Peace and tranquility are elusive concepts in this day and age of being permanently plugged into the world we live in. It’s impossible to escape the buzz of technology, hashtags and the tapping of fingernails against touch screens.
To find some semblance of tranquility usually requires a lengthy drive out of town to one of a myriad retreats, far from the madding crowd. But hidden in the leafy suburb of Bishopscourt, close to the iconic Kirstenbosch Gardens, is an oasis where the body, mind and spirit can be soothed by its natural beauty.
The Arambrook Boutique Hotel is a relatively new kid on an old block, but it exudes the confidence of an establishment that has been in the hospitality industry for ages.
As we approached the hotel along the driveway that hugs a welcoming fountain, just to the left, juicy red plums hang invitingly from their lifegiving trees. “They need about one or two more weeks,” says our host. With his words my plum fantasy evaporated in front of my eyes. But it was only a matter of seconds before those eyes were soothed by the sight of our magnificent surroundings, more especially the exquisite hotel itself.
It rests proud, with its open spaces and thoughtful design choices. Classic white walls are the perfect backdrop to the evocative artwork gracing every room and hallway. This is no stuffy old-world establishment. Bright contemporary colours transform the lounge and dining areas into the perfect vantage point from which to gaze at the immaculate garden outside, from which the real goodness is sourced. The glass walls ensure we could enjoy the view even if the chill sets in.
Just more than a year ago Arambrook was a private home, before the family converted it into a boutique hotel, to allow others to appreciate its calming effects, and its impressive surroundings.
Dream weddings deserve to be staged at this magical venue, with a stylish pool as its focal point. Under the shade of the oak trees, and between the colourful rose arches, is the ideal place to take your vows. With just eight rooms you could even secure the entire establishment for an intimate family event.
For the working guest, politician or celebrity, Arambrook provides privacy from the glare of public life and shuts the noise from outside. The majestic trees around the property also stand guard against the notorious winds that could otherwise ruin everyone’s day. Menus can be tailormade to suit your event.
The stylish conference room is also fully equipped to handle private, high-level meetings, or team workshops.
Sustainability is at the forefront of the hotel’s operations and services. This ethos carries through to the kitchen where executive chef Stacey Chan sources her ingredients from the garden as she dreams up some delightful meals.
“Our garden plays a big role in what dishes we will create on the day, the seasons will always impact on our creations, but mostly what inspires my dishes is the love for fresh, simple, minimal ingredients brought together to make our dishes homely with a touch of elegance,” Chan says. “I love the fact that we only use sustainable produce in the kitchen, with our green ethos we go as far as using predominantly glass jar containers, minimal plastic, organic cleaning products and all our biodegradable food waste is put back into our garden.”
Dinner is an elaborate affair, as it should be at Arambrook. As the sun fades the sky into darkness, the surroundings change into a cosy corner subtly lit by candles.
A four-course dinner is custom-prepared for the guests, and that is something no hotel can readily boast. On this windy evening, with a chill in the air, the chef clearly understood the need for warm flavours and comforting cuisine. For the first course, three prawns were dunked delicately into a coriander sauce with an underlay of sweet chili sauce. The layered flavours ended in a burst of fire, and it was delicious.
The second dish was slices of teriyaki salmon with bok choi vegetables and noodles. For a starter dish, the portion was too substantial and the salmon pieces were cut a little too thick for my liking. Salmon is a delicate fish, especially when consumed raw, chunky pieces doesn’t do the dish any justice.
Grilled lamb chops with potatoes, vegetables and a jus was served for the main meal. There is great emphasis on creating well-balanced, high quality dishes with the freshest of ingredients. With this ethos behind the kitchen, you can’t be dealt a bad meal.
The wines are carefully curated from the Cape’s best vintages to sit alongside the high-quality ingredients in the dishes and powerful flavours. Each pairing was masterfully considered and matched perfectly.
The night consumes you quickly after a memorable meal. It could also be the surroundings that comfort you like a warm blanket.
The bedrooms are large and welcoming, with beds you never want to leave behind. I’ve recently taken note of hotels who consider the mattress above most other features in the room. It impresses me much. Cape Town was going through one of its frequent cold spells, so warm colours indoors made it the perfect place to nest for a few hours, with a fully stocked mini bar and a luxurious bathroom fitted with standalone bath and rain shower.
The Kawai grand piano in the living area spoke volumes about the tasteful decor. It’s the showstopper, ideal for unwinding with a glass of whiskey in hand. It is an intimate hotel with furnishings of utter contemporary luxury and service to match.
We awoke to the smell of fresh pastries wafting through the air. Trust me when I say there isn’t a better smell to be assaulted with on a misty morning. Breakfast was served in courses, hot, cold and decadent fresh pastries to square off another delightful meal. It’s the attention to detail that impressed me more than anything. The chefs make a point of finding out your preferences to enthrall you with their food, and that is service beyond expectation.
And that right there is what Arambrook is – it stands as an ode to good taste, fine wine and delectable food. It’s a beautiful hideaway in plain sight; a hidden secret you almost wish you could keep all to yourself.
Contact: 083 268 1479
Address: 15 Kirstenbosch Dr, Bishopscourt, Cape Town