Is there a more wondrous public space in Cape Town than the Sea Point promenade? In the evening you’re as likely to bump into fitness bros, lifting heavy things for no apparent reason at the outdoor gyms, as you will a family flying along gleefully on rented electric scooters.
Old folks from the retirement home across Beach Road lay claim to the benches and their fair share of sunshine, while tourists grin up in wonder at the mountain, almost disbelieving their luck in ending up here.
In a city where public space is so often contested, the social history retold in geography, out here all colours and creeds, shapes and sizes, seem to happily carve out a niche for themselves.
There are few better vantage points to watch the colourful parade go by than the terrace of Harvey’s Bar at The Winchester hotel.
It’s part of a raft of upgrades at the storied hotel and is today a space that is as sleek as you’d want a hotel bar to be, with the charm of a historic seaside escape.
You’ll love the clever design tweaks here too, from hand-painted ceiling panels that cosy up the space to the Art Deco styling behind the bar. While the terrace tables remain the best seats in the house, counter seating and tables have been subtly realigned to give more patrons a sea view. If you’re not on the terrace, angle for a leather banquette with a fine Promenade panorama.
On the menu, they’re best known for their G&Ts — Hendrick’s with a slice of cucumber for me, thanks — but the cocktail menu runs a fine range of signature creations and classic pours.
Harvey’s is often a precursor to dinner just across the hotel lobby, where restaurateur Rory Jossel dishes up a contemporary dining experience across a menu of shareable small plates and creative main courses. The thread holding them all together is Jossel’s deft hand with live-fire cooking, with a custom-built charcoal grill in the kitchen giving just about everything on the menu a sultry smokiness.
Look to the pulled short rib and smoked yoghurt arayes or flamed salmon sashimi for bellwethers of what’s on offer. “Big Plates” — think seared tuna, or Patagonian squid in tom yum butter — all lead towards the steak selection, where the “Dirty Rib-eye” is the standout; sealed in searing hot coals.
The Shoreditch space has also had a subtle revamp, from the playful parasol lamps that create puddles of light on individual tables to leather banquettes of a deep oceanic blue to mirror what’s beyond the terrace tables. And if the summery southeaster makes its presence felt? Head for the iconic courtyard, where bougainvillea climbs the walls and the chatter of the central fountain keeps any city noise at bay. Little wonder it’s become a hotspot for brunch on the Atlantic seaboard.
Whether you pull in for brunch, stop by for sunset cocktails or stay the course into dinner, there’s a wonderful new energy to the public spaces of The Winchester. While hotel bars were once the domain of overnight guests, today The Winchester has thrown open the doors to welcome savvy locals and curious tourists alike. The fact that it overlooks a similarly welcoming public space today in the midst of its own revamp? Well, that’s just a happy coincidence.