“This is a local favorite,” the waitress said, setting an elaborate stand of afternoon tea treats in front of us as we sat under the sun with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. She added: “Our chefs created originals — you won’t find these elsewhere.”
We had just landed in Cape Town that morning and from the airport we’d driven straight to the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa for an early afternoon tea on the outdoor terrace without bothering to check in first.
SUMMER IN CAPE TOWN
The day was so fine and the ocean was calling out to us so we set aside the formalities for later. Also, we were eager to sit by the sea and to start our wonderful holiday at the edge of the world with a proper toast.
This was South Africa, after all, land of amazing nature and excellent wine, so drinks should always be within reach. Luckily a table was available; and soon flutes of sparkling wine and an ornate tray of treats arrived, just too beautiful to eat.
This experience, aptly named “Tea by the Sea” by the 12 Apostles came highly recommended and we were grateful we heeded someone’s advice.
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE 12 APOSTLES HOTEL & SPA
Even now, it gives me an adrenaline shot to write about this moment full of expectations at the very start of three amazing weeks in Africa. Everything was just perfect. The skies were clear and the sea was an intoxicating cerulean hue, and all around us were happy people celebrating something on a Friday at noon.
Perhaps they all had birthdays or anniversaries; or maybe Cape Townians do this all the time and need no excuses for a mid-day party ahead of the weekend. In any case, their joy was infectious, so by the time we’d put away our mobile phones, made the exuberant toasts and were ready to eat, I felt on top of the world in spite of the fact that I was geographically at the bottom of it.
AVOCADO SANDWICHES AT THE 12 APOSTLES
To break the ice between us and our elegant afternoon tea tray, from the tantalizing selections we chose the avocado sandwiches covered in crushed almonds. Perfectly formed, the initial mouthfuls of goodness left us wide-eyed with wonder.
The taste is simply impossible to describe; but we were in heaven and I’m sure the location had something to do with our elation as well.
We savored these rich finger sandwiches — crunchy on the outside and all mushy with avocado inside — as slowly as we could manage between sips of bubbly; and then we quickly ordered another round.
“Life is short and when else will we ever have these again?” My companion said, in the form of a rhetorical question. We both knew that I felt exactly the same way, and this is how we threw our calorie counts to the wind that afternoon at the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa.
CLASSIC HOTEL BY THE SEA IN CAPE TOWN
There are many lovely places to stay in Cape Town, but the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa is one of a handful that directly take you not only to a hotel of luxury, but also to a time of genteel and unrushed travel for a proper holiday. It’s a destination hotel full of quirks and personal touches; including winding corridors and narrow stairs that lead to picture-pretty landings.
Meanwhile, the interiors are about classic furniture, memorable art, stripes and flowery prints that create a country house atmosphere. Everything slowly grows on you so that eventually you feel like calling this hotel a home. Not a few guests return every year for this familiar and wonderful holiday.
DRIVING ALONG CHAPMAN’S PEAK
The main attractions are the ocean views, the famous 12 Apostles mountain range, and the nearby Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the loveliest road trips in the world. These alone, along with the hotel’s wild garden of botanical, offer the perfect combination for down-time in Cape Town.
Here, you will wish for a book or sketchpad; or at least a playlist of your favorite music; once you sit down, you won’t want to get up, let alone go to the V&A Waterfront.
The need to have a busy sightseeing list will turn into a distant memory. Most guests at 12 Apostles purposely want to leave the world behind. So they end up enjoying what is in front of them instead of following the tourist trails around the city.