Like fine wine, some things only get better with age. The Dock House Boutique Hotel is no exception, though its roots and history form an intrinsic part of its present-day charm. In 1860, Prince Alfred – Queen Victoria’s son – officially marked the commencement of the Alfred Basin’s construction. And, in later years, the Victoria Basin was added to what would be Cape Town’s first harbour (now the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront).
In 1880, a decade after the harbour was opened, the Dock House came into existence in its original form. It was built on solid rock, with views of the Atlantic Ocean, as the home of the harbour’s resident chief engineer. While little is known about this gentleman, the scale and proportions of his home suggest that he was an important figure in society. The building’s architectural style aptly depicts the Victorian era from which it stems, featuring pressed ceilings, thick walls and striking mantlepieces. Rather interestingly, the thick slate wall that runs around the property was originally used as a retaining sea wall, which goes to show how much development has taken place in the area since the 1800s.
Yet another landmark which stems from this century is the Time Ball Tower, located alongside the Dock House Boutique Hotel, then the harbour engineer’s residence. Invented by Captain Robert Wauchope and built in 1894, this structure was used as a signaling device that allowed ship masters to determine the error and rate of their chronometers while in harbour. It remained in use for 40 years and was restored and recommissioned in 1997. Today, it remains an eye-catching sight which has become part of Cape Town’s iconic façade.
Views of this tower and the awe-inspiring Table Mountain can be enjoyed from the Dock House Boutique Hotel’s premises, which maintain a great deal of privacy, just as a residence would. Now a plush, five-room hotel, this property boasts modern finishes and state-of-the-art technology without diminishing elegant touches that remind visitors of the property’s history. The hotel features a smart foyer with a bold staircase, beautiful chandeliers, detailed ceiling cornices, attractive mantlepieces and finer details, such as lamps, fabrics and furniture, which allude to the Victorian era.
The interiors were masterfully brought together by décor genius, Francois du Plessis. As he explained, the aim was to create “an atmosphere that is glamorous, stylishly upmarket and opulent, but – at the same time – calming, personal and homely” and this is truly what he managed to achieve. Each room also includes a stylish, designer bathroom with a freestanding bath, chrome fittings and luxurious amenities. Downstairs, a sun-filled breakfast room invites guests to bask in a calm and quaint setting which similarly alludes to the past. In keeping with the interiors, the hotel’s garden is a sophisticated retreat which features beautifully manicured lawn, a pristine pool and lovely views, without compromising on privacy. Impeccable and personalised guest service further adds to the memorable experience at the Dock House Boutique Hotel.
To think that this chic hotel and its surroundings are so rich in history is quite inspiring. It evokes a sense of nostalgia together with an appreciation of the creative work which has been carried out to shape the property into what it is today: A leading luxury accommodation as part of the Newmark portfolio, it is no doubt among the finest in Cape Town; a true masterpiece.
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