One & Only: kids’ eye view

2013-05-23 15:20

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"BENJ!" I hissed across the foyer of the One & Only Cape Town hotel. "Did you just hi-five the concierge?"

"What?" eleven-year-old Benj said, defensively. "He made me very happy."

And he stayed very happy. We spent only one night but by the time we left, a full third of the hotel staff had been hi-fived, hugged or beamed at by Benj. Which made me realise something only foreign tourists seem to know… the One & Only is a fantastic kid hotel.

You wouldn’t think it, would you?

It’s so gleaming. It has both a Reuben’s AND a Nobu, and the Vista bar serves the greatest smoked lemon margarita in Cape Town. These are not attributes that scream kid-friendly.

But weirdly, it is.

Whether it’s the mind-bendingly cool pool, the hi-tech KidsOnly area, the sumptuous rooms, the bedside brownies or the luxury mini-bathrobes...the One & Only hotel is far and away my kids’ favourite place (Other than home, of course. Actually wait, I’m not going there. That way lies madness).

It’s probably best to let them explain.

Benjamin Spath (11)

Ummmm. This is kinda my first review so… hi, I am Benjamin.

Best thing bout the One & Only? I actually loved every single part whether it was swimming in quite frankly the awesomest pool in the world (no question) or sitting outside sipping tea gently.  There were so many options for me I could swim, sleep, drink or even play video games in the kids only area but no matter what you’re doing it’s best with family so if you’re thinking of coming, come with family.

Worst thing?
Worst thing… no flaw… I just can’t think of one. Bye, I guess.

Josef Spath (13)

Best thing about the One & Only? I think the main thing that I like isn’t the incredibly great restaurants, or the fantastically fine-tuned air-conditioning, but a kind of aura that surrounds the entire hotel.

I am yet to prove this theory with facts, but my gut feeling tells me it’s some kind of unsmellable mood enhancer (obviously the pool counts for the majority of my enjoyment, but I cut that out, so that I wasn’t only talking about pool temperature, or the bubble bed, or…).

Worst thing?  There could have been more pillow brownies.

(Mom note: Yes. Josef is a smart-arse.)

The adult view

Of course, when your children are happy, you can truly let go and relax.

I had a full body massage at the spa, which practically melted my bones. (In a good way.) I lounged by the pool like a professional, pretending to read a book, whilst actually just revelling in the moment. My husband Andreas lay next to me, actually reading… but men are sometimes slow to take in the fullness of awesome. Or his book was better than mine.

We also got to act like kids ourselves. We giggled like schoolchildren whilst playing with the in-room espresso machine and filled the gigantic bath to the brim with Charlotte Rhys bubble bath. We also got a little too excited by the teeny bottles of Tanqueray, and spent more time than appropriate in our snuggly robes n slippers.

(Ooh, and the One & Only still has real conditioner. I don’t know why hotels think they can start labeling the shampoo ‘conditioning’ and get away with it, but it annoys me every time. I have that kind of hair.)

After one night, I felt like I’d had a week off work in an oasis… right in the heart of the city. We’ll be keeping an eye out for SA resident specials.

The restaurants

All four of us ate at all three restaurants. Our family consists of one sweet tooth (Andreas), one ex-restaurant reviewer (me), one ultra-conservative (Benj) and one seriously sophisticated palate (Josef).

We all enjoyed the pool restaurant for its laidback vibe, and surprisingly extensive menu. I had a really good prawn and saffron risotto, while the boys had pizza, fish n chips and pasta respectively. Pizza was a little underdone, but otherwise a solid lunch.

Dinner at Nobu blew our minds. Dreas and I had tried the tasting menu before, but were left strangely nonplussed. This time all four of us went a la carte, helped by a great waitress who kept pointing out the good stuff and winking.

We ate crab and lobster tacos, baby spinach salad with dried red miso, miso Alaskan cod, tuna tataki, miso soup, rock shrimp tempura… piling everything in the middle and picking and chatting and exclaiming with delight.

At one point, Joe got all thoughtful and launched into a discussion as to whether chorizo was umami, as the food was redolent of a similar taste. Then a giant chocolate ball stuffed with ice cream, melting as a waitress poured hot chocolate over it, was placed in front of him. And he lost his mind.

I also had some sake that had been aged with gentle music playing, apparently to mimic the maturing effect waves used to have on sake being transported by ship in times gone by. I couldn’t tell this difference, but it made for a great story.

Reuben’s breakfast buffet

By far the best breakfast moment was when a kid piled around 30 pieces of bacon on his plate and topped it all with a chocolate croissant. Once my kids had seen that, they felt free to choose ANYTHING. I had gorgeous a la carte Eggs Royale, while the boys demolished plates of bacon and eggs, bagels, fruit tarts sausages and – surprisingly enough – breakfast oysters. (I know! Unexpected, right?)
Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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