Is This A Hotel Club Lounge Or Restaurant?

I’m in Cape Town at the moment, which is stunning. I haven’t been to South Africa in about 15 years, so this is my first visit as an adult, and I love it. Cape Town reminds me a lot of Queenstown, New Zealand.

I’m staying at the Westin, given that I’m a Starwood loyalist and also have a targeted promotion for double elite qualifying nights at the moment, so it was a no brainer.

While the Westin feels a bit sterile, it’s still a beautiful hotel on the whole. The Westin has great views of Table Mountain, and I got a nice room upgrade.

Westin-Cape-Town-1

However, I’m really damn confused by the club lounge. Let me start by saying that the staff in the lounge are beyond spectacular; they really couldn’t be friendlier.

While club lounge quality varies greatly around the world (just compare the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and Le Meridien Abu Dhabi), I’ve never seen a concept quite as confusing as this one.

The club lounge is on the 19th floor, with beautiful views.

Westin-Cape-Town-Club-Lounge

The first day I visited the lounge around lunchtime, and the host said “are you joining us for lunch?”

“Um, yes, I guess?”

I figured I’d sit down, have a coffee, and maybe some fruit or something from the daytime snacks. I assumed “lunch” was an expression, and didn’t actually mean a meal.

Well, I was wrong. I was presented with a menu with prices and everything. I ordered a coffee, and wasn’t charged.

I came back in the evening and ordered a glass of wine, and was presented with some olives and chips. The sauvignon blanc was excellent, and I was constantly offered refills.

Westin-Cape-Town-Club-Lounge-4

However, there’s no food available otherwise. So I once again asked for a menu, and ended up ordering a delicious curry dish. In a way it’s nice to be able to order a real meal in a club lounge, given that the drinks are complimentary.

Westin-Cape-Town-Club-Lounge-3

Then I ordered a cappuccino, and also a dessert.

Westin-Cape-Town-Club-Lounge-2

When I got the check I was charged for the curry, dessert, and cappuccino, but not the wine. Okay, I get they charge for food since that’s on the menu, but I was surprised at being charged for a cappuccino.

Ultimately the prices are very reasonable. My curry dish, dessert, and cappuccino came out to ~$15. But still, I just don’t get the system!

Bottom line

In theory I like the concept of being able to pay for a “real” meal in a club lounge, because it’s basically a way to have a nice dinner with free drinks. At the same time, I’d rather that offering didn’t completely replace the standard food spread available in a lounge. No matter which policy a club lounge has, I just wish all lounges would provide a welcome letter explaining the offerings, hours, etc., rather than it being a guessing game.

Has anyone encountered a club lounge like the one at the Westin Cape Town?

Comments

  1. This same situation happened to my wife and I at the Ritz Tokyo.

    They bumped us to club level and the “club” allowed visitors to have full meals at breakfast and lunch as well as (seemingly) unlimited drinks at happy hour. We ended up eating all of our meals there and saving a fair bit of money, and the food and drink were outstanding.

  2. Did you ask the hotel manager? I guess you should get an official explanation if there is a lounge and how it works just to avoid surprises.

  3. This actually happened to me at the Andaman in Langkawi. We got upgraded to a club room, and the club had barely any free food, but a menu.

    SADLY, the club lounge, I believe, has closed in the past three years or so

  4. Get out of the hotel and experience Cape Town- it’s a fantastic place and goo only have a short stay!

  5. Why on earth would you have dinner in a chain hotel in Cape Town when the city offers some of the finest dining in the world? And, as an aside, that looks expensive for South Africa.

  6. I stayed at a random Sheraton outside of Orlando a few years back that had a similar concept. I didn’t have a meal in the lounge but the food looked good.

    Personally (especially when traveling on business) i’d rather pay for a restaurant quality meal vs have free crappy food. Especially since they’re already comping free ‘snacks.’

  7. Get out of the hotel and experience Cape Town- it’s a fantastic place and you only have a short stay!

  8. I have to agree with some of the previous comments about getting out of the hotel and experiencing Cape Town. It is a FANTASTIC city. You might be good at stringing loyalty program points together, however IMHO you are coming up short on experiences on the ground. Look forward to reading about what you get up to outside of the hotel! 😉

  9. I stayed there and generally only went to that lounge for the breakfasts, which were included. The breakfasts were spectacular and delicious.
    That said, get out and enjoy Cape Town. There’s more to the city than a chain hotel dinner. Camps Bay has some terrific restaurants right on the water that are marvelous and very reasonable. Go!
    And then go to wine country and drive down to the Cape of Good hope. So much more to see in Cape Town than some boring old (sterile) chain hotel.

  10. I don’t get why people spend so much effort traveling to such a far off place….then have dinner at the hotel.

    Blows my mind every time,

  11. Agree with the others about dining in Cape Town – go out and pig out! Fantastic food at equally fantastic prices (by US standards anyway).

  12. My #1 tip for the Cape Town area: rent a car and go to Vergelegen winery. There are only a handful of palaces in Europe that match the grounds there. Absolutely stunning.

  13. One of the most awkward questions to ask, for me, in a nice hotel or F class is, “Well, is it free?”

    It sounds so classless, but it is often a legitimate question. But that’s why we have travel bloggers… 😉

  14. Lay off of lucky and how he spends his time. This isn’t a vacation for him. This is his JOB

  15. Guys, Ben’s job is to review hotels and airlines! He isn’t reviewing places!! That why he spends time in the club lounge and ordered the food. Altough the lounge is a safe and quite place where he is probably working as well. You are doing a great job Ben! Thanks!

  16. As @stvr says, if Ben doesn’t go the lounge and try it, how is he going to include it in his review?

  17. I would like to know what’s in Westin’s club lounge. I’m glad Lucky provided a review.

  18. I have stayed several times here.

    The Executive Club on 19 used to be exclusively a lounge but now it is a combination. You just have to tell the host at the entry what you are there for (Plat happy hour or dinner).

    Plat Happy hour will get you escorted off to a side room ( still with great Table Mountain views)

  19. Never had a situation like that, but a couple of times I’ve ordered room service and ask that it be brought to the lounge. Figure that way, I can augment my ordered food with whatever was available in the lounge.

  20. Weird blast of comments all saying ‘get out of the hotel’ with almost identical wording. Did this post get picked up by some Cape Town food blog or something?

    Anyways, thanks for the review Lucky, and for specifically reviewing the lounge and not a random local restaurant.

  21. Ben: my daughter and I leave for CapeTown this Saturday. We are also staying at Westin. Any chance of meeting you? If not, one more question…I don’t have status with SPG, could you help us get lounge access? 🙂 Hey, I had to ask!

  22. Was just there in March, same Plat upgrade but had to ask for it. Had exact same thoughts re the lounge! The wine selection is actually very good. But no food at all except for chips, olives. An overall decent stay, but service could definitely be improved for housekeeping, spa and restaurant downstairs for breakfast. And they should offer some sort of complimentary food in the lounge. PS the cheap prices have nothing to do with this westin, but are everywhere due to the exchange rate.

  23. the Rand is so cheap vs the dollar right now, get out there and eat at some fantastic places in Cape Town. It has a fair number of really well regarded restaurants, at super cheap prices for those paying in $’s.

  24. +1 for thanks for the lounge review.

    Lucky, I think it’s time for you to post the link to the very good piece you had a while back about your job.
    (Hint for those who didn’t see it: Lucky does leave the hotel, but leaves those reviews to the many excellent travel bloggers out there. He’s found his niche and it’s high end flying and hotels. THAT’S what you’ll see reviews of.)

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