A Cape Classic Reinvented: The Winchester Hotel Throws Open Its Doors After Major Refurbishment
Nearly a century after it was first built; The Winchester Hotel reopens to the public in November after a comprehensive R90-million renovation that has transformed this much-loved seafront hotel overlooking Cape Town’s scenic Sea Point promenade.
Originally built as a residential apartment block, and previously known as The Winchester Mansions, a beautifully reimagined The Winchester Hotel reopens under the management of Newmark Hotels, Reserves, Lodges and Residences, with a remarkable refurbishment set to cement the hotel’s long-held reputation as one of Cape Town’s most sought-after destinations.
“There are few hotels in Cape Town, or South Africa, that combine so much nostalgia, history and charm into one memorable locale,” enthuses Neil Markovitz, CEO of Newmark Hotels, Reserves, Lodges and Residences. “Guests will be thrilled at how we have managed to update and modernise the experience, without losing any of the innate charm of this iconic Cape address.”
Honouring the rich history of the property, while meeting the evolving needs of the contemporary traveller, was the starting point for the creative process behind the redesign, explains Mardré Meyer, Creative Director at SOURCE Interior Architecture, which has guided both the refurbishment and rebranding of the hotel.
“The building comes with an enormous history, personality and charm,” says Meyer. “In reimagining what the hotel could be, it was important for us to reference and respect that past, while also creating a more contemporary experience that fits with the needs and desires of today’s global traveller.”
From the first steps through the front door, where a sleek steel and glass roof now replaces the vintage canvas awning, the transformation is striking.
A bold approach to the décor sees the hotel’s public spaces enlivened by an eye-catching monochromatic colour scheme of richly-detailed black-and-white tiles, offset by striking signature chandeliers and splashes of colour and character that celebrate the hotel’s long and rich history. The minimalist look extends to the iconic central courtyard, which has been rejuvenated with new tiling, extensive landscaping and the installation of a refreshed signature fountain. Just beyond the courtyard The Constance Room offers boutique conferencing facilities, set overlooking the refurbished pool terrace, which features bold black-and-white striped sun loungers and new landscaping. A reimagined wellness spa is also in the pipeline, with opening planned for early-2022.
“In all of these refreshed public spaces returning guests will immediately feel at home, and recognise the long-established charm and character of the property,” says General Manager Michael Liffmann. “Although some of the changes are bold, the DNA of The Winchester Hotel remains the same. We’ve really worked hard to retain the heart and soul of the property, while giving this grand old lady a fresh new look.”
Spacious seaside luxury
The seventy-six (76) guest rooms and suites have also been thoughtfully updated, infusing a welcome dash of modernity into the décor and design. Carpets, bathrooms and fittings have been entirely replaced, while the careful selection of furniture pieces evoke a sense of contemporary style in tandem with celebrating the history of the hotel.
The spacious en-suite bathrooms are a particular triumph, with expansive showers complemented by glamorous touches that hint at the golden era of travel, from elegant freestanding baths to champagne-hued brushed-metal fittings.
The extensive refurbishment also allowed The Winchester Hotel’s sea-facing rooms to better capitalise on their remarkable views across the Atlantic Ocean to Robben Island. These sought-after rooms have been entirely reconfigured to create spacious sea-facing suites, including a signature Executive Suite with a private ocean-facing terrace. Selected Loft Suites also offer private balconies overlooking the Sea Point promenade.
In step with the extensive revamp of the rooms and public areas fresh inspiration has been given to the food and drink experience in the capable hands of respected restaurateur Rory Jossel.
Food inspired by flames
The key for Jossel, who owns and operates successful restaurants in South Africa and Dubai, was to create a dining destination with a charm and character that dovetails with The Winchester Hotel, yet stands apart as a destination in its own right.
“This won’t only be a restaurant for hotel residents. We want to be able to offer a food and drink experience that continues to attract the local Sea Point residents and greater Cape Town area to come and spend time at The Winchester Hotel,” says Jossel.
While Jossel and his creative culinary team continue to refine the experience ahead of The Winchester Hotel’s hotly-anticipated re-opening, the foundation of the dining experience will be a contemporary menu built on cooking with charcoal, wood and open flame.
“We’re not limiting ourselves to a specific style of cuisine, but we want to embrace all of those wonderful flavours that come through when cooking with fire,” explains Jossel, adding that a diverse menu will be on offer to tempt a wide range of hungry summer palates. “The focus will be on quality produce, whether that’s char-grilled seasonal vegetables, a beautiful tomahawk steak, or fresh local line fish. We simply want true, fresh flavours to shine through on the menu.”
Complementing the dining experience will be a new incarnation of the hotel’s famous Harvey’s Bar. While the décor, service and drinks menu have all been updated for a more contemporary bar experience, what hasn’t changed is the wonderful streetside terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Town’s famous seafront Promenade. Jossel also plans to revive the much-loved Sunday brunch events, held in the idyllic central courtyard to live jazz tunes.
“The brunch offering always been such a part of the hotel’s character, so we certainly want to retain this wonderful tradition, while giving it a fresher look and feel,” says Jossel.
It’s an approach that neatly defines the long-awaited reinvention of The Winchester Hotel, blending steadfast respect for the traditions and character of this storied Cape hotel, while reimagining the décor, service and experience to appeal to the contemporary traveller. After nearly a century of standing watch on the Atlantic Seaboard, a true Cape icon has been beautifully reinvented for a brave new world of global travel.