Rising like an elegant colonial Grand Dame The Cullinan has such distinctive architecture you can spot it from almost anywhere in Cape Town. Yet, despite its classical veneer, it is a relatively new build and without a doubt the signature property of South African hospitality group Tsogo Sun.
The Cullinan has long been the go-to hotel for major sports teams when they are in Cape Town and this week was no exception. The lobby was positively brimming with activity when I arrived.
Clearly, I looked a lost soul, as a guest relations person took me under her wing. “Bit busy today, we have all the bikers here for the MTB Challenge staying here.”
That explained all the lycra.
“We also have the Australian cricket team here and various African nations for the football. Let me grab you a coffee and I’ll get your room key for you.”
Now that was what I called service.
Up on the 11th floor, my room was an oasis of calm. An executive room with a wonderful view of Cape Town’s legendary Waterfront just a few minutes’ walk away to one side, and the downtown delights of the city centre the other. The king bed dominated one end whilst a comfy settee was the pick of the classic furniture. With the water crisis in Cape Town, the deep bath was relegated to bathroom decoration only, but the power shower more than made up for it.
Back downstairs the outdoor pool deck was strangely quiet. It reminded me of a lavish LA poolside; towering white columns, palm trees and plenty of sunbeds. A touch of resort luxury unusual for a city centre hotel.
My favourite guest relations person materialised once more. “Mr Mossack. Everything alright with your room? ”
You know, I am such a sucker for the personal touch.
After a stroll around the Waterfront I returned to my room for an espresso and found a large box sitting on my bed. If this was a fashion item, I thought, it would be taking guest relations to a whole new level.
Sadly, it was no designer label attire but my mask and feathers for the Cape Town carnival the next night. An event the hotel has sponsored for many years and I had a VIP invitation. Perhaps not globally recognised, the carnival is a big deal for Cape Towners. Particularly the township locals who enjoyed free transportation there and back. It is an opportunity for people of all cultural backgrounds to have a good time together. Another small step forward perhaps towards making South Africa a true rainbow nation.
That night I walked over to the nearby Shortmarket Club for an epic dinner. One of Cape Town’s remarkable clutch of excellent new restaurants.
Next morning, the hotel’s Peach Tree Restaurant breakfast buffet was doing good business. The bikers were busy taking on as many carbs as they could muster before hitting the road. It was a highly impressive buffet with many welcome additions to the usual breakfast fare; a tangy fresh pesto, hummus and stuffed peppers and a giant wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano for example. A peeled and sliced avocado was delivered to my table just moments after requesting it.
Southern Sun The Cullinan is an excellent example of a top city hotel. It is far enough away from the Waterfront to escape the daily tide of tourists, yet close enough to wander in when you want to. With the familiar city tour hop on hop off bus stop practically opposite, it’s also perfectly positioned to visit Cape Town’s city centre.
Full marks too to the guest relations team, who managed to keep calm and professional despite the legions of lobby lycra and mountain bikes!
Tell me more about Southern Sun The Cullinan
Southern Sun The Cullinan, 1 Cullinan St, Cape Town Waterfront,
Cape Town, 8001 South Africa.
Tel: +27 21 415 4000
Standard rooms from £200 Executive rooms from £350 excluding breakfast. Special offers are available online.
Getting to Cape Town
British Airways flies a daily direct service to Cape Town from London Heathrow.
Parking at London Heathrow
One week’s Meet and Greet airport parking at London Heathrow with Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) costs from only £90.50. To book visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859536.