When I first received the invite to spend a night at Clico Boutique Hotel in Rosebank, I wondered if there was any point considering that I live a mere five minutes away. But then I gathered my thoughts and replied, “yes, of course!” – and I’m so happy I did. I don’t know what the initial me was thinking – a night away from home, sipping bubbly in a lush, sun-drenched courtyard, being treated to a three-course wine-pairing dinner prepared by head chef Marnus Scholly and a late-night movie from the comfort of a fabulous king-sized bed – what’s not to love?
Officially opened by the warm and welcoming proud owner Jeanette Schwegmann in 2006, Clico is tucked away on the quiet end of Sturdee Avenue in the leafy, hip-and-happening suburb of Rosebank. Housed in a 60-year-old Cape Dutch house, it’s an alluring mix of old and new, from the original Oregon pine floorboards and antique inlaid-wood side tables from Morocco, to the modern, whimsical sculptures by Anton Smit.
I arrived at Clico shortly after 14h00 on a Friday afternoon. The first thing I liked was that there was secure, off-street parking. I checked into my room, the newly renovated Room 8, where I set about making the most of my carefree afternoon by indulging in the aforementioned bottle of champagne. The décor of Clico is luxurious but not extravagant – think colours like warm, earthy browns, creams and soft greens combined with modern design that complements the old-fashioned house, gently juxtaposing old and new in a manner that you’ll find relaxing and familiar.
Each of the nine rooms boast a mini bar, feather-soft cushions, extra-length bed, flat-screen TV with a range of DSTV channels, desk-cum-dressing table, air-conditioning and under-carpet heating. There’s also furniture that’s been custom-made by Dilly Lill’s, trendsetters in hotel furnishings, as well as exotic fabrics and freshly cut flowers. Luxury at every turn! Business services include telephones, unlimited Wi-Fi and scanning and photocopying facilities to keep you in contact with the outside world while in a tranquil environment.
As someone who tends to head straight to the bathroom on arriving in a hotel room, the sumptuous Victoria + Albert freestanding bath didn’t disappoint! An open glass shower with patterned tiles, designer taps, light fittings that double up as heaters, complimentary Charlotte Rhys toiletries and the softest white towels you’ve ever snuggled into made one of the most impressive boutique hotel bathrooms I’ve seen.
After an indeterminable amount of time (no watching the clock here!), I meandered through the hotel and back to my room to change for dinner. On my way I discovered the common lounge area, which has a fully stocked ‘honesty bar’ from which you can help yourself while cooling down on the patio or beside the pool in summer, or while warming up in front of a log fire in winter. After freshening up, I then walked down to Clico Restaurant, an intimate restaurant adjoining the hotel that specialises in contemporary fare with a French twist. The beauty of staying in a hotel with a restaurant on site is that you don’t ever have to get into your car.
The restaurant has a very special ambience thanks to a sophisticated neutral interior with a fire for cold nights and large doors opening onto a small walled garden for daytime dining. But the best thing has got to be the comfortable upholstered seating, which encourages relaxed dining and next-level food appreciation. Between the six-course tasting menu with wine pairing and a compact menu of seasonally appropriate dishes, I opted to tuck into the latter.
The evening proceeded to be a pleasant surprise of uncomplicated, comforting flavours in the form of spectacularly presented dishes. I started with the steamed mussels with a saffron velouté and sourdough toast on the side, accompanied by a glass of Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc. For mains, I tried the sea bass served on a bed of lemon risotto, shimeji mushrooms, courgette and corn, perfectly paired with a glass of Yardstick Chardonnay. This pairing was definitely a highlight! I ended the meal with the decadent crème caramel with almonds, berries and salted caramel, paired with a glass of Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc Noble Late Harvet. There was no other way to describe this dessert other than art on a plate.
After a long and peaceful sleep despite a massive thunderstorm during the night, Saturday morning started slowly, as the best Saturdays always do. A cup of freshly brewed coffee in bed swatched in white linen and the comfiest gown was a definite highlight of my time at Clico. In fact, it took me quite a while to find the will to drag myself out of my cosy nest for breakfast. A crisp late summer morning awaited me back at the restaurant with brilliant blue skies and the musty smell of damp leaves that always reminds me of the tree-lined streets of Rosebank.
Tempting baked pastries and a delightfully presented fruit platter from the buffet arrived at my table before I’d even placed my coffee order. For my hot breakfast, I ordered the Clico Healthy Breakfast. A bowl of spinach, rocket, cherry tomatoes, halloumi, two poached eggs and basil pesto, it was delicious and hearty. I was also thrilled to learn that the restaurant is open to the public for breakfast as well on all days of the week. I’ll definitely be returning for this guilt-free morning meal.
Before heading back to my room to pack up my belongings to make the 11h00 checkout, I went to check out Clico’s newly built function facility, which is unique and ideal for smaller and more intimate events like EXCO-type meetings, small conferences and workshops. The sliding doors open onto the manicured garden, allowing lots of natural light and fresh air to flow into the venue. The function room is fully equipped with all the necessities, including a data projector, an electric projector screen and background sound. What’s more, the conference chairs are adaptable to allow for arms and no arms as well as detachable writing tablets. Clico offers a variety of Day Conference Packages that offer all that’s needed for a successful meeting day.
Although my escape from reality at Clico was less than 24 hours, it felt so much longer and I left feeling revived and ready. It also reminded me that even a short, local getaway is always worth it. It’s true: a change is as good as a holiday! This was a fabulous change that I plan to do again soon.
27 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg
011 252 3300 or 011 493 2697
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