I had 24 hours in Cape Town: a rather flying trip, certainly, but thanks to a few vital ingredients, it was more than enough time for a chic whirlwind tour of style and culture.
After a rather luxurious SAA flight – in part thanks to chef Benny Masekwameng’s sumptuous business-class cuisine; when did in-flight food get so good? – I arrived from London raring to go, a refreshing change after most long-haul journeys. My base was the Taj Hotel, the old Reserve Bank Building designed by renowned South African architect James Morris, inspired by Florence’s Palazzo Pitti. Plush without being chintzy (just the right amount of froufrou), central and chic, it proved the perfect pied-à-terre for a cultural visit.
No time for daydreaming over the hotel’s views of Table Mountain (second picture), I hopped in a 1967 MG hired from Motor Classic Rentals for a whizz round the town and its environs. Who wants state-of-the art cool when you can have retro chic?
The wind in my hair, the sun on my face, we zipped, top down, to the Woodstock Exchange: a recently opened “incubator for young fledgling businesses” developed by the team responsible for the bustling hive of activity that is the Old Biscuit Mill market. Here, a spot of brunch – the most delicious toasted banana bread – at the ultra-hip, white-tiled, Scandi-in-feel Superette café and deli (first picture) was followed by flexing my shopping muscles. The freshest names in South African design, including interior furnishings by Dark Horse, wrestled for my attention at Kingdom, an experience perfectly paired with a foray to the nearby decoration mecca Abode. I left with a very stylish clutch bag hand-embroidered by local craftspeople and a paper jewellery bowl, also handmade locally – by artisans working for Wola Nani, a charity helping people living with HIV and Aids.
Credit card exercised (and helping a good cause, too), I threw my bags in the back of our hot red MG and headed out into the countryside to Steenberg Vineyards for a wander round the modern-art filled gardens, a glass of smoky, earthy Pinotage in hand. After city adventuring, it felt like a glorious escape, but was only an hour away.
Driving back to Cape Town along winding coastal roads carved straight out of the rock, the last stop of the day was the Camps Bay home of bed-linen designer Debbie Hall for a gargantuan homemade dinner of fresh scallops, garden vegetables and the most fabulous cheesecake. She hosts weekly salon-style parties at her beautiful home every Wednesday, where she introduces local press, entrepreneurs and creative types while regaling guests with Cape Town anecdotes. Warning: you may never want to leave.
The next morning was dedicated to the Design Indaba conference (an inspiring reason for my trip), to get acquainted with South African design in advance of Cape Town being crowned World Design Capital in 2014, before scooting to Johannesburg. No rest for the wicked?