Of the myriad possibilities living in Cape Town can bring, little can compare to enjoying a night in one of the city’s most fortuitously located hotels. Getting to spend a weekend at The Marly boutique hotel is unequivocally an experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to get better acquainted with the best of what the Atlantic Seaboard has to offer.
Set in the heart of Camps Bay, right above the famous palm-fringed strip known as Victoria Road, The Marly caters to those for whom efficiency, privacy and luxury need to come standard with a hotel stay. Offering only eleven suites – each with full bathroom, balcony and view of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Twelve Apostles – the hotel retains its exclusivity through small touches, the limited rooms allowing for each and every guest to feel welcomed and taken care of. We were fortunate enough to have a sea-facing suite and I was particularly enamoured with the uninterrupted views out across Camps Bay beach and beyond. Slick and stylish, the interiors at The Marly appealed to my minimalist aesthetic, with our suite having been tastefully decorated in soft neutrals, textural elements and contemporary touches like the marble-topped coffee table and old Hollywood-style standard lamp. It was refreshing to see that The Marly has also implemented their own water-saving initiative what with the current drought in the Western Cape – the bathtub plug had been removed and the mixer tap in the shower made switching the water on and off between soaping up easy. Guests are also urged to launder towels, sheets and bathrobes less frequently; every bit helps!
While The Marly does offer an in-house ordering service, having a number of Kove Collection eateries situated a few steps from the hotel makes deciding where to eat easy – that is, if you’re able to choose between UMI, La Belle, Paranga, Bilboa, Chinchilla or Zenzero. Whew! We opted to enjoy sunset cocktails in Chinchilla‘s rooftop lounge followed by dinner at Zenzero and were not disappointed.
The only rooftop bar of it’s kind on the strip, Chinchilla is what postcard-worthy moments are made of. Conveniently accessed via a private entrance from The Marly’s pool terrace, Chinchilla offers patrons an extended view out over the ocean and back towards Lions Head and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. A chic space that manages to simultaneously encapsulate a relaxed bohemian atmosphere with international appeal, every aspect of Chinchilla has been designed to delight. The cocktail menu is substantial, with classics such as a margarita or martini shaken with Chinchilla’s own signature sippers – we enjoyed the Litchi & Basil gin and tonic, the “Dill or No Dill” (a deliciously botanical concoction of gin, lemon, elderflower, cucumber, sea salt and of course, fresh dill) and the “Lollies That Make Me Jolly” – a Las Paletas popsicle served upside down in a glass of sparkling wine. Served just across from one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever had the joy to witness, the effect of the location, the service, the drinks and of course the view was entirely unexampled.
Feeling ever so slightly unstable, we wobbled our way down two floors to Zenzero, a restaurant situated a few metres from the beach and naturally specialising in seafood. A blend of popular Mediterranean and contemporary Italian flavours, the menu features many of my personal favourites – a detail that made choosing what to have a dinner a rather timeous activity. An expansive antipasto selection includes white anchovies, calamari fritti, salmon crude and razor clams while the pasta offering tempted me with an authentic Carbonara, Tagliatelle alla Norma (tomato, anchovies, capers, ricotta and Parmesan) and Spaghetti Aglio Olio – beautiful in it’s simplicity of peperoncino, olive oil, chilli and garlic. But since we were seaside and I think I must have been a mermaid in my past life (or a rather large halibut) I naturally opted for fish. West Coast Sole to be exact, prepared with a gremolata-esque topping of butter, mint, basil, parsley, capers and my beloved anchovies. Grilled to perfection, fat and juicy, I can say with all honesty that this was some of the finest sole I’ve ever eaten. I’ve not stopped thinking about it since! My friend Ashleigh enjoyed the Grilled Salmon Trout – served with petit pois and a delicate lemon butter sauce. I was also pleased to note that most of the seafood on offer at Zenzero is sustainable; Ashleigh’s salmon trout was farmed, my sole sustainably caught and many other options like the kingklip and calamari are on SASSI’s green list. The intimate lighting of the restaurant meant that I was unable to capture any pictures, but in a way I’m happy about this. I was able to thoroughly relax and enjoy my meal – hot for a change!
Self-described as “la dolce vita”, Zenzero retains the signature Kove Collection ideal of impeccable food coupled with location and service of the highest quality. Assuredly more that just a meal out, Zenzero is a place you’ll want to linger, especially over a few courses of their excellent fare.
Again I must mention how wonderful it is to be able to walk back from the restaurant to one’s hotel – a detail about The Marly that really does appeal. There was no question or concern about that third glass of wine, which is perhaps why we both slept long past our breakfast booking the following morning. Having been so well fed, and what with the sound of the ocean crashing and the scent of the sea on the night air, sleep came quickly. Luckily Marcelle, the amazing manager on duty at The Marly, managed to secure us a later appointment.
Having only been for dinner before (where I fell in love with the whitebait), I was keen to experience breakfast at Bilboa. Located just below Chinchilla, Bilboa also features a wide balcony and views over the beach. As it was the Cape Cycle Race on that same weekend, we now had a perfect spot to watch the proceedings from. Coffee, a pot of Earl Grey tea and fresh juice came first, and was swiftly followed by a set of Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon trout and Bilboa’s own sumac Hollandaise. Perfectly poached with a soft molten yolk and served on a hot plate (a tiny touch that I feel makes all the difference – especially with egg dishes), every detail about the food was delicious. Next time I’m keen to sample the Avocado Hummus with feta, cumin, tahini and flatbread or the Burrata with peach, pistachios, lavender honey and fresh bread.
Feeling thoroughly satiated and unquestionably well-cared for, the only thing left to do was while away the early afternoon on the balcony of our suite. I think that if I’d had the option, I could easily have whiled away a full week at The Marly – the ideal seaside escape in my own city.
Keen to indulge in your own escape? The good news is that from April, The Marly will be running their special winter rates – R3850 per room per night includes breakfast and a R600 dinner voucher upon arrival. Visit The Marly’s site for more information or to book your stay.