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The Dock House, Exploring Cape Town’s Most Exclusive Boutique Hotel

Cape Town is easily one of the most breathtaking cities in the world. The iconic Table Mountain sets the backdrop for this city rich in culture, history, and in the diversity of its people. It’s most popular destination is the historic V&A Waterfront which is a playground filled with dining and entertainment options for adults and families. It is also home to Cape Town’s most exclusive boutique hotel, The Dock House. 

The V&A Waterfront was once a dilapidated port area and is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world attracting over 24 million people per year with 80 eateries, 450 shops, and countless attractions and entertainment options.  The harbor was built in 1860 and is named after its Prince Alfred and his Mother Queen Victoria who were responsible for its construction. Fast forward to today and it’s still a working dockyard and you’ll see all manner of ships from the tony mega yachts to tug boats and working vessels, 15 story high cruise ships or shiny sailboats moored in the many marinas of the area.

This tourism mecca water is 300 acres full of options for visitors including live entertainment and performances as well as an aquarium, Ferris wheel and numerous historical sites throughout the area.

Literally steps away from the V&A Waterfront lies the Dock House whose construction began a few years after that of the V&A Harbour in 1870 as the residence for Dock Master. It is perfectly restored colonial Victorian heritage manor. Today it is where visiting dignitaries, celebs and the beau monde stay in Cape Town to be close to the Mother City’s most popular destination.

This is an exclusive address with only five rooms with wide porches and one grand suite. The ambiance is elegant and refined with a delicious mix of modern décor with crystal chandeliers, antique silver artifacts, bespoke furnishings and decadent contemporary art pieces that would be well at home in the next issue of Architectural Digest. The color palette is monochrome with earth tones and white with dazzling bronze accents and oversized mirrors throughout.

The guest rooms are posh and comfortable with lovely details such as fresh cut flowers, butler-type services, a complimentary mini bar and all the amenities that one would expect in a five star boutique hotel. The décor is rich with grand mirrors, paintings, and antiques as well as extravagant objects d’art. The suite is made for VIPs with a separate sitting room, expansive bathroom with deep soaking tub, and private courtyard ideal for an evening glass of tea or morning coffee.

The exclusiveness of the Dock House is apparent upon arrival as its intimate size allows for personal and attentive butler-like service from the staff. Mornings begin with a decadent gourmet breakfast offering in the dining room while others will dine in the fresh air of the terrace.  Throughout the day snacks are offered in the library with a wall of snacks from candy, nuts and local treats as well as savory treats during the day.

The grounds of the property have the feeling of a private club with a lovely pool where the hotels’ guests alternate between dips or taking in sun on chaise lounges spread across the manicured grounds of the property.

Cape Town is Africa’s epicurean capital and there are endless options for an unforgettable dining experience. Many guests will stroll to the V&A Waterfront while others will seek a less touristy dining experience and choose to dine like a local. One favorite haunt for local foodies is a short Uber ride away to Manna Epicure. This casual eatery is known for their exquisite French and South African fusion fare sourced from local producers, wonderful local wines and their homemade bread and cakes.

The setting is in a Victorian-era cottage fronted with a long deck of tables for those requiring a bit of morning sunshine with their breakfast. Indoors resembles and elegant tea room with a white on white décor with lovely accent pieces, local artwork, and with a marble fireplace and chandelier made with sticks of white driftwood.

Manna Epicure rose to become a regular feature in Cape Town’s eatery hall of fame due to their crave-worthy breakfast and lunch with such stars as their fried chicken and chili waffles.  Building on that base of repeat guests, Manna Epicure soon found a loyal following for their superb dinner menu. Not to miss dishes are their West Coast mussels cooked in white wine, garlic and onion or the Chateaubriand with triple cooked potato chips,  and red wine jus. This is an intimate restaurant in size so those seeking to dine without reservations do so at their own peril.

There’s plenty to do in the area from all of the attractions of the V&A Waterfront. For some pampering close to home the hotel has a highly regarded destination SPA.  The Sanctuary Spa features a full range of treatments as well as a sauna and full workout facility. For those looking to combine some sightseeing with their workout, complimentary bicycles are available as well.

A great way to take in all that this stunning area has to offer is with a helicopter ride over the area. Helicopters can be seen buzzing about taking curious travelers on a birds-eye view of the awe-inspiring destination. The birds eye-trek follows the coastline of the stunning bays to the iconic landmarks of the stadium along the mountain ranges to see vineyards, the 12 Apostles Mountains, as well as over the cityscapes thus giving one a greater level of appreciated of what this beautiful city has to offer. NAC is a company that has its foundation in the airline charter business and is better known for transporting those coming to and from Cape Town by private jets with a first class and hassle-free travel experience. Their helicopter tours of the Cape Town area are also among the top with first rate and new aircraft and talented pilots happy to share the nuances of this destination.

Sometimes when we travel, one visit is enough after we’ve checked the been-there-done-that box. Cape Town is not one of those places. It’s a destination easy to fall in love with so much character, culture, culinary scene and natural beauty that demand one if not more return visits.  A wonderfully pampering place to stay in the heart of it all is the Dock House at the V&A Waterfront.

WTM Africa 2020