Ideas Cartel is simultaneously bringing luxury urban lifestyle and business convenience to all, for a pretty decent rate – all things considered.
This is not a secret society, nor the kind of stuffy membership-only club that is known to the wealthy alone, or is a hallmark of more traditional contexts.
Extended Stay | Leisure Centre | Social Club | Co-working Space
While mentioning them in the same sentence, maybe tantamount to a major faux pas:
There’s a way to go to get Ideas Cartel falling from the lips of all the coolest and most interesting people who are not bound to office leases and the constraints of fixed work times, but there is a good pace to what this hospitality company is up to.
Right now, Ideas Cartel is a relatively exclusive aesthetic enclave of goings-on, with public-facing dining and leisure options.
A cursory look at their property portfolio, will reveal spaces suited to more than just Digital Nomads like myself, with fetishized ways of unmoored work-life in this “new normal”. Whether at the Ideas Cartel seaside offering of Casa Labia, or their innercity gem Cartel House Hotel, a visitor will jump to experience:
- tastefully decorated lounge spaces
- inviting pools (picture-perfect rooftop pools included)
- screening rooms
- decent restaurants
- hotels with character
- well-equipped gyms
- and even golfing spaces.
Here’s what they got right since their doors opened: Ideas Cartel embraces the young, and newer (one could also say creative) class from the start; What this means for its hotels, is travelers you cannot put just one face on, hotel suites maintaining a consistent richness of contemporary luxury (designed by Kojabu Concepts) you cannot really compare, smart amenities, and people who’s earnings are genuinely polarising but who can still find bespoke satisfaction in the Cartel experience.
Though you’re unlikely to run into another hotel guest unless you’re grabbing a drink, should you see another guest, it’ll be a wild guess who they are, and what they do based on their sartorial choices or suite.
The Old Foundry Hotel
Cartel’s Old Foundry Hotel, is also an admirable depiction of a modern take on corporate and leisure hospitality, where one could actually day-drink and be working at “the office” simultaneously – a different way of life, which Ideas Cartel is choosing to introduce South African-based business professionals and lifestyle-focused individuals to.
Ideas Cartel seems to be shouting loudly and proudly, that you don’t have to work the same old way as before – try different!
Try an “innovation intersection”.
Decor and design-wise, it becomes clear from the minute you enter The Old Foundry Hotel entryway, that designers really embraced the industrial history of the building.
The spaces at Ideas Cartel are coveted for selfies, meetings, and photoshoots alike, because they are an unrelenting lesson in bringing calm and fun in equal measure, using luxurious textures and bold, bejeweled tones on statement-making furnishings.
Bespoke and vintage meet at Ideas Cartel properties. Both the hotel suites and the workspaces, are blessedly full of contemporary decor trends, which have circled back to bold and tasteful furnishings with traditionalist bones, and them being abundant in comfort.
Both my deluxe suite, and the hotel at large, could be considered to depict inner-city Cape Town’s more urban chic marrow.
While views are usually plentiful the higher up one go, establishments in Cape Town tend to focus on creating an experience within their four walls; and so enjoyment can be found in the decor, atmosphere, conveniences, plating, and service.
The city is made up of cozy nooks, and fine finds if you spend the time looking, and the corners of Old Foundry Hotel are similar.
There are utilitarian desks and art deco chairs behind old factory pillars, and large volumes of classic literature around nearly every other corner. There are gyms nestled away, digital stores for those embracing tech in lifestyle, barista-run cafes facing the sun, and even golf spaces to work on that swing.
The one feature which I enjoyed most in the entire hotel, was the stand-alone bathtub – gorgeous, deep, and better than a massage I thought I needed.
Free-standing bath tubs are features that are actually top of my list of travel accommodation wants. Sure, good food is satisfying to the soul, and a plush bed that results in excellent sleep, is the goal every establishment should strive for…but a stunning bath tub is just such a luxurious perk, that can – admittedly – often push my reviews from ‘average’ to ‘esteemed’, with one master stroke of accessible relaxation.
Food & Beverages
Food isn’t much of a problem at this hotel, with lunch and brunch at the cafe including a brief list of familiar favorites like burgers and bagels. There are breakfast archetypes like the full English on the menu, as well as trendy lifestyle offerings like the collagen bowl available too.
French brasserie fair seems to be the order of the day, and I just bet many a visitor yearn for a little more international flair (think Italian or Asian-African fusion) infused into the light meals on offer though.
My only legitimate gripe may lie with the lack of range for teas and juices at The Old Foundry, and the inability to order the pretty fantastic brunch offerings for breakfast.
My hope is that in the years to come, other parts of Africa get their own Ideas Cartel clubhouses, as well as adding dining hotspots (with more locale-considering adventurous menus) to their restaurant portfolio, much like Soho House has expanded globally with a count of more than 18 clubs in total.
Dining is considered one of the best ways to rake in bigger revenue for clubs, than from monthly membership fees even. To go further, bigger, and be better, Ideas Cartel will have to be far more transportive and delicious in their menus and designed spaces.
The opportunity is right there too, to recruit a rotating pool of young and hungry Chefs-in-Residence to show Ideas Cartel as being more than one-dimensional in its club endeavors – also showcasing community engagement and job creation in a fantastic space; banking on word-of-mouth to also do its part in Marketing and fostering positive PR around South Africa and the world.
That’s one free piece of strategic advice I can share with this company – in the interest of my belly and tastebuds at least.
Growth of the Ideas Cartel Brand & Membership Rules
Ideas Cartel is also delving further into the benefits and potential of digital commerce, with a budding e-commerce operation that brings art, food, powerful networking connections, and more, to its App-users and members. Soho House made a similar move in 2016, when founder Nick Jones brought Soho Home to people, to be able to shop the design elements within their club spaces.
Having experienced all the other properties under the Ideas Cartel banner presently, I can further assert that there is a flocking of all types of people, to these properties – with their own motivations and needs. The Old Foundry revealed more than just creatives and the young, working and playing. It has become a locale where working, staying, connecting, and being at ease, comes easier and with far less rigid constraints on atmosphere, dress, and decorum.
Rules have always been a defining feature of entry (and revelry) at members-only clubs around the world though…
Soho House, probably one of the most world-renowned membership-only clubs, has a roster of members that include lawyers, hedge fund managers, and even creatives like rapper and mogul Jay-Z and actors like Idris Elba.
The hospitality chain is also notorious for its stringent rules for members, entry, and revelry – ramping the exclusivity, and the freedom for some to have fun without social media eyeballing and judging.
I am still unsure what the full scale of Ideas Cartel rules are (beyond the commendable rigorous hygiene protocols), considering the allowance presently given to non-members to pay a fraction of total member costs, to play, and other such open-door flexibility during the pandemic.
Soho House also has a committee for their club membership vetting, that is comprised of fellow club members – and that means each of the 18+ Soho House clubs, has different committees to be applied to.
I have no idea, as yet, whether Ideas Cartel has a membership vetting committee, nor whether a “creative soul” is the most essential element they seek out in their members, or whether cultural capital or wealth is key. No word on whether Press is banned too, like it is from Soho House membership, nor whether there is a ban on identifying members on social media.
For now, it’s doubtful that Ideas Cartel will cull the herd of pure corporate suits likely to make their way into their inviting doors – meaning any cool edge they could have accumulated would be depleted. However, we can only hope that with the pandemic having fundamentally altered the paradigm of everything, that it would mean dealmaking members and guests to Ideas Cartel properties, will atleast find a way to ease into its “chill vibe” and embrace a more laidback way of working and playing here.
Value for Money
If I had to quantify the value for money, at this particular property (for the regular hotel guest), you get your money’s worth in the following:
- Ongoing 24/7 warm AND efficient service
- The opportunity to sample some of the finest Cape spirits, when the complimentary Welcome Drinks to hotel guests, are offered
- The unfettered access to comfortable and chic co-working spaces suited to Digital Nomads
- Uncapped and seamless WiFi connection
- The opportunity to network with a singular and quality-laden network of business professionals, depending on when you check-in
- Access to the safe and secured Cartel Fit gym (rigorous hygiene protocols observed)
- A stay inclusive of Breakfast
- Close proximity to the glitzy waterfront shopping and lifestyle hub
- Close proximity to the (now somewhat straggly but persistent) foodie hotspot of Bree Street
…oh, and then comes the Value within your actual hotel suite too:
- Kitchenette complete with necessary and functioning appliances, and quality cutlery
- A beautifully tiled (and water-saving) bathroom setup complete with shower and stand-alone copper bathtub
- Antique leather armrest chairs facing a big-screen television
- And a bedroom, with the modernized cottagecore-like interior design sensibilities (with standardized quality linen and bedroom furnishings).
There’s just something about Ideas Cartel and the varied hospitality offerings they dish out, with the surgical precision of a company with a finger on the pulse of local and international wants & needs – where travel, and indeed business and lifestyle, intersect.
I have absolutely no doubt that I will return to THIS hotel room specifically because The Old Foundry Hotel houses my travel and interior decor kryptonite: a large copper tub.
- A nice bed
- A nice bath
- A nice meal
- A nice drink
- …A nice experience really.
It can be contrived sometimes, at Ideas Cartel, but it’s also fun and not at all off-putting.
It’s as much for Capetonians too, as it is for visitors to the city.