Hotel Review: Queen Victoria Hotel chic and classy – fit for a Queen!

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

9 replies on “Hotel Review: Queen Victoria Hotel chic and classy – fit for a Queen!”

  1. Dagnar Schumacher says:

    quite a statement: serves the best food in Cape Town. Who says so?

  2. Ailyssa says:

    After reading your review, I headed straight to Dash on Saturday night. We had a warm welcome and had our drinks next to the ‘fire place’ before being seated! we were ready to be wowed! our first courses were sublime. A mushroom ragout presented beautifully was delicious, and the butternut veloute exactly what the doctor ordered on a cold Cape Town evening. I was, however, terribly disappointed with our mains. I had read the menu online and was excited to try their lobster tortellini. it looked beautiful when it arrived, but tasted like the chef had emptied a bag of salt into the bisque! it spoilt all tbe other elements on the dish! i did tell the waiter that the dish was too salty- he agreed and came back to tell me that the chef agreed too! what a pity that the manager didnt apologise, and i was still
    charged for a sub par course! it really put a damper on an otherwise lovely evening!
    although the service was otherwise impeccable and the restaurant beautiful, i feel like my experience was tainted, and i dont think ill return.

  3. Dear Dagmar

    It is the best Cape Town restaurant, in my opinion!

    Thank you for writing.

    Chris

  4. Alton van Biljon says:

    Dear Alyssa, my personal apologies if you weren’t satisfied with the way your complaint was dealt with. It is certainly not the way I want guests leaving any restaurant. The level of salt in a dish is a very subjective matter and not one easily remedied at the end of a meal once a guest has finished a dish, we would have gladly offered more solutions if brought to our attention immediately. Please come try our food and service again as we value constructive feedback. Feel free to contact me directly should you wish to discuss your complaint further. Alton van Biljon (0767789529)

  5. darren says:

    I tried to experience Dash after recommended on this site and gave up after the efforts i went through to get a booking.

    I emailed them for a table, didnt hear back then tried to call them, went onto the website and the site didnt have a tel number for the restuarant, i then had to ring newmarket hotels head office to get the number, finally got through to the restaurant and they said they did get my booking but decided to wait till the end of the day to come back to me.

    She couldnt give me directions to the place either so i just gave up.

    Since my comments to the restaurant they have placed a telephone number on the site but it does worry me a lot that a business launches without a telephone number on the site.

    The way that Alton (who i assume is manager) has responded to the complaint above is somewhat typical of a cape town reply, if a customer has had a bad meal and will make the effort to write about it then she should be invited back for a complementory meal, i mean why on earth would the person who wrote the complaint want to phone him to discuss the complaint….just going through the motions im afraid

    There are many restaurants out there in Cape Town that make it easy for clients to book and welcome customers, i mean la mouette in Sea Point can take online life reservations which is the way to go, a place that makes it almost impossible to book, deals with customers like the way they dealt with me will not get my business no matter if they end up in the top ten Restaurants or how many times they are praised by Chris.

  6. Alton van Biljon says:

    Dear Darren,

    In fear of sounding rehearsed and producing a standard “typical Cape Town” response, I would like to say that your comments are completely opposite of what we as a team are trying to achieve and we certainly appologize for the fact that you seem to not have had the opportunity to dine at Dash. I am not in the habit of dealing with and certainly dislike open forum discussions on the details of each customer complaint, and as I recall we have, both via written means and telephonic contact, dealt with your complaint. I would love nothing more than for you to experience Dash before making a comment as above. Please feel free to email me directly on alton@vahotel.co.za or call me.Regards Alton

  7. Dear Darren

    I am so sorry that you will miss out on Dash, one of our best restaurants in Cape Town now, in my opinion.

    I am sure you know that things are quiet for restaurants right now, and for a new one it will be even more so, so that you could just arrive at Dash without booking, as we did last night.

    Chris

  8. Jason says:

    can’t we just give darren a dummy…

  9. Dear\ Anonymous

    Thank you for your feedback about Alton van Biljon – we wish him a speedy recovery.

    Chris

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