Posted: 21 October 2014
Paul started his trip to South Africa in style, relaxing in Virgin Atlantic’s London Heathrow Clubhouse − and he jokes that you could easily spend a holiday here! From cocktail bars and waiter service throughout, to a games area − where Paul rediscovered his inner child on the retro pac-man machine − and even outdoor seating to enjoy a little air, you'll find that your time before you board your aircraft will fly by.
Paul's first few days in South Africa were spent at Sir Richard Branson's hotel and vineyard, Mont Rochelle, and what struck him most about this delightful contemporary, country house hotel was the spectacular mountain setting and the utter sense of peacefulness. This old classic has been brought bang up to date with a recent refurbishment that included the full renovation of twenty-two rooms and suites that are spread across the Garden House, Manor House and Vineyard Wing, all featuring a light feel and a cosy warmth. If you fancy that extra bit of luxury, Paul says that the two Cap Classique suites in the Vineyard Wing come with a private (unheated) pool. There is also a brand new spa with a Hammam, a gym, a small heated pool and a new fine-dining restaurant named after previous owner, Miko Rwayitare, which offers stunning views as you dine. Paul says that there is a ‘Country Kitchen Deli’ dining experience in the pipeline too, that will offer guests casual dining, both indoors or outdoors picnic-style.
Paul enjoyed a very special wine-tasting experience during his stay, in the comfort of Mont Rochelle, sampling vines produced from the vineyard on-site, but just a gentle stroll downhill is the town of Franschhoek where there are plenty more wine-tasting opportunities, as well as first-class restaurants, speciality delicatessens and quirky shops. From the town, you can also board the Wine Tram, for a tour of some of the wineries − something that’s on Paul’s list for his next visit.
Before leaving South Africa, Paul stayed in Cape Town at One&Only, Cape Town which has stunning views towards Table Mountain from the main building, Marina Rise, where most rooms boast this very vista and have balconies from which to gaze at it. There are all the facilities that you’d expect from such a superior quality city hotel including a swimming pool and spa, snack areas and bars, and two fine dining restaurants, Nobu and Reuben's, so it’s a great place to flop after your day's sightseeing. And, Paul says that one thing that you simply shouldn't miss during your time in Cape Town, is the cable car journey up Table Mountain. Even if you’re scared of heights, he still recommends trying to get your head around giving it a go, simply for the amazing views. As you ascend, the cable car rotates meaning that you see breathtaking scenes from every angle and once you’re at the top there are uninterrupted panoramas over the city and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range − but his top tip is to take something warm to cover up in at the top as the breeze can be rather cold!