My eyes didn’t know where to look. Carpets of shrubs and brightly coloured flowers occupied my field of vision, a scene made multi-dimensional by the delicate citrusy scent of lemon and orange trees filling my nostrils. The gate my wife and I were warmly welcomed through had only served to make us feel as if we had stumbled upon a beautiful secret garden. This couldn’t possibly be the city hotel we’d booked for three nights in Cape Town, could it? But it was.
This is Kensington Place, one of the city’s original boutiques but still a secret to so many, tucked away in the leafy suburb of Higgovale. Its location is one of the best in Cape Town, nestled in the foothills of the iconic Table Mountain and sat at the top of Kloof Street, one of the city’s most vibrant addresses. Even though you feel a world away from the Cape Town buzz, blissfully might I add, you’re only a 10-minute taxi from the golden sands of Camps Bay or the V&A Waterfront in either direction. A hiking trail is never far away, either. The focus is firmly on relaxation (our pulses slowed the moment we stepped through the gate), but it caters well for the urbanites among us, too.
After standing momentarily in awe of the glorious garden, we were whisked inside. The textured walls, oak floor and comfy armchairs had the feel of a luxury living room, rather than a hotel lobby. That’s how Kensington Place feels throughout: intimate, homely and a bolthole we felt utterly at ease right from the off. The staff were more like friends, actively interested in what our plans were during our stay and throwing tips our way that we felt only locals would know. Our room was filled with calming decor, dominated by soothing steel greys, wonderful whites and oozing comfort. We were lucky enough to be on the top floor and our balcony rewarded us with stunning views over the lilac-blushed jacaranda trees which line the suburban streets, and the centre of Cape Town in the distance, beautifully scented by the orange and lemon trees in the garden beneath. However, as much as Kensington Place felt like a cocoon that was irresistible to leave, owner Chris Weir and his team know their guests will be busy exploring the history, culture and adventure Cape Town has to offer. The cleverly designed breakfast menu is split into ‘quick eats’ and ‘lazy mornings’ to accommodate every type of daily itinerary, whether it’s a leisurely start or more of a grab ‘n’ go. The warm oats I had from the ‘quick eats’ was very tasty and the ideal fuel for climbing Table Mountain. The following morning we weren’t required to be up quite so early, so I had the time to enjoy a delicious eggs Benedict.
The personal touch
However, the thing that struck my wife and I the most during our stay was the personal service and never-ending desire to help and surprise. I can give countless examples of this, even though we only stayed for three nights. We visited in June, which is during Cape Town’s winter, so while we enjoyed sunny and warm days, the temperature dropped significantly after nightfall. So, when we returned from our evening meal, we were thrilled to be greeted with a hot water bottle each in our room. Even right from the very beginning of our stay, their quick-thinking and helpful manner delighted us. We only had 45 minutes between arriving at the hotel and our first activity in the city, a guided tour of the colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, to get settled in our room, get changed and meet our guide. As we rushed around, the staff organised an Uber for us and when we came downstairs, it was ready and waiting for us. Another evening, we arrived back completely exhausted after climbing Table Mountain via the India Venster route and didn’t have the energy to think about booking somewhere to eat that evening. While we were refreshing ourselves in our room, the gentleman on the front desk booked a table for us at a restaurant we had mentioned we really wanted to try a couple of days earlier. It was this kind of attention to detail that really wowed us at Kensington Place. It sounds corny but we really did feel like we were part of a family during our stay.
Cape Town family
Besides the guests that arrive through its doors, Kensington Place has always been well aware it’s part of a city-wide family. This statement couldn’t be truer during the Covid-19 pandemic, where those living in townships are suffering the most. The boutique hotel has backed several nationwide feeding schemes to support the underprivileged, as well as opening up its own kitchen to prepare and provide meals to those most in need. A band of volunteers have stirred, peeled, roasted, cooked and packed healthy and nutritious meals, delivering (at the time of writing) over 2,000 meals to the Hanover Park and Langa neighbourhoods of Cape Town. Beyond this, it’s seeking further ways in which it can support its fellow citizens until both the city and hotel can open its doors once again.
This is just one example of the kind of family-orientated attitude that embodies Kensington Place. Right from the glorious garden you first step into, it’s a serene space filled with kind-hearted people and it’s their intuitive and warm nature you will fall in love with the most. I know we certainly did.
To be in with a chance of winning a two-night stay for two at Kensington Place, head to our Instagram page for more information. Good luck!