Stylish Safe Stay: The Winchester Hotel

The Cape is not a destination lacking in tempting USP’s.

Cape Town, for one, is pretty stocked with some stellar places to rest ones head – from cool inner-city check-ins to classic escapes operating beyond the bustle.

Any visitor to this favoured international tourist city is spoiled for diverse choice.

Often, the hotel decisions made around this breathtaking city, begin with consideration for budget and convenience, but also contemplating whether to get a Mountainview or Seaview.

At my recent elegant stop-in, guests have plenty of suites and rooms to choose from – some even family-friendly, and priced at an opening steal – where one can wake to the majestic Table Mountain or the glittering Atlantic sea.

The Winchester Hotel has put its name in the ring as a contender for one of the finest Cape hotels to check out from this season

…and their first impression is already garnering good attentions.

Settled next to a less memorable structure, this stately 76-roomed hotel forgoes the more imposing demeanour its Manor origins demanded.

Image courtesy of Thee Winchester Hotel (Newmark Hotel)

In its refreshed state, The Winchester Hotel is a sophisticated haunt that marries contemporary and traditionalist sensibilities with a hospitable finish.

As someone not acquainted with its prior iteration as a hotel, nor an apartment block, my first look at the past visuals, together with the present, showed The Winchester Hotel has maintained a decades-long aesthetic conversation with Cape Town and the sophisticated palates of the world (perhaps often tempered by conventionalism).

Everything is composed about The Winchester Hotel – but in so doing, they allow their guests and visitors to be a riot of personality and individualism streaming through their perfectly symmetrical doors – after hand sanitizing and temperature checks, of course.

Reverent palatial peace that’s the salt-tinged atmosphere that eases guests from one light-laden space, into another, at this newly reintroduced alcove by the seaside.

The hotel has a most picturesque streetside terrace facing the seaside promenade, for example, and maintains Cape Dutch architecture, along with having instated a glass and steel portico to frame the entrance. And, there too is a heady cascade of bougainvillea in their courtyard, extensive landscaping having been completed, as well as the installation of a refreshed signature fountain, to add to the stunning and somewhat tranquil aesthetic.

Image courtesy of Carl Holman

The black & white monochromatic theme trails along the entire property, from signage to tiled entryway, hotel suite bathrooms, and the pool area too (see: the gorgeous wide-striped umbrellas and cushy sun loungers), and it becomes very clear from even a glance, that The Winchester Hotel wants to be memorable to the eye, and spirit of stylish travel too.

International travel policies may be a cluster of stress and uncertainty for many, but whoever does make it to the Cape, is in for a treat – whether traipsing into in-house restaurant Shoreditch House for breakfast, a light flavoursome lunch or even for a celebratory drink at Harvey’s Bar, to toast a successful paragliding adventure.

The Winchester has quite a bit going for it, and in keeping with the essentials of what a hotel stay demands too, it does pass muster; Here’s how:

Cleanliness & Hygiene

To start, the hotel employees are prepared and trained for maintaining exceptional hygiene protocols – whether it be bellhop or restaurant side, in the hotel rooms, at reception, or even by the pool.

Personal protective equipment is never removed from the hotel teams person, and each member of the team maintains professional dress and visible hygiene standards to placate travellers wanting that standardized formality.

Clean floors, door handles without fingerprints, and fresh air breezing through to the courtyard, lead to screen guards at the separated check-in desks, that provide that added layer of protection for all.

We’re still in a pandemic and The Winchester Hotel wants to ensure every visitor and guest need not worry about their safety whilst in the embrace of their gorgeous spaces.

Surfaces can regularly be seen to be disinfected – especially those in high-traffic zones. And, a cursory appraisal shows chairs also look clean – which is not something some properties actually pay attention to.

By the time guests are done dousing themselves in antiseptic solutions available from strategically placed dispensers all over the hotel, they’re only halfway through an experience of quality hygiene and cleanliness.

Following a 2 persona max elevator ride, and further evidence of ventilation blowing fresh air in from various sides of the building, housekeeping’s turn to shine where the rooms and suites are concerned, starts.

Hotel rooms and suites show the same level of cleaning care as active public zones in the hotel. A sweep across headboards, countertops, behind toilet fixtures, and under the bed and window frames, reveals no dust or dirt.

Bed linen is not only quality, but also crisp and clean, and a bright white. The pillows reveal no stains or wear, nor do the mattresses, towels, robes, or carpets.

Finally, there’s the bonus tool of a sanitiser wipe hotel guests themselves can use should they have anxiety about one surface or another in their room or suite.

…pretty good, right?!

Hospitality

I was a first-time visitor to the hotel, and I was greeted like an old friend.

I felt singular, cared for, and very welcome.

I also hadn’t even mentioned my name while exiting my Uber, so everyone visiting The Winchester Hotel is given such an honestly decent greeting, and that is a fantastic way to start off ones experience of your establishments’ hospitality.

It’s not just the bellhop’s holding up the fort on good hospitality; Reception was particularly beyond reproach – especially when I made the huge ask of switching rooms so that I could have a room with a bathtub...and then also locked myself out of my suite at one point.

The graciousness and lack of judgement on the part of the team, made my stay feel like the kind of vacation you gush about to friends decades later and over brunch.

The goodwill fostered between the hotel team and visitors is not limited to just those staying overnight. Such is the pleasure of The Winchester Hotel that even daytime drop-ins are afforded the teams knowledge, service, skill, and good humour.

You are welcome at The Winchester Hotel on your days off, but their facilities also allow you to go Pro at the drop of a hat.

Probably one of the things that will keep locals at least coming back, is how much visitors can feel welcome to work in this hotels spaces.

The Constance Room, for example, offers boutique conferencing facilities.

And Harvey’s Bar, Shoreditch House restaurant, Winchester Hotel‘s courtyard, and most particularly, its poolside, is a gem fit for any digital nomad with a fully-charged laptop and a hankering for working on a plush sun lounger while the glittering turquoise waters beckon, and the sea waves crashing along the promenade serenade you.

While I worked in comfort, I really did contemplate making a grab for the monochromatic pool towels reminiscent of hedonistic summers along Europe’s best resort towns. All that was missing was cut crystal tumblers, and the hotel may never have been rid of me.

There’s just something about having signature tableware and barware, that just iconifies an establishment – somewhere in the spirit of Soho House!

Quality of Sleep

I consider quality sleep the kind that is both restful and results in you not actually getting up in the middle of the night.

Subsequently, I’m very partial to The Winchester Hotel‘s noiseless, wide, supportive and responsive mattress, which guests can spread out in.

I enjoyed their plush pillows, which had an almost pressure-relieving cradle, and breathability, to nuzzle against.

And I believe that no adequate accommodation is quite complete without the luxury of a lush duvet that doesn’t overheat you – which the suite I was situated in, had.

So, when I went to sleep and found myself almost having missed breakfast, but rearing to make a day of it, I’d say The Winchester Hotel provides a hell of a quality sleep.

Wining & Dining

A collection of small plates is what you come to The Winchester Hotels “Shoreditch House” for, to start.

The chef in residence (head chef Tim Pick) is not trying to elevate comfort food, or give you overpriced morsels that don’t fill you enough to keep going till the next drink. You’re also unlikely to find the likes of suckling pig with clams, or confit duck poutine, just yet.

Chef Pick and Restaurateur Rory Jossel have paid their dues, and are just currently bringing things back to the basics.

I am a fan of the charcoal grilling methodology the kitchen has adopted for their food.

Argue with me if you will, but incredibly, the absolute marvel of my Shoreditch House visits was the Root vegetable dish.

I’m an absolute carnivore, and I diligently worked my way through the summarily contained Shoreditch House restaurant offerings – particularly those current options laden with meat.

The thinly sliced marinated Ribeye with chimichurri really would satiate any meat-lover on a day out.

And the slow-cooked tender Short Rib tempts (and delivers more than it could ever disappoint) and falls beautifully off the bone – its fragrant richness feeding your senses before the first bite.

However, the coal-burnished Root Vegetables was the dish. It made me stop eating.

With one crunch into fresh seasonal veggies, I was arrested with an overwhelming need to savour what forage-fresh vegetables prepared well & simply, can be.

They too can be a culinary experience. They too can satisfy simply. They too can be the reason to travel across town for.

When I see the current Shoreditch House offerings, they are asking and answering the questions that every chef, cook, and restauranteur should be asking:

  • “What do people like?”
  • “What makes for easy eating?”
  • “What can I make consistently and masterfully?”
  • “What can I teach others?”
  • “How does the dish contribute to the culinary map of the Cape?”

To a palate that’s barely truly travelled across a large part of the world, my meagre global food experience gets a Los Angeles tenor to what was plated for me at The Winchester Hotel – and it’s the commendable bits of LA foodie life too.

The drinks situation though is somewhat in flux.

I look forward to a far more vibrant wine selection, and perhaps a cocktail menu fit to spend an afternoon diligently working your way down in a happy, boozy haze.

By the way: It’s too early to say whether this Shoreditch House food menu will be one to raise the already elevated trendy culinary profile of Cape Town, as well as pinpoint The Winchester Hotel as the penultimate stop-in when in the city.

After all, Chef Pick and Rory are still at it with a gradually expanding menu in development.

However, it’s a menu that, so far, makes an impression enough to have locals stepping beyond their safety net eateries, and out-of-towners even coming back a second night to continue their menu adventure in good company.

Value for Money

If I had to quantify value for money in 2021s travel economy, and at this particular property, you get your money’s worth in the following:

  • The price of a nights stay in a refurbished luxury seaside hotel in an idyllic Cape Town neighbourhood, being between R2 360 – R3 950 depending on a room
  • A stay inclusive of Breakfast
  • Excellent hygiene protocols in line with global heath and tourism-board standards
  • Access to a Mini-Bar Fridge and Tea/Coffee-making facilities (I recommend making yourself a cuppa with the Bootleggers coffee pods that work with the inroom Nespresso machine)
  • Uncapped and seamless WiFi connection
  • Satelite TV
  • A beautifully tiled bathroom redone by SOURCE Interior Architecture, complete with burnished golden-hued shower and stand-alone bathtub metal finishings
  • Plush armrest chairs facing a big-screen television, and in a spacious lounge area with light streaming in from the loft window.
  • Ongoing 24/7 warm & efficient service
  • The unfettered access to a comfortable, exclusive, and chic poolside 
  • Complimentary by-the-hour, on the hour transfer to the V&A Waterfront mall (upon request)
  • Close proximity to the glitzy waterfront shopping and lifestyle hub
  • Close proximity to the (now somewhat straggly but persistent) foodie hotspot of Bree Street
  • Close proximity to the Sea Point Promenade for walks, people-watching, and adventure or fitness exploits.

Verdict

I’m very keen to see how the upcoming wellness Spa and its offerings, get realized, for one.

And, I’ve been hearing excited extolling about the possible return of the famed Jazz Brunches, from those previously acquainted with the hotel.

I’ll not forget The Winchester Hotel quick.

And I doubt whether any who hear about the hotel, visit it, or even pass by, will forget it soon too.

With blended decor styles perfectly in symmetry with the hotel’s history, the indulgent cosmopolitan city and the scenic promenade, The Winchester Hotel has made its stand.

It looks good. Its food tastes even better.

You sleep well.

Your travels are grander.

So far, I think they’re worth your time.

The Winchester Hotel

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