It takes a special kind of place to remind us of what it is to be disarmed in our judgement, slightly debonair in our stride, and somewhat dissident with conformity. A place that has the ability to reintroduce ourselves to ourselves and our long-forgotten ways of a frolic, a flirt and a fancy with beautiful things. A place that – as finely tailored and superbly stitched together as it is – still has the ability to let itself a little loose around the edges; urging others to do the same. When we do stumble across such a rare place and settle into its utopian existence, it becomes an old acquaintance who we’ve missed dearly and are more than ready to reconnect with.
Occupying land like a grand Provençal last century dame, settled into the slopes of Signal Hill, overlooking the ocean, the city, its harbour, the mountain and the mountains beyond that, Dorp Hotel furtively escorts you to a land far, far away, on African soil. The living quarters hold centre stage to clusters of intertwining family suites and garden cottages, private pools and roof terraces. Capacious rooms with shady stoeps and steam rooms, and dainty studios with back yards and old benches beneath almond blossoms. Rugged gravel pathways meander a wild bedded oasis of ancient olive trees, overgrown grasses, lemon, fig, guava and verbena trees, potted succulents and creeping tomato vines. There’s even a Virgin Bloody Mary station on the spectacular roof terrace that juices up a hearty Sunday brunch tipple to accompany that view – a view that shall be deemed the greatest the city has to offer.
At the helm of this hideaway – if we can consider but one – a lively kitchen meets a long patio with outdoor dining space adjacent a little boutique for an extra dollop of Provençal lavender. Dishes of a culinary equivalence to cashmere are served in the tropical wonderland of a dining, reclining and entertaining space that’s held together with foliage, light and a familiar affection. Tall French doors, high ceiling fans, antique cabinetry, curious collectables, wood-burning stoves, bridge tables and tea stations, age-old portraiture, books and more books. Old maps that map the places we’ve been or still yearn to go. A pool table, a grand piano and an eternal helping of the most wonderful staff you’re likely to encounter all beat to the same drum and flow in harmony with a music library that’s shuffling its way around nostalgia. Leonard Cohen’s dancing with Ali Farka Touré’s African blues as Nina Simone earnestly paves the way for Miriam Makeba. We’ll be here till the lights dim themselves, if for the music only.
It’s as if you’re back at that table with that old acquaintance once again. Reminding you about all of your finer traits, just as they reveal theirs. Much like a country club, yet less of the country and more of the gritty city with sincerity. It’s become your village, your Dorp, your club. With a little help from the people you meet and the ones that share this rather special place with you. You’re back to your good old self. And it takes a very special kind of place to harness that.
What we love…
- If we were to spend a lifetime at Dorp Hotel, we’d find it hard to complete its overwhelming literature collection that’s propped up beside beds, on shelves, in libraries and all kinds of nooks and crannies. From ancient architecture to everyday etiquette. The complete works of Leonardo da Vinci to ‘So eat, my darling’ cookbooks. Comics to Politics. Nature to Rhymes and Riddles.
- After a meal around the table, or upstairs on the terrace or outside on the patio, it’s lovely to take your (last) tipple onto the front stoep, overlooking the lights of the harbour, the city and all the way out to the ships at sea, and enjoy the night’s sky. You do not know the light of Cape Town without its city night.
- Spending an hour or two in the garden, on a bench, beneath the branches of old trees, listening to the breeze and pacifying sounds of the hill behind, with one of those books from your very own library.
- After a long bath or an invigorating shower, there’s something to be said about stepping onto a warm bathroom floor that’s courteously been heated for extra foot pleasure.
- It’s the message in the soaps and the creams, the homemade cookies and snack jar, the milk and boobottles, the notice boards and goodie boxes, that all come with a lot of Dorp love.
- The linen. The colours, the textures, the quality and the support of all things local.
- It has to be said again, the people of Dorp Hotel are the essence to its enigma. Every member of staff make you feel part of the beautiful furniture – in a very nurturing way.
What you need to know!
- Dorp Hotel does not operate under a liquor licence so you are at liberty to bring your own tipple of choice and additional mixers should you need. There are a few private and open use bar stations with fresh water and lemon, tonic water, ice and olives.
- Beautifully packaged breakfasts are delivered to your room – or wherever you choose – each morning with hot croissants, freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade preserves and delicious honey, muesli and yoghurt and stewed fruit.
- Regret no children under 10 years of age.
- No doggies, sorry.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie