine inspired by his passion for simplicity, tastefulness and the timeless Sanskrit philosophy of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava.’ Directly translated, this philosophy means ‘Guest is God’ which essentially results in the Taj team creating a sense of responsibility toward guests from even before check-in to long thereafter.

While I was seated in the Whiskey Lounge of one of Cape Town’s top five-star hotels, I ordered the Chicken Cesar Salad for a simple, light lunch. It’s just a salad, right? Wrong! A Chicken Cesar Salad at the Taj Hotel is definitely not just a salad. It burst with delightful Indian flavours – a rather wholesome meal, surprising my senses and dancing with my tastebuds. Considering this and that evening’s cocktail bites at the event, it is clear that Chef Kumar wants to enhance the in-house culinary experiences, elevating the overall dining experience for hotel guests even further.

Chicken Cesar Salad

The room I stayed in at the Taj Hotel (Room 212, to be exact) was bigger than what you would expect of most apartments in Cape Town, with a gigantic, King-sized bed, lovely, large windows, a little lounge area with a desk and a lavish bathroom with both a bath and a shower. The somewhat dated room theme and odd interior colour combinations did not bother me in the least, as I was transported not only to another city, but to another world as I leapt onto the bed. One could easily spend hours in the room, lounging around all day, yet, in Cape Town, there is so much to see and so much to do, that you’d be a fool to stay indoors.

Even the hotel itself has a lot to offer, including the famous J Wellness Circle, where I booked a natural manicure. According to my therapist, the spa doesn’t do Gelish or acrylics as it does not fall under their mantra of being a natural spa. I utterly enjoyed the calm atmosphere and the therapists’ professionality at J Wellness Circle. Had there been more time, I would have checked in for their famous Indian Aromatherapy Massage – a treatment they have become well known for.

In addition to the wellness centre, there is also a gym for the fitness junkies preparing to hike up Table Mountain, and of course, the restaurants and lounge areas offer an array of refreshments and delightful treats to indulge in.

Breakfast was served in Mint Restaurant, which flows out onto the Mint Terrace where Chef Kumar plans to start serving outdoor meals soon. In fact, this is where he would like to introduce foreign guests to the South African braai, but in Taj fashion. His version of a braai will undoubtedly be at a whole new level – something I’d love to return for. For breakfast, I opted for a fresh fruit plate, but when Chef Kumar walked past my table and suggested that I try the Masala Dosa, served with sambar and chutney, I couldn’t refuse. Authentically Indian, it was magical to start the day the Mumbai way.

From there, I explored Cape Town in the best way possible: Enjoying being outdoors, eating (way too much) and sipping on extravagant cocktails and top-notch wines. I met up with my sister, who’s been living in the city for the past five years and we got to catch up over gorgeous mocktails at Gorgeous George. This was followed by the recently launched Savora’s uniquely themed menu items and cocktails in Camps Bay. We were also invited to pop in at the Queens Bar the following evening, where I opted for a Sidecar and my sister went with a cocktail called The Suffering Bastard. Ordering without intention, we later found out that the latter is apparently a rather good hangover cure. Finally, we continued our quest to find the best cocktails and cuisine in town, stopping at the brand-new, Bree Street restaurant, Nikkei. Who would have thought that there would be so many different cultures to explore within one city? From the Taj Hotel’s Mumbai magic, to Nikkei’s Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, we got a taste of it all. This, of course, with the bonus of being based so close to the main happenings while staying in Indian luxury.

Outfit of the day

Before departing the Taj Hotel’s luxurious comfort, I sat down at the Whiskey Bar once more and while I am not a huge whiskey drinker, I ordered myself a glass of wine. Their wine list boasts some of the Cape’s finest, of course, and as I sipped slowly and took in my surroundings for one last time, I realised: The Taj Hotel truly does put a magical spell on you – one that transports you from the reality of Cape Town, straight to the heart of Mumbai.

Taj Hotel Cape Town Whiskey Bar

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