In the Shangaan language, Tintswalo means “the intangible feeling of love, gratitude and peace bestowed upon someone offering you a meaningful and worthy gift.” And what a gift it was to stay at Tintswalo Atlantic for a night this summer.
Nestled on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean between Hout Bay and Cape Town, this 5-star paradise is blessed with the good fortune of being the only hotel within Table Mountain National Park – one of South Africa’s eight World Heritage Sites. Situated on Chapman’s Peak Drive, which provides unparalleled views of the Cape Peninsula, a stay at Tintswalo Atlantic offers the unique opportunity to experience fine food and unbelievable wines in one of the country’s most beautiful settings.
Pulling up in the hotel’s car park on the cliff’s edge, I couldn’t believe my eyes – the sheer beauty was nothing short of astounding. And my amazement continued as we wound our way down to the ocean in the minibus shuttle. Greeted by some of the friendliest staff that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, we were immediately offered homemade lemonade and face cloths to help ease our transition from the outside world.
12 luxury chalets sit snuggled on the rocks alongside each other; each with its own fantastic decor in line with an island theme, and each with a private and unobscured view of the spectacular Hout Bay. From Zanzibar to Cousine, traditional cultural touches are interwoven with modern design elements, so that each chalet promises the height of opulence combined with old world charm.
A brief tour first lead me to ‘Lamu‘ – a suite that boasts an extended private deck in addition to a balcony, so that honeymooners can dine in romantic solitude under the stars before retiring under the covers. The next chalet can be combined with this one for family bookings, and an optional one-way access means parents can rest safe in the knowledge that the kids can’t burst in at inopportune moments! All of these touches, along with how much thought was behind them, left me in awe at how this hotel caters so tirelessly for individual needs.
I was then handed a key to the Robben Island suite – an eclectic tribute to Mandala, as well as to the country that he loved and the people whom he fought to liberate. With its vibrant green colours and funky finishes, this take on the island where Madiba was held prisoner was an important reminder of South Africa’s history as well as its beauty, and it provided a comfortable sanctuary for reflection.
But as inclined as you may feel to never leave your room, the lodge is equally wondrous at every turn, and offers a choice of places to unwind during your stay. Guests can enjoy an intimate dip overlooking the Atlantic in the warm splash pool, which is perched at the far end of the premises, or there is a spacious and elegantly designed lounge area, complete with a bar and stools made from milkwood trees salvaged from the fires that ravaged parts of the hotel at the start of 2015. For me these furnishings represent the importance of finding beauty everywhere – even in the midst of destruction.
As the hotel only accommodates 24 guests, you can be assured of a tranquil time away from the madding crowd, no matter where you choose to sip your cocktail. And once you’re ready to soak up your drink with dinner, the designated dining area awaits. This is open to guests and visitors alike, so even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth a trip to Tintswalo Atlantic just to enjoy their fine dining experience. With three courses, each more delectable than the last, complete with canapés and palate cleansers, this takes gastronomy to a whole new level. With a retractable ceiling for those sitting on the adjoining deck, it was an opportunity like no other to savour my starter under a starry sky, encouraged by the elements to leave just enough space for dessert.
The following morning after a 4-course breakfast that left me bursting at the seams and happy to start the day, we bid a fond farewell to this unique destination by throwing stones into the sea and making wishes, as per the Tintswalo Atlantic tradition. Filled with hope after knowing how much this hotel has achieved in just over a year since the Cape Fires, I left having experienced a stay that was a real breath of fresh air.
You can win a two night stay at the gorgeous Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis in the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 competition. Click here for more details and to enter!