When I first moved to Cape Town, I lived on the slopes of Table Mountain and worked in the CBD, having experienced vibey Long Street before trying the Foreshore within 10 minutes’ walk from the V&A Waterfront.
Property investment is one of my beats, and The Onyx is the type of apartment hotel I’ve written about often but never experienced. It’s also part of the Newmark portfolio, a leading hotel management company founded by Neil Markovitz, so I knew exactly the standard to expect. Both service and offering are out of the top drawer.
I checked in timeously for a Sanctuary Spa appointment in the same building. Fleeting impressions of my home for the night, as I dropped off my overnight bag, were a compact bedroom and bathroom, decorated mainly in black and white. It reminded me of a B&B I had booked into in Le Marais, Paris, en route to the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva one year. Both bedrooms had just enough space to lay a suitcase flat at the foot of the bed. The beds were extremely comfortable, but The Onyx bathroom, thankfully, was a little more generous than the shower-over-the-loo I’d experienced in Paris — and yes, the shower was fabulous.
The adjacent open-plan lounge, dining room, and kitchen area was spacious and neat — easily one of the best I’ve seen. The public areas were quite busy, I thought, wondering what the hotel occupancy was until I was reminded by a woman wheeling in her bicycle towards the lift that people are actually living there.
This part of Cape Town has a few things in common with one of the oldest districts of Paris. Le Marais (French for “marsh”) was once fashionable among the aristocracy when King Henry IV was in overlooking the Place des Vosges. Located on a land-filled swamp, Le Marais has long been in vogue, and is full of interesting arcades, galleries and restaurants, among others, which attract tourists.
The Onyx looks onto the Heerengracht aka the Mall of Cape Town, considered the best residential area in the 1820s because of the dominant owner occupancy rates. It had a “broad canal and picturesque footbridges, [and] a proper surface only as far as the corner of Castle Street….”
After my massage, my companions and I enjoyed an Africa Rising Cocktail created by the SA Brandy Foundation at YU Bar. The evening was rain-free, and we loved being able to wander out on to the long veranda to admire the views of Table Mountain from a lofty height. Dinner followed, comprising plate after plate of mouth-watering Asian tapas at YU restaurant, paired with Simonsig Wines as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kaapse Vonkel and Cap Classique.
The Onyx incorporates the MRKT, which serves breakfast at little tables on the sidewalk or at high barstools so you can watch the city wake up and passers-by go about their daily business. There is also conventional table seating in a spacious dining area filled with natural light. I had some of the best breakfast cappuccinos and dainty croissants there that I’ve had outside Paris. That in itself is a reason to visit again.
The highlight of my stay was the massage at Sanctuary Spa. It helps to arrive stressed, with neck, back and shoulders in suitable knots for the therapist to knead away. But when you get someone like Sisanda Mangqangwana, the treatment becomes next level. I enjoy firm pressure, and she got it just right — without inflicting pain or bruising — and her style and technique are truly outstanding.
Sanctuary Spa’s May Magical Moments package includes a 90-minute side-by-side full-body hot-stone massage, hot-oil foot and scalp massage, and bubbly, for R1,590 per couple.
The Winter Warmer package includes a 20-minute exfoliation steam treatment, a 30-minute hot-stone back, neck and shoulder massage, a 10-minute hot-stone foot massage and a 10-minute scalp massage, for R490 per person
A special discounted rate is being offered for a one-night stay at The Onyx in May, including breakfast and a spa treatment, from R1,650.