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Friday, 28 October 2011

Urban Luxury - The Westcliff

Think Africa is all safari, grime and danger? A stay at The Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg will have you reassessing your opinion.

What makes a hotel luxurious? Could it be their billowy thousand-thread-count sheets or their legendary Sunday brunch? Their highly intuitive staff or their dramatic, million-dollar views? Perched high above the endless forested canopy of Jo’burg, The Westcliff Hotel has all of this and more.
To let the guests know that they’ve truly arrived, three magical words from the receptionist put things into perspective: “You’ve been upgraded.” Fantastic. The porter and I make our way up the steep winding lane, past lovely gardens and pretty pink villas, to my sanctuary for the next two nights. “There’s where you’ll be staying, right there.”
Can ballrooms get any grander?

We come to a halt in front of a cluster of villas huddled around a courtyard. Since no two rooms in The Westcliff are the same, I shuffle to my junior suite and fling the door open expectantly. I am immediately impressed. My extravagantly-sized bedroom may be Victorian in design but there are little touches of modern-day luxury everywhere. From the free wi-fi to the satellite television that pops up upon command to the soundproofed windows and heavy drapes to the cosy sitting nook in the corner, the management has thought of everything.

However, the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the palatial marble bathroom. Big enough to live in, it boasts an enormous sliding wardrobe, dual sinks, shower stall, heated towel racks, a tub (with bath salts) and toiletries from Africology, South Africa’s numero uno skincare line. Something tells me I shall be spending an awful lot of time in here.


The Westcliff’s restaurants and its infinity pool overlook some of the finest vistas in the city. The hotel’s cascading garden is also stunning. It is said that horticultural enthusiasts may, on a stroll from one villa to another, spot a number of unique floral species within the property. That evening, I head to La Belle Terrasse, the hotel’s restaurant, where the service is impeccable and the setting fabulous.
Sipping my rooibos tea, I spot someone who looks vaguely familiar across from me. Could it be a makeup-less Felicity Huffman, fresh off season eight of Desperate Housewives? And is that handsome young man her son?  “Yes, we do get a lot of celebrities but a lot of them usually want to be treated like normal people,” says general manager, Andrew Cook, who has joined me for a quick chat.

In a sense, there is no better place in South Africa to go unrecognised or be yourself. The hotel is blissfully quiet, and even the businessmen (and women) possess the graciousness to discuss money and mergers in hushed tones. Sooner or later, every visitor to this hotel will be buoyed by this sensation of calm and restfulness, making the place a terrific respite from downtown Johannesburg.

As the sun sinks below the horizon, the stately homes below me light up like a million shimmering oil lamps, outsparkling the star-filled heavens. Now this, to me, is luxury.

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Full article at The Star Online

67, Jan Smuts Avenue
Westcliff, Johannesburg
2193, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 481 6074/6045