Staring out of the floor-to-ceiling glass windows of my extraordinary Black and White room at MannaBay I was having a moment. Not quite an epiphany you understand, but mighty close to one.
Cape Town and Table Bay, far below me, stretched languidly toward the Atlantic, while I seemingly hovered in mid-air like an eagle catching a breeze. But there was more. A side door took me to a small balcony, and now I was gazing up at the mighty Table Mountain almost within touching distance.
Welcome to MannaBay. A quite remarkable boutique hotel literally on the slopes of the Table Mountain National Park. It’s so close the fence actually borders the property. It’s just a few minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, yet it feels light years away. The Oranjezicht district is a high-end suburb that winds its way up the slopes of Table Mountain and from the road, there is no hint of the drama that awaits. Tucked discreetly away on the topmost street behind a sliding gate reveals MannaBay, a former residential home now converted into a luxury boutique hotel.
There was an evident stamp of contemporary class from the moment I walked in. Sumptuous interiors, no doubt from the hand and mind of a very talented designer, held hands with eclectic works of African art everywhere I looked. The outside terraced garden space provided even more remarkable designer touches; a koi pond, a fire pit, a hanging chair, a rooftop bar, a pool and even a small well stocked gym and steam room.
General Manager Stretton Barry, a veteran of luxury hospitality from a previous life managing a Seychelles private island was quick to highlight Mannabay’s guest benefits. “You must join us for our complimentary afternoon high tea. All the sweet and savoury treats are baked and prepared here by our in-house chefs. You can also enjoy beverages and local wines on us at any time.”
There are just eight rooms here, each one a work of art in itself. From my stunning Black and White room (complete with zebra hide prints, white orchids, themed furniture and a chess board rug) to the regal-like splendour of the Versailles suite with its generous balcony and outdoor four-poster day bed. All the rooms have king beds, walk-in showers, under floor heating and flat-screen TVs with a full media centre controlled by your very own Apple tablet. I particularly loved the little touches; the Country Road beach bag and towels and the books and board games. There’s even a local mobile phone and in-car sat nav to use for the duration of your stay if need them.
There’s a rumour there are over 3,000 books on the property and with so much seclusion and privacy available, it is quite possible you could make a considerable dent in that figure. There are more than few books on African wildlife and safaris, not surprising really as owner David Ryan founded the Rhino Africa travel company.
The exclusive position of MannaBay means it is not easily walkable to anywhere (perhaps down to a nearby restaurant but the walk back up would be a challenge) so there are free transfers to any dinner reservations made by the hotel team.
As requested, I made it to the high tea and I’m delighted to report it didn’t disappoint on any level. A banquet fit for royalty. The baked treats delicious. The large bottles of Graham Beck Brut rose and Methodé Cap Classique were not too shabby either.
After dark, the twinkling lights of Cape Town provided the perfect backdrop for a nightcap on one of MannaBay’s outdoor terraces. The 24-hour butler service saw to that.
The next morning’s breakfast proved to be another culinary journey amid yet another remarkable room of floor to ceiling glass. A lavish cold buffet of local produce was supplemented by freshly prepared hot dishes from the chefs in the open plan kitchen.
There is no question MannaBay is a very special place. The seclusion, the intimacy, the jaw-dropping views, the personal service and luxury living all offer an alluring alternative to Cape Town’s international luxury hotels.
You never know, perhaps, you might even experience your own MannaBay moment.
Tell me more about MannaBay Boutique Hotel
MannaBay 8 Bridle Road, Oranjezicht, 8001
Cape Town, South Africa
T: + 27 21 461 1094
Rooms from ZAR 5,250 (£313) includes breakfast, high tea, beverages and local wines.
Getting to Cape Town
Parking at London Heathrow