Putting the Trendy Back in Troglodyte

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Nicky Fur­niss Im­ages © Fo­rum Ho­mini Ho­tel

When I was a teenager and my brother and I ar­gued, my usual defin­ing blow would be to call him a troglodyte. At the time he did not know what it meant, so it left him with­out any re­tort other than, “No, you are!” In South Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage site, The Cra­dle of Hu­mankind, how­ever, the word troglodyte is a source of pride as it seems that our “cave dwellers” may have been the world’s first.

Per­haps the most fa­mous is the 2.3-mil­lionyear-old fos­sil Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus africanus, more com­monly known as Mrs Ples. But this fa­mous lady is a spring chicken com­pared to some of the other ho­minin fos­sils dis­cov­ered in the area, some dat­ing back as far as 3.5 mil­lion years, mak­ing them the old­est ever found. These are re­spon­si­ble for the heritage site’s name, as ar­chae­ol­o­gists have the­o­rised that this part of Africa could be the place where the ear­li­est in­hab­i­tants of humans first evolved. That makes them some pretty trend­set­ting troglodytes. Cave Dwelling in Style

If you, too, want to get in on the trendy troglodyte ac­tion, there is no bet­ter way to do it than by book­ing a stay at the quirky Fo­rum Ho­mini Ho­tel. Lo­cated in the Cra­dle of Hu­mankind, the ho­tel takes the theme “cave dwelling” to a whole new level, with each of its 12 rooms dug into a hill­side to recre­ate our an­ces­tors’ first homes. You will even find a warm­ing fire­place and some sta­lac­tite lights hang­ing from the roof. But that is where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end, be­cause sleep­ing on a hard stone floor is not all it is cracked up to be. In­stead, mod­ern cave dwellers can sink into soft king-sized beds, or – if the mood strikes – cud­dle up on fluffy rugs in front of the fire.

While most of the rooms look out onto the sur­round­ing bush in front, with a pic­turesque lake be­hind, there is no need to go all old-school with your ablu­tions. There is a large bath­tub to wal­low in – right next to the fire for those chilly Gaut­eng win­ters –

and, should you want some­thing a smidge more au­then­tic, you can opt for the large mo­saiced shower of which the shower head mim­ics the de­li­cious feel of rain­fall.

Var­i­ous strik­ing stat­ues and art­works dot­ted around the ho­tel pay ho­mage to our ho­minin an­ces­tors and to our evo­lu­tion as a species. My par­tic­u­lar favourite are a set of foot­prints that start ape-like, and evolve with each step un­til the fi­nal dis­tinc­tive Homo sapi­ens im­print. I love these not only be­cause they are fun to fol­low in an im­promptu game of hop scotch, but also be­cause they lead to the award-win­ning Roots res­tau­rant, en­closed in glass walls to al­low for beau­ti­ful views over the lake in front of it. A Whole New Take on Pa­leo Din­ing

While “Pa­leo” di­ets were all the rage sev­eral years ago, you need not worry that you will be fed like a troglodyte here. The fine-din­ing res­tau­rant Roots – which has been named as one of the top 10 in the coun­try in the Eat Out res­tau­rant awards on sev­eral oc­ca­sions – serves cut­tingedge cui­sine, exquisitely paired with some of the best wines in the coun­try.

The res­tau­rant is fa­mous for its four­course tast­ing menu lunches and six-course dinners, with each new dish eclips­ing the one be­fore it with its in­no­va­tive flavour com­bi­na­tions and pic­ture per­fect pre­sen­ta­tion. The food is also de­li­cious, so there is no need to feel in­tim­i­dated by the haute cui­sine-style food. In fact, when I was last there, sev­eral of the dishes in­cluded dif­fer­ent types of ed­i­ble “soil”, which is sure to have the troglodyte in you feel­ing very much at home. The var­i­ous cour­ses, while ap­pear­ing quite small, add up quickly and so there should be no fear that you will have to re­turn to your cave with a rum­bling tummy, like so many of our an­cient an­ces­tors.

In­stead you can am­ble back, as hap­pily sa­ti­ated as if you had a suc­cess­ful hunt­ing day, but mi­nus all the aches and pains catch­ing and cook­ing that kudu your­self would have en­tailed. You can then close your door – no breezy cave en­trances here – grab a night cap and sit next to your fire, imag­in­ing the fire­side sto­ries you will tell your own de­scen­dants of the time you, too, were a troglodyte.

For more information, please visit www.fo­rumho­mini.com. To book a ta­ble at Roots res­tau­rant, contact +27 11 668 7000.

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