The Westcliff Hotel

The Westcliff Hotel

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The Joburg team has another R1000 voucher to give away to one lucky reader. To be entered into the draw, name one of the ingredients in the Southern California omelette.

Entries should be sent to before Tuesday, 27th July 2010. One entry per person. Good luck!

Review by Philippa McRae

The Westcliff is not a landmark you can miss; from a distance it seems to occupy the entire hill it is built on (or as my husband describes it “that awesome “pink” hotel set against the cliff”). My perception of The Westcliff has always been that it is way out of my league; Kieron (KM) in his capacity as a facilitator often works in hotels of this calibre, but seldom gets the opportunity to be a guest. My first experience was a number of years ago, where I attended a Saturday afternoon high tea event for my book club. It may have been my younger, and slightly more insecure self that surfaced, but I felt out of place and not quite well-dressed enough to be mingling with the upper classes.

I can now say, with no agenda, that my perceptions have been turned on their head. I have been fortunate enough to visit The Westcliff a number of times over the last few years, and I have only been charmed by the professional, courteous and friendly staff, the fabulous food and luxurious facilities on offer. (KM – I can fully vouch for this – having been to many hotels all over the world this rivals the best of them).

But it was my first-ever overnight stay that really provided the proverbial cherry on the cake. My tired and overworked husband was thrilled when I told him about our visit – with two kids and his extensive travelling, spending time alone, together, in the same location for an extended period of time is pure luxury!

We started off having a drink and some snacks in the Polo Bar – the bar extends to the outside area, which overlooks the hotels infinity pool and provides guests with one of the most beautiful views of Joburg – this alone is a good enough reason to stop off to unwind after a long week. Many locals frequent the Polo Bar as it offers a fantastic tapas and cocktail menu.

We then checked into our Junior suite which was situated at the top of the hotel complex and surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. More spectacular views awaited us, as did true 5 star luxury – from the spacious room with lounge area, to the ornate bed and enormous bathroom (complete with heated handrails, a shower that could accommodate a family, and lovely towelling robes). KM – My standard response to most hotel rooms, is that it is a bed, a bathroom, a TV and a cupboard. This is true, but the Westcliff takes this to a whole new level. For starters, the so called Junior Suite is nearly the size of our house, the bathroom and shower – always my first measure of a hotel room defies description (remind me to tell you about my shower head theory sometime) and the TV – well that just “pops” out from the bottom of the bed – makes the screen look the size of a movie cinema screen).

When we returned from dinner, our bed had been turned down with our slippers placed on a white linen cloth and positioned conveniently next to the bed. We were enticed by the bar fridge (think chocolate and nougat) but decided we had eaten more than enough for one day. KM – My next measure after the shower – the mini bar. When one contemplates “death by minibar” (DBM) this would be my first choice, skip the choccie and the nougat and head straight for the “Johnnie Black” and the “Heinies” (Heineken) – can there really be any better way to consider DBM – perhaps it would be best defined as an “assisted” DBM?

Before dinner we were treated to a couples massage in one of the Botanic Spa’s suites. We were still catching up on the day’s news when we entered the treatment room, but soon drifted off into a light slumber as our therapists, accompanied by soothing music, performed wonders with their hands. The Spa prides itself on the uniquely designed Cloud Nine Ritual – and what an experience it is! In their own words “A unique blend of Thai, Reiki and Ayervadic touches are combined to alleviate stress, ease aching muscles and revive the senses with a powerful, customized massage.” Enough said. KM -my measure – “did I fall asleep” as this is an indication of a massage at exactly the right intensity in my books – another box for the Westcliff checked.

Dinner in the La Belle Terrasse and Loggia restaurant was a decadent affair. Kieron ordered Tempura soft shell crab sandwich as a starter whilst I tried the fig, wild rocket and warm goats cheese salad served with vanilla dressing; main course for me was Pan fried Ostrich and Portabelini Mushrooms with Sage jus, crushed Sweet Potatoes and wilted Spinach, whilst Kieron devoured the Grilled Grass Fed Beef Fillet which was served with an Avocado, Gorgonzola and Wild Rocket salad and a Red Wine Reduction. KM – Normally I would avoid anything even mentioning the word Gorgonzola – but executive chef Nicky Gibbs’ personal attention at our table at “ordering time” convinced me to live on the edge with her personal recommendation – and as is always the case – follow the advice of the chef and you are unlikely to ever be disappointed. I also enjoyed the selection of wine that was available by the glass – this adds a great touch as you can try different wines with your courses without feeling like you have to have a bottle per course – in which case I may never have actually left the building. And whilst we were boring and ordered the same dessert, the Maple Pecan pie served with spicy ginger ice-cream was far from tedious. After all of that we requested a wheelbarrow to take us up to the room but decided to stagger the few metres instead. KM – For the record – I was very happy to take the shuttle.

Breakfast (yes we actually ate the next day) concluded our culinary experience. And we even spotted a celebrity. Whilst prowling around the breakfast buffet table, we saw Ben Elton (KM – I saw him first) sitting at one of the tables, reading the morning paper. We quickly lost interest (KM – I was first here as well!) when our Southern California omelette arrived – it consists of scrambled egg, avo, chorizo sausage, chicken, tomato and coriander served in a burrito – very different and delicious. KM – and the view from the balcony over breakfast is unrivalled.

The Westcliff Hotel is not the exclusive domain of wealthy overseas visitors; it offers luxurious escape from the mundane and everyday stuff we get caught up in. So treat yourself and indulge in a truly Joburg experience.

For further information follow the links alongside.

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