I’ve been making it a bit of personal mission to check out some of the country’s favourite leisure spots and restaurants- yes I want to destroy any chance that I would have of having a Ryk Neethling-like body before summer. The latest in that series is the recently rebranded Hilton Cape Town City Centre and its Indian cuisine-based Mezbaan restaurant.
The Hilton Hotel Brand is well known for impeccable management of a variety of hotels world-wide and I was keen to see whether this was the case with Cape Town’s own offering. From the minute you walk in The Hilton Cape Town City Centre (HCTCC) you are taken aback by the sheer beauty of the finishes inside. It honestly feels like you’ve just stepped into a James Bond movie with marble and gold detail everywhere.
I met up with one of the hotel’s manager’s who took me on a quick tour of premises explaining that The Hilton had just undergone some wholesale changes, with the old management being replaced by the globally reknowned brand. The HCTCC is situated on the verge of the culturally rich and traditionally Muslim Bo Kaap area and was previously an entirely dry hotel (no booze allowed). Realising that this was unrealistic in a country like SA where everyone has the freedom to choose, the re-invented hotel was now made partially dry (you can drink in your hotel room and in the designated bar area). I felt that this was a good compromise that respected the culture that the hotel was previously based on serving. The bar area is right next to the pool deck, which promises some epic summer sunsets, when the season eventually changes.
As a businessperson, this has to be one of the best spots to come and stay- it’s pretty much like having an apartment in Cape Town that is fully kitted out for business meetings in the lounge area of the rooms. It is definitely 5 star in terms of it’s finishes and comes standard with all the creature comforts one would come to expect from similar hotels around the world.
Onto the food. I ate at the main restaurant inside The Hilton called Mezbaan. The menu was based on Northern Indian cuisine (the less burny side of India) and was prepared by chefs who had grown up in the region thus ensuring that the nibbles tasted like nothing I’ve ever experienced here in South Africa (and I have quite a few Indian friends). The food itself was amazing and I got to try a selection of a couple of the main dishes to get an idea of what the menu was like as a whole. The highlight of the menu has to be the Lamb dish as well as this little Mango Chicken number that they do. The lamb was truely some of the most succulent I’ve ever experienced, while the Mango Chicken honestly changed the way that I thought about that particular bird. You have to order one of those two if you do go for dinner. I just feel that I have to mention the fact that you are also not allowed to drink in the restaurant area, which kinda sucks. I know I might sound like an alcoholic but there’s nothing like sipping on a glass of wine while you’re enjoying and authenic Indian meal. Maybe something that the management should think about changing. Maybe.
Even the decor inside of Mezbaan is other worldly and makes you feel like you’ve stepped into your own little bit of India (even though they were playing a mix of classical and thai rave in the background, which was strange). It’s an experience of note and you really feel like you’re in a hotel that is in Middle East somewhere, even though its right smack-bang in the middle of Cape Town.
If you’re coming to Cape Town to get loose and would like to booze it up wherever you want then this is not the hotel for you (or me). If that’s not a major requirement than I think this is the perfect spot, especially if you’re visiting on business or are a super loaded Sheikh.