One of the perks of working in media is getting to review cool things and this includes hotels. As I work for a number of platforms, I’ve actually gotten to visit quite a few of them and they’re not always awesome. The yardstick for semi-dreadful, however, is a spot we shall call Hotel Blah where my friend Karisa and I literally got put in a room and left there. ‘We have all these amazing services including a very expensive, specially drawn bath that includes champagne for you can tell people about’, they said. Thing is, they didn’t allow us to experience any of it, so needless to say I never wrote about it. Also, despite being linked to a fancy pants restaurant, conveniently situated below the hotel, we weren’t invited to dine there. But there was a Mr Delivery menu in our room. Very blah indeed.
Anyway, The Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel in the centre of Cape Town, in case you were wondering isn’t blah at all. It’s fantastic! And a lot of this is due to their wonderful staff and the good communication between them. I was invited to visit the hotel, which is part of the Tsogo Sun group, for a spoilicious blogger sleepover along with Karisa, Brigitte and Sheri-Lee and boy did they roll out the red carpet for us.
Their hospitality went above and beyond and every person we came into contact with was friendly and helpful – even those who didn’t know we were there for review. For the most part, however, the people who did need to know why we were taking piccies like Japanese tourists and asking questions were all briefed to the fact that we were bloggers. This sounds a bit dof, but you have no idea how often I arrive at hotels and people can’t find my reservation and hand me bills for things a PR has promised was comped and then its a big struggle to find someone who can attest to the fact that I’m actually there for a review and not a merry scam artist. The Cullinan, however, is a well-oiled machine.
After checking in with ease, the hotel’s lovely Guest Relations Manager Hannes led myself and Brigitte to our suites (yep, we each got our own) where I acted all cool and nonchalant about its enormity and then jumped on the super soft, giant marshmallow of a bed when he left, elated that it was almost double the size of my (studio) flat.
Staying in a suite also means a complimentary bath and pillow menu as well as a butler service. Anyone up for a Rooibos mineral bath crystals with rose petals and Swedish memory neck pillow combo?
Aside from a very sexy marble bathroom, it included a lounge and mini bar area that boasted a welcome bottle of wine, selection of treats and handwritten welcome note. (Nice touch, guys!)
Hannes then showed us to yet another suite where – surprise! – a host of the hotel’s lovely Mangwanani therapists had set up an indulgent high tea and pop-up salon to treat us to manis and pedis. (The hotel’s recently renovated it’s spa which is now a ‘Mangwanani Boutique’ one. You can read all about that over here.)
Because I’m inherently evil, I immediately What’s Apped Karisa who was running late.
Me: Just a heads up – it’s totes another Hotel Blah.
K: Ag nee!
Me: Ja. Sorry man. Maybe bring a banana or something.
The look on her face when she walked in was totally worth any timeshare points I scored in hell.
Anyway, let’s get back to the impromptu spa o’ awesome: My therapist, Antoinette, gave me a Morgan Taylor mani using Man of the Moment, a glossy maraschino cherry red, and then, as I had gelish on my toes, treated me to an epic foot massage.
I loved that her hands were super strong and she didn’t get tired of applying lots of pressure, which I like. All this went down while sipping bubbles and nibbling on an array of sweet treats and my beloved Downtown Abbey-licious egg and mayo finger sandwiches that Brigitte labeled gross and then proceeded to eat two of. Biets!
After our spa experience, we all floated through the very expensive-smelling lobby (What are you pumping into the air there, The Cullinan? It’s awesome!) to make our way to the pool for a drink.
The pool’s communal, oh so colonial spa bath atmosphere serves up such a tranquil-feeling you’d never think you were smack bang in the heart of the city. It was here that we met charming Senior Sous Chef Riaan Le Roux who offered to bring us ‘a few mezze’ and a ‘bespoke cocktail’ (ooh la la!).
I’m not one hundred percent sure what was in the cocktail but it had a yummy ginger-amaretto taste, was created especially for us and referred to as a ‘Candy Ginger’. Sooo delish! And speaking of, we nearly died (from awesome) when we saw the mezze. It turned out to be a smorgasbord that included beautifully presented super fresh sushi and oysters (my favourite, reeeee!) as well as a charcuterie and cheese platter with dips. One of the best things about that experience was the fact that Sheri and Karisa don’t eat oysters. Yes! Air punch! (And another punch to Brigitte’s face if she attempts to eat more of them than I do.)
Having almost completely ruined our dinner we hit up The Peach Tree restaurant that plays host to a big buffet every night as well as for Sunday lunch. I don’t have a lot of piccies of this as I hate taking food shots at night. The rubbish lighting never does the dishes any justice and flash food photography’s The Worst. But know there was loads to choose from and even the fussiest eater would never go hungry. Also, and this is random, but I really liked that each table’s set with three different type of butter balls!
Despite being a bit stuffed, I managed to squeeze in some cut-it-with-a-butter-knife lamb and mint jelly; a DIY spinach leaf salad loaded with blue cheese, croutons and marinated mushrooms and a very tasty, decadently creamy potato bake. Oh! And let’s not forget about dessert! Whatever you want is there for the scoffing and the toppings could easily rival a Wakaberry. Mini Smarties and Astros for the win!
Once our tummies were full, we rolled like happy, mini vetkoeks back into the Star Bar where we made a good show of completely ignoring the Brumbies rugby boys that happened to be staying at the hotel, ensuring they asked us to join them for drinks. Our little party got a little, er rowdy, pretty fast (sorry The Cullinan, we love you The Cullinan!) and myself, the girls and a good twelve or so Brumbies (who are all just too lovely) ended up taking our jol to Karisa’s room. We took great, hair-flicky delight in the fact that our rooms where sooo much nicer than the boys’, their size attesting to the fact that we could literally host half a rugby team.
Things devolved fast but my flash backs include Sheri saying things like ‘a “try” is a rugby term, right? Or is that a cricket thing?’; a strip tease and lap dance combo to the tune of Bette Davis eyes (performed by the boys, not us!) and Henry, the winger, ordering something that came with chips (room service is 24 hours) that tasted like the best version of KFC’s which probably won’t sound like a compliment to the chef but for me this is Very High Acclaim.
In all, this was a wonderful stay in a wonderful hotel run by wonderfully hospitable people. No Hotel Blah here. No sirree!
If you’d like check in, visit The Southern Sun Cullinan’s webpage for all the deets you’ll need. Stay over or not, the Mangwanani Boutique Spa is a gem of a destination alone and it’s worth checking out their treatment menu just so you can marvel at how pocket-friendly their price list is. (A 60 minute hot stone massage for R450? Yes please! An hour long spa pedi with a foot massage for R350? Bring it!) If you’d like to organise a custom special event like a hen’s tea and want a similar high tea and spa spoil package get in touch with Hannes directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. As for The Peach Tree, consider popping in for their Sunday buffet. It’s just R195 per person (half price for kids under 12) and you can expect an array of yumminess that includes roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, decadent desserts and more.