Bo-Kaap Ho­tel

Visi - - Bo-Kaap Hotel -

woman am­bles over to our ta­ble to say hi, then wan­ders off again. She’s wear­ing her py­ja­mas and still looks a lit­tle sleepy. “She ar­rived to stay for a few days and never left,” con­fides a smil­ing Gail Behr, owner and pro­pri­etor of Dorp ho­tel. It’s a lit­tle vi­gnette that’s en­tirely fit­ting given the estab­lish­ment’s char­ac­ter. It doesn’t feel like a ho­tel… You walk in through the front door, pass a small en­trance hall, and en­ter a large draw­ing room. There’s a New Or­leansy feel to it. Muted av­o­cado walls, big dusty-pink so­fas, old brown ta­bles piled with books, large green plants and soft 1920s jazz oc­cupy the large dou­ble-vol­ume space. It looks estab­lished. Ven­er­a­ble. Com­fort­able.

“It’s the fun­ni­est place. I don’t know what Dorp is,” ob­serves Gail tac­itly, ex­plain­ing her guest’s re­laxed de­meanour. “It’s not re­ally a ho­tel. Maybe it’s a club.” And she would know what she’s talk­ing about – Gail was the orig­i­nal owner of Plet­ten­berg Bay’s cel­e­brated The Grand Café and Rooms.

What it re­ally feels like is her home – a big, ram­bling old man­sion that wel­comes her friends to en­joy its easy­go­ing charm and breath­tak­ing views of Ta­ble Moun­tain. There’s a grav­i­tas and a soul to this prop­erty that one usu­ally only feels in an old build­ing that, over time, has grown and moulded around its oc­cu­pants.

Ex­cept it’s not that ei­ther. Sit­u­ated high above the Bo-Kaap, just be­low the Noon Gun at the very end of Sig­nal Hill, Dorp is brand new, built from the ground up on the foot­print of the old Noon Gun Tea Room – an un­oc­cu­pied site that had long fallen into dis­re­pair.

Just how Gail and her team man­aged to do that – cre­ate a 30-roomed ho­tel with the char­ac­ter of an estab­lished prop­erty – is the real story. And yes, that’s also hard to pin down. For one thing, it didn’t in­volve ar­chi­tects. Men­tion that pro­fes­sion and Gail of­fers “maths and greed does not equate to art”, among some fruitier phrases. In­stead, she asked in­te­rior de­signer and dec­o­ra­tor Greg Mel­lor to sketch build­ings based on the ex­ist­ing ar­chi­tec­ture. “We had a re­spon­si­bil­ity. If it was go­ing to be on top of this hill, it had to be sym­pa­thetic to the com­mu­nity and to the sur­round­ing nat­u­ral beauty,” says Gail. “It needed to be sim­ple. There’s no ‘de­sign’ here. We’re both sen­ti­men­tal, and we both have a love for old build­ings.”

“For Dorp to be what it needed to be,” adds Greg, “you can’t think gener­i­cally you can’t think prac­ti­cally. No two rooms are the same. Even­tu­ally we worked with a lo­cal draughts­man who drew up the build­ing plans.”

An in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor Greg may be, but he left that side en­tirely to the feisty pro­pri­etor: “Gail has her own won­der­ful aes­thetic that I wouldn’t dream of in­ter­fer­ing with.” That’s not en­tirely true: it’s clear they share a sim­i­lar whim­si­cal, ir­rev­er­ent and some­what nos­tal­gic sense of de­sign. Most items were ei­ther col­lected over time, sourced at auc­tions or recre­ated. The se­cret sauce, of course, is how they are all cu­rated and as­signed – and that’s Gail Behr’s tal­ent. Rather than any kind of in­te­rior planning, you get a sense that she’s cho­sen and placed items be­cause they just feel right. And it’s cre­ated a rather spe­cial ho­tel – one where you can wan­der down in your jim-jams and have a chat with the pro­pri­etor over morning cof­fee.

“IT’S THE FUN­NI­EST PLACE. I DON’T KNOW WHAT DORP IS. IT’S NOT RE­ALLY A HO­TEL. MAYBE IT’S A CLUB." – GAIL BEHR

RATHER THAN ANY KIND OF IN­TE­RIOR PLANNING, YOU GET A SENSE THAT THE OWNER HAS CHO­SEN AND PLACED ITEMS BE­CAUSE THEY JUST FEEL RIGHT.

“WE HAD A RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY. IF IT WAS GO­ING TO BE ON P OF HIS HI , IT HAD TO BE SYM­PA­THETIC TO THE COM­MU­NITY .”

– GAIL BEHR

Bo-Kaap Ho­tel

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE All kitchen ap­pli­ances are from Smeg; floors in the break­fast bar (and draw­ing room) are sim­ple painted pine; most of the ta­bles and chairs through­out the ho­tel were sourced at auc­tions, while the book­case is from Pri­vate Col­lec­tions. OP­PO­SITE The view from the draw­ing room to the break­fast bar. Ta­bles were sourced at auc­tions; chairs are from Pezula In­te­ri­ors.

The vin­tage doors and tran­som win­dows in the draw­ing room were sourced by Pri­vate Col­lec­tions. So­fas and all softs were made up by Pezula In­te­ri­ors in fabrics from House of Hack­ney.

ABOVE The Rose House suite has its own kitchen, his-and-hers bath­rooms, a steam room and a pri­vate pool. BE­LOW The Com­pound fam­ily sec­tion fea­tures stu­dios, kitchens and seven bed­rooms.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE The spec­tac­u­lar view of Ta­ble Moun­tain from The Moon fam­ily suite; the Rose House bath­room fea­tures a Hy­drofire wood-burn­ing fire­place; The Moon suite’s kitchen with dis­tressed tile blocks that were found at a lo­cal tile shop.

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