The Queen Victoria Hotel, which opened about a month ago in the business section of the V&A Waterfront, is a chic and classy addition to the accommodation collection in Cape Town, and is a unique tribute to Queen Victoria, after whom the V&A Waterfront is named, with her son Alfred. I felt like a queen for the stay with the royal treatment we received, it co-inciding with Mother’s Day.
A Google search led me to a review of a biography of Queen Victoria, and I learnt from it that Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 at the tender age of 18, and was a short (“less than 5 feet tall”) and feisty lady, who took to wearing “black robes with white caps and veils” after the death of her husband Prince Albert. These two colours, to which Newmark Hotels’ consultant interior designer Francois du Plessis has added a modern silver and grey, and regal shades of lilac/purple, create the stylish interior of the hotel, developed out of the original office building of the V&A Waterfront management company by architect Tarryn Cohen of Peerutin Architects. It is hidden to the Waterfront visitor, and that adds to its charm in not being in the midst of the V&A hustle and bustle.
One is greeted at the dramatic black marble entrance by a doorman, and the reception desks are immediately visible at the entrance. We were welcomed by GM Bobby Pringle (ex-Oyster Box), who was the Duty Manager for the day, and we were impressed to be taken to our room by him personally. He was meticulous in showing us the room directory, the tea/coffee facilities, the mini-bar, the bathroom amenities, telling us what one could take home, and the free internet service. The comfortably-sized rooms (40 – 50 sq. m) have grey walls, discreet white bedding, a lilac couch, a silver headboard to the comfortable bed, beautiful silver raw silk curtains, a crystal chandelier, and black furniture, while the bathroom is in black and white, with touches of silver and grey, and quality linen bathrobes are hung here. There are three showers in the bathroom, one over the bath and two in the shower, the hand-held one having a wonderful strong flow. A large drawing of Queen Victoria is in every room, a clever way of communicating the hotel brand name. Being new, everything in the room was in perfect working order. The rooms have double-glazed doors to ensure that the minimal Waterfront sound is heard in the room. A nice turn-down touch was the colour-matched black macaroons with white filling, placed next to the beds, continuing the colour theme.
The triple-volume entrance hall is dominated by the regal purple carpet, a modern glass lift, a beautiful curved stairway made from Corian, with marble steps, and a 30 year old bonsai imported from Japan. It leads one to the bar and lounge area, where a homely gas fire is lit on chilly nights, and from which one can see Dash restaurant, which serves the best meals in Cape Town. The bathrooms near the bar are done in black with silver basins, one of the nicest I have seen.
Neil Markovitz, Managing Director and hands-on driving force of Newmark Hotels, is proud of his new 35-room addition to his hotel portfolio, developed at a cost of R53 million, and he has cleverly appointed Alton van Biljon (ex-Balducci) as the Food & Beverage Manager for all three his Waterfront properties (Dock House and V&A Hotel too), as well as Executive Chef Stephen Templeton. Both are charming assets to his business, as is the creative and talented chef Oliver Cattermole. The lounge/bar at the Queen Victoria Hotel is the type of place one can pop in for a coffee, and the staff already know about my preference for frothy cappuccinos. Outside of lunch and dinner times one can order from a 24-hour menu, which is available to the hotel guests, whether one is staying over or not.
Breakfast is served in Dash, and was a most beautiful display on a striking silver table, of fresh fruit, citrus fruit compote, berry compote, breads, salmon with capers and lemon, cold meats, cheeses, three cereals, three yoghurts, a beautiful stand with pre-made cereals, and yoghurt and custard treats, nuts, croissants and more. In addition, an a la Carte menu is available, with interesting names of cooked dishes which relate to the Newmark Hotel properties: Royal Breakfast is salmon on a bagel; Dock House is bacon, mushroom and scrambled egg; V&A is fried egg, bacon, sausage, potato and onion rosti, and baked beans; Nautilus is poached haddock and kipper, served with poached quail eggs; Forum is a vegetarian Eggs Benedict, made from duck eggs, with creamed spinach and a herb hollandaise sauce, served on an English muffin, which we had, on the recommendation of Restaurant Manager Darren; Cape Breakfast is an omelette with a range of filling choices; and Waterfront is bacon served with raisin toast, warm maple syrup and crême fraiche. Breakfast costs R250 for hot and cold breakfast, and R 135 for the Continental only, if one is not staying at the hotel.
Parking is available inside the Waterfront business area. Anything one may need, that the hotel may not have, can be sourced from one of the two other Newmark Hotels’ properties in the Waterfront – for example, I wanted firmer pillows, and these were made available from the V&A Hotel. The hotel check-in form gave me a fright, when I saw seven clauses in literal fine print, written in heavy legalese, which would no longer be acceptable in terms of the Consumer Protection Act. I panicked when I was asked by the receptionist to hand over my credit card for a R500 pre-authorisation for ‘incidentals’. I wasn’t planning on having any extras, was staying for one night only, and paid for my dinner at Dash immediately, so this request was waived. I was staying at the hotel on a complimentary basis, having attended an invited media lunch at the V&A Hotel OYO restaurant last summer, and all guests were given a voucher for a one night stay at the Queen Victoria Hotel. I was impressed with a feedback card which was placed in the room, signed by Markovitz and which one posts to him, providing feedback on Reception and Porterage, Room appointment and Housekeeping, the Restaurant, Bar and Room Service, and the Spa and Gym facilities (one goes to Dock House for these).
I feel at home at the Queen Victoria Hotel, being a frequent visitor to its lounge already, and am made to feel very special every time I am there. I predict Dash will become an Eat Out Top 10 restaurant in 2012. The hotel is offering a winter and opening rate until 31 July, at R1875 per room, including English breakfast, an amazing price when one sees that many other 5-star Waterfront and Cape Town hotels charge more than double this rate.
Queen Victoria Hotel, Portswood Close, Portswood Ridge, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town. Tel (021) 418-1466. www.queenvictoriahotel.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage