Overnight at Tintswalo Atlantic
Renowned as one of Cape Town’s most precious hidden gems, Tintswalo Atlantic is a five-star boutique lodge nestled on a pebbled beach at the foot of the ocean-facing Chapman's Peak, a part of Table Mountain National Park. We took an evening out to visit this amazing hotel and in doing so, we were treated to an abundance of natural beauty, a world-class dining experience, and an all-too-comfortable rest overlooking Hout Bay, and the far-stretching Atlantic Ocean. Safe to say, it was very difficult for us to leave!
The entire lodge is built along the rugged Atlantic coastline that runs for what seems like forever, meandering with rock formations and epic mountain ranges along the western coast of South Africa. This little portion of the seaside is particularly beautiful as it falls under the famed Table Mountain National Park, giving Tintswalo a stark view of the Ocean before it, paired with the ever-looming mountains behind. Old Milkwood trees and thick, wild foliage adorn the surrounding landscape, much having grown back since the area suffered terrible damages from a wild fire in 2015.
As if having a room literally at the shoreline isn't enough, following a small path out of our room took us to a serene pebble beach which, in summer, plays host to a pair of large hammocks and what I imagine to be scores of tourist families, all vying for a spot of sunshine and their turn in the hanging nets. Just above the shore, a heated pool lies sunken into surrounding decking. The pool area, though relatively small, is perfect for a relaxing swim, or even a drink out in the open.
What struck me the most about Tintswalo Atlantic is that no matter where you are within the grounds of the lodge, one is always abundantly aware that the ocean is a commanding force there and this strange factor is one of the most alluring aspects of the entire property.
After a brief introduction to the property and surrounding area, we were shown to our room, after being informed that all the suites at Tintswalo Atlantic are named after islands of the world, with ours being the Java suite.
Understated in both character and size from the outside, the true elegance and scope of our room eluded us until our double doors swung open. We were greeted by a sprawling living area, a bed big enough for 4, our very own antique fire oven (nights are cold in winter here!), a bathroom with all the perks (including a tub overlooking the ocean), and a balcony that hangs over the gently rolling waves. Nothing could have prepared us for such a profound accommodation experience. Of course, we expect it to be relatively comfortable and nicely put together, as most places are, but this room was in a league of its own. As soon as our hostess stepped out, we began commenting on our favourite aspects of the cottage suite; 'How great are these paintings!', 'We can shower and bath... And these gowns are so soft!', 'The colours in here are perfect!', 'The ocean is right there!'. After about 20 minutes of feeling like the kid in Home Alone 2 when he gets the suite in a fancy New York hotel, we finally managed to calm down, threw some more wood on the fire, and prepared for dinner.
A deciding factor behind our going to Tintswalo Atlantic in the first place, was the food. The restaurant at Tintswalo Atlantic is the perfect setting for a gourmet experience with a difference, and to celebrate a special occasion. It is open to both in-house hotel guests, as well as other diners by prior arrangement and subject to availability, with breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily. Executive Chef Guy Clarke takes a simplified approach to cooking, focusing on flavour and substance: ‘I believe in celebrating ingredients in their purest form, using methods and techniques that enhance flavour, presentation and texture. Sourcing and utilising local, sustainable and organic is key to delivering an ethical and superior menu.’
Our vegan menu, a six course journey through a range of local flavours and more diverse textures, was put together by Clarke's sous-chef, Justine Suntah, a young woman with an extremely advance palette and an eye for detail. The meal started off with an amuse bouche consisting of a beetroot wonton, celery and apple mousse and a sesame ginger glaze. This was followed by a simple soup that blew us away with its subtle yet sophisticated blend of lentils, coconut and spices, topped with wonderfully fresh baby vegetables.
For starters we had a choice between a savoury cashew cheesecake and a butternut toast, each topped with intricate little elements that brought the dish to life not only in terms of the flavours but also the plating, which was absolutely gorgeous. The final step before our mains was a wonderful palate cleanser of blood orange sorbet - delicious enough to eat on it's own.
The mains were arguably the most memorable dishes on the entire menu. One of the options was dukkah crusted tofu, rooibos poached sweet potato, cauliflower and turmeric cream, charred corn and burnt tomato. A wonderfully hearty vegan main meal that still encompassed all the subtleties of fine dining.
The second option was mushroom scallops with citrus brussel sprouts, wild buchu and parsley barley, shimeji mushrooms, caramelised onion puree and many more tastes and textures, all playing together towards a gorgeously balanced plate. We were already full to the brim, but had to get a taste of the desserts of the night before retiring - a delicious peanut and coconut tart for my husband and a tropical fruit and banana parfait for me. Extremely full and satisfied, we said our thanks to our charming waiter Enoch and the chefs, and headed back to our suite in the hopes that our stomachs would be empty again before breakfast.
In the morning we headed out to the restaurant area for breakfast and the meal was no less exquisite than the one we had the previous night. A vegan feast consisting of fresh fruit and pickles, freshly baked blueberry pastries, toasty nut granola with a warm homemade soy yogurt, followed by a sourdough toast with mushrooms and spinach that took our breath away. This all was accompanied by Chef Guy's wife's homemade Rooibos Kombucha - the kind that tastes better than any of the ones you can get at the shops.
The most profound thing about Tintswalo, thinking about it all in retrospect, isn't the simple fact that one can eat a great meal in blissful comfort, nor that one can sit in complete privacy on the shores of the Atlantic, drink in hand and heart in throat. The truth, and the reason that Tintswalo is one-of-a-kind, is few places offer such considerate and sincere hospitality. The perks are amazing, mind-blowing, even, but I suspect that everyone who leaves Tintswalo does so talking about just how special they were made to feel while they were there.
You can't put a price on that.
For more info, please contact Tintswalo Atlantic below:
Tel: +27 21 201 0025