A guest’s home is his castle at Mannabay.
Staying at Mannabay made us feel like Cape Town was our oyster. Driving up the steep driveway, we arrived at what seemed to be a private residence, but unlike the usual bed and breakfast, the place is a design palace from top to bottom. In 2013 David Ryan moved Manna Bay to the foot of table mountain, converting a stylish family home to an 8-room design hotel with a sizable pool and to-die-for public areas. There are plenty of boutique hotels that have themed rooms, but it can seem gimmicky and forced. Not so at Manna Bay. From decadence of Versailles to the honeymooner’s favorite, the flamingo each room is expertly decorated with sweet details that does over-clutter the space.
We arrived during afternoon tea. The lounge at the center of the house is has a long table along the staircase decked out with tea, coffee, sparkling wine and sweet and savory snacks. There were quiches, pastries, artisanal chocolates and fresh fruit. After freshening up in the “Explorer” room, we took some tea and proceeded to spend a couple hours reading by the pool. It’s one of the bigger pools in the inner city hotels, meaning you can actually swim laps. But it’s also just great for lounging. Above the gym (which is well-equipped, but rarely used) there is the Atlas Bar with plenty of lounge chairs and all-day sunshine at the foot of table mountain. Outside they also have a Buma, a cushioned fire circle in the African tradition of fireside storytelling. When the hotel has larger groups or families, they can man the Atlas bar or fire up the Buma in the evenings to give guests an extra special experience.
There is no restaurant, so the staff encourages guests to let them make restaurant reservations around town. They know their way around Cape Town’s culinary scene and if you let them know long enough ahead of time they might even get you a tables at the famously booked-out Test Kitchen. If you want to stay in though, its also no problem to order take out and eat it on terrace overlooking the city.
On our first night we stayed in the Explorer room with a beautiful mixture of safari and world-traveler paraphernalia. The beds are gargantuan with deliciously crisp sheets and a sink-into-me cozy mattress. Alongside the individual decor, each room has special attributes, like the private pool in the Pom Pom room, the tub smack in the middle of the flamingo room and not all rooms have balconies and tubs. If you’re looking to feel regal the Versailles room is where it’s at. Frills are everywhere and the four-poster bed is only outshone by the other one, all in white, outside on the terrace.
We loved that this place feels worldly and intimate at the same time. Guests greet each other and with eight rooms in all, why wouldn’t you? Breakfast is delicious. Alongside the varied choices at breakfast like an inspired cheese plate and both fresh and dried fruits, nuts and smoked meats, the made-to-order omelet and eggs benedict were impeccable. Looking out over Cape Town, from the hills of Oranjezicht, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in castle – even king of it.
Verdict: From poolside relaxation to four-poster beds on your private terrace, Mannabay is the ideal residence for lovers of cosmopolitan comfort.
8 Bridle Road
Oranjezicht, Cape Town
8001, South Africa