With thanks to Adventure World for this tailor-made holiday.The Twelve Apostles hotel is above the sea just around the headland from Cape Town's CBD and is a Red Carnation hotel, which means that as well as being 5 star-luxurious, the décor is opulent and individual. The public areas are carpeted in bright stripes, the wall-coverings are fabric, the artwork is unconventional, every whim is catered to in the rooms and there are nice touches like a hot-water bottle on the bed, and bottles of champagne everywhere.
Including on the breakfast buffet, which is rare, along with a dish of oysters in their shells, which I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered before. Call me a wuss, but that’s a bit confronting for breakfast – and besides, they had Bircher muesli (never the same anywhere, but this was a good one), so there was no competition. The hotel is along the coast a bit from the city, tucked up against the bush-clad mountain looking over the sea where sea lions lounge on rounded rocks. We had no time to investigate its spa, or pools, or even its private cinema; and sadly not its views, hidden anyway by rain and low cloud, because we were moving on to Bushman’s Kloof, a reserve and wellness retreat three hours away to the north-west.
Well, it was meant to be a three-hour drive. But that was before we found the N7 mysteriously closed off and traffic backed up for miles, adding several hours to the journey. Sigh.
But we got there eventually, after passing through the spectacular Cederberg Mountains, all stained orange sandstone stacked precariously and streaked with black. Bushman’s Kloof is a wilderness and wellness retreat, heavy on the spa and, as another Red Carnation property, eager to please and cosset. The slogan is, ‘No request too large, no detail too small’, and whenever you leave your room they’re in there laying out robes, lighting a scented candle, folding the towels and, always, folding the loo paper to a point.
It’s a former farm, and the buildings are mostly low, whitewashed and thatched, set in immaculate gardens and surrounded by more striking rock formations. Inside it’s all dim and squashy, arty and comfortable; outside, as a game reserve, it’s a bit tame with mainly antelope, zebra and birds. No big predators (apparently the Cape leopards they do have here are too small and shy to count). But, after a most delicious high tea, we climbed into the open Landy and went bumping along the sandy tracks anyway, and were quite diverted. The Cape mountain zebra were my favourite, so much more elaborately striped than the common-or-garden Burchell’s variety.
The wind was too cold for the traditional sundowner outside – it went down much better back at the lodge beside the roaring log fire. Dinner was dimly lit and delicious, and the night was soft and silent.