Cape Town's exclusive luxury resort - The One & Only
This sprawling urban paradise is set against the majestic backdrop of Table Mountain, right in the heart of the Mother City's fashionable V&A Waterfront. Opened in late 2009, the One & Only is unique for being the sole resort-style hotel in Cape Town. Its convenient location is within walking distance of many popular attractions, like the historical city centre, Green Point stadium and the trendy new Silos district.
Apart from the imposing main building, the resort also has two tropical 'islands' situated in a private marina, surrounded by some of the most expensive condos on the continent. In terms of accessibility, travelers really can't ask for much more - thankfully, whilst the property is nearby all the touristy action, it maintains a rare quietness that is often amiss in city hotels.
Despite its grandiose size, the sandy edifice accommodates surprisingly less guests than you'd imagine - that said, I wouldn't exactly describe the experience as intimate. A total of 131 rooms and suites (all with large balconies or terraces) are divided among 10 categories. Entry level Marina rooms start at a very spacious 63 m² (some of the largest in town), and the lavish Penthouse suite brags a whopping 383 m² of refined surroundings. I recommend booking one of the elegant island suites, as these offer tranquil seclusion and easy access to the pool and spa areas.
The calming interior design features a distinctly contemporary ambience with vibrant African influences visible in the dark finishes, rich colours and contrasting textures. Like any good 5-star hotel, a comprehensive pillow menu is available as well as special complimentary Charlotte Rhys bathtime amenities. Also worth mentioning is the extensive volume of closet space, which is a bonus for couples sharing or for those who don’t travel light.
Needless to say, the One & Only presides over several on-site restaurants. It is home to Africa's first (and only) Nobu - the famed Japanese franchise synonymous with culinary excellence, avant-garde style, glamorous patrons and prime locations around the globe. One of the city's most notorious breakfast spreads is served at Reuben's, the hotel's lofty signature eatery where diners can also indulge, day or night, in speciality dishes and an impressivce selection of local wines.
Afternoon tea, an unashamed indulgence of the Capetonian bourgeois, is served in the expansive lobby at Vista bar & lounge, where the magnificent mountain is glamorously framed by an enormous glass paneled wall. In the evening the snazzy bar, with its gleaming bespoke chandelier hovering overhead, is frequented by classy international clientele for an aperitif or light snack.
In comparing Cape Town's best hotel swimming pools, the O&O's undeniably claims a spot in the top 5. Nestled on a private island surrounded by waterways and flanked by luxuriant greenery, it intermittently doubles as a bathhouse for the many urbanized seagulls that loiter around the harbour and waterfront. Breezy curtained cabanas and the guests-only Mediterranean eatery, Isola, complete the relaxing private poolside retreat.
Concealed on an adjacent islet, the spectacular spa, featuring state-of-the-art facilities and authentic treatments, continues to uphold its inaugural ambitions as the most luxurious and comprehensive wellness centre around. Oddly, the fitness centre is located in the main building, and if you're staying on the ‘island’ it involves trekking through the lobby to workout. Not entirely ideal.
Having checked in here several times over the last 8 years, I've detected the slightest inconsistencies in service levels. For instance, while expertise at Nobu remain top grade, attentiveness at the other F&B outlets are less so. Noticeably, housekeeping is doing an immaculate job in keeping the entire place spotless, and as some communal areas have undergone a soft-refurb, I am hoping that the guest rooms will follow suit... Overall, the staff are amicable and helpful, however I noticed an absence of anticipative hospitality you'd expect from the O&O group.
Due to its highly desirable position and prestigious brand association, the One & Only Cape Town continues to be a relevant contender amid fierce competition in the region's luxury hospitality segment. With several new 5-star hotel openings in recent years and a growing tourism sector, visitors to the city have more accommodation options than ever before. In future, I hope to see reputation and value, instead of merely a name, become the main driving forces that lure guests back to this once mind-blowing establishment.
* I stayed at the hotel as a mystery guest on my own account
All photos and opinions are my own © Traverate 2017