15 on Orange review

Introduction
African Pride Hotels is the luxury hotel brand of the Protea Hotel Group. The Crystal Towers Hotel in Century City is also an African Pride Hotel. They are designed to be modern and luxurious. It is apparent that no expense has been spared (eg. extensive Volokas marble flooring, 20 000 Murano crystal links in the bar), although whether the money has been spent wisely is not as obvious.

Location
15 on Orange is located in Gardens, a suburb of the Cape Town central business district. This is useful for business people, and particularly convenient for government employees as it is close to parliament and several other government buildings. Hotels in town often have a problem with parking but 15 on Orange has more bays than rooms so that will not be an issue (but you will pay for the parking).

First Impressions
15 on Orange is a little confusing on arrival. The front entrance does not house the reception, only the concierge desk. You need to make your way up two flights or take the elevator to the 1st floor to check in. While disconcerting, it’s not challenging at all. What is challenging, however, is trying to find your way back to you car later on. I resorted to the valet parking service to save myself the trouble. This strange layout continues into the common areas, where a first time visitor will struggle to know how to access the restaurant.

The staff came across as friendly and competent. Although there seemed to be a communication breakdown between the front desk and the restaurant as my dinner reservation change was not conveyed to the correct people.

Facilities
There is a business centre with several cubicles containing PCs connected to the Internet. There are some conferencing rooms, one large presentation room and two smaller boardrooms. The hotel has a spa for those needing to de-stress. The pool is situated on the roof, although it gets very windy up there and the view is of the city, not water, which feels strange. There are some shops currently under construction but I imagine these will cater for the various needs of the guests.

The hotel also has its own spa. I did not have any treatments but did have a tour around the facility and it seems to have all the necessary equipment, etc.

Rooms
There are 129 rooms, categorised into standard (41), pod (4), 2 bedroom (4), deluxe (66), superior (11) and disabled (3). I spent a night in a standard suit and another night in a pod suite. The rooms are quite spacious. The pod suite has an open plan bedroom bathroom which is quite unusual, I quite liked it but it’s not very private (toilet and shower have doors).

The rooms have high quality finishings and furnishings. They also have some great features like a workstation with a plug point for your laptop, and an iPod dock and free wireless internet. Again, a great feature for business people. Other memorable features were the large flat screen TV with a good selection of channels, as well as a selection of DVDs which you can watch at your leisure (more available from reception on request). Air conditioning, extra length king size beds, hairdryer, quality bedding, coffee & tea station and mini bar and safe (big enough for a laptop) were some of the additional features.

The bathrooms were also quite spacious, modern and pleasant. I liked their choice in soaps and shampoos, good quality stuff.

Restaurant
The main hotel restaurant is called Savour, but there is a coffee shop for lighter meals as well as a menu available at the Judges bar if you need a snack or even a snack platter. Dinner at Savour was remarkably expensive, my partner and I shared a bottle of wine and enjoyed three courses and the bill came to approximately R1000. At those prices I was expecting some of the best food in Cape Town, it wasn’t. I did not drink at the Murano bar (which is reserved for guests, while the Judges bar is open to visitors), but I hear that the cocktails are very expensive, around R90 for some standards. The food & beverage manager informed me that they were busy repricing the cocktail list but that the cocktails would still be above R70.

The restaurant is situated in the hotel lobby. It does manage to retain some atmosphere but it is quite distracting as people walk to and fro around you. The service was adequate, but uncoordinated as we had several waiters come over to ask us the same questions several times.

The breakfast buffet spread was lovely, but a full English breakfast is priced at R185 which is quite heavy. The rest of the a la carte options had no prices attached, I would be afraid to order them.

Conclusion
While there was mention made of ‘family suites’, 15 on Orange is definitely geared towards business people. It does not have a relaxed atmosphere and I certainly couldn’t picture kids running around the lobby.

The room prices (around R3000 per night per room) and bar/restaurant prices indicate that 15 on Orange is one of the best hotels in Cape Town. I don’t believe it is, in fact the restaurant will attract no outside diners with that value proposition. In this price range you have a selection of top hotels available to you.

One thing which was of great concern to me is that during my tour of the hotel there was not one mention of eco initiatives. It’s a recently constructed building and yet it seems that no thought was given to natural light or temperature control. There seems to be no awareness or interest in environmental practices in the running of the hotel either. Every room we went into had the lights on even though it was not being used. The lobby was well lit by the magnificent glass wall at the end, and yet all the lights were on in the lobby. 15 on Orange creates the impression that luxury and environmental awareness are mutually exclusive and I believe that is a mindset that cannot continue.

Snag list

The soap dish in the shower doesn’t drain
The chair for the desk in the room is too low and not adjustable
Wireless Internet did not work, they had to provide me with a voucher

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8 Responses

  1. natalie says:

    Hi Dax,

    thanks for this review. I think the pictures say it all; those colour schemes are really aggressive – it does not look like a place i would want to spend time in, even if on business. Two weeks ago i took advantage of a special of Protea Hotel Fire&Ice. It’s only 3 star and their winter special is dirt cheap, and although fearing the worst, i was actually pleasantly surprised with the service and the hotel. There were some snags, but price/quality must be taken into account. By the way, they were very busy with mostly business people (age group 26 – 40) so that also adds to the vibe. Its a fun, no-nonsense place that leaves you with some spare cash to go out in town – if you’d rather spend money on good food & wine then on expensive hotels. If you do go for the better hotel, then the Sheraton Grand at the CTICC is still my favourite. The Spa on the top floor is a winner!

  2. Martin says:

    really nice review Dax – I’ve been wanting to go for a bit. I have to agree with Natalie, the Westin (previously Sheraton) is also my favourite when it comes to urban luxury – not many people know of the fantastic spa on the 19th floor with that awesome lap pool overlooking the harbour. mmm

  3. Jonnieza says:

    Great review- covered the essentials as well as most practical considerations for a guest staying at a hotel.

    Keep ’em coming!

  4. Dave says:

    Good review though thought you were quite lenient…The African Pride ‘brand’ is a bit of a myth in my opinion, like ‘Protea’ it is really just a logo slapped onto whatever ‘so-called 5*’ hotels are willing to pay the required annual management fees! No consistency at all across the brand in terms of service or hardware proposition (something which brands are supposed to provide their guests to some degree or another)…

    Have heard that the chairs are all copies of the originals so wonder how long they will last before they start falling apart and then have to be replace. May have been why your chair didn’t adjust too!!

    Would seem they have tried to pitch themselves against One&Only & Taj, but location isn’t great at and not enough business travelers these days are willing/able to fork out R3000/night . As far as I know the developers weren’t hoteliers but property developers who thought developing a hotel would be as easy and sadly fell short in understanding that what is required to develop a hotel is very different from a block of apartments…

    Really do hope that it manages to get its act together and break-even but my concern is that the money has already been spent and there is little that can be done (other than slash prices) to try make it work…

  5. Dax says:

    Thanks for your feedback everyone.

    @Natalie The modern, funky theme is not for everyone, but some people like it. It’s not my preference but I try to make my reviews more about the actual experience than my preferences.

    @Martin I Googled the Westin, you should try that as the results are interesting. I can’t seem to locate their official site, only sites which will book your stay for you. Weird.

    @Dave That’s some interesting inside info there. It will be interesting to see how they do compared to the other 5 star options nearby. I stayed at the One & Only recently and there is no comparison (and they are offering a special at R3000 per room for SA citizens!). I must say 15 on Orange was quite busy while I was there, looked like mostly government and business people.

  6. Gareth says:

    Honest Review.Had dinner and drinks etc and you are spot on.Average food,small portions and over priced.Drinks in the bar are also a rip.Definitely priced for the overseas tourists.

  7. Nika says:

    WE HAVE BEEN TO THE SPA, VERY EXPENSIVE. IT IS CALLED THE SUNTRA SPA BUT IT IS MORE A BEAUTY SALON.

  8. Joe says:

    There’s a lot more falseness in your review Dax! 2 people, 3 courses, wine and hopefully a tip,only R1000 – Thats cheap by 5 star standards, please compare apples with apples Dax. I’ve been going to the Murano Bar for a very long time, in fact since day one, and I havent come accross any cocktail priced more than R60. They serve premium brands and thats why paying R40 – R60 for a cocktail is just fine. Compare these prices with any other Hotel Bar and you would find that they’re alike, apples with apples Dax. Breakfasts in Hotels cost R185 and more, have you done a competitor analysis lately? Did you go to Taste of CT this year, I wonder why Justine Drake would have chosen them if you review was factual and true? I read an atricle the other day about their R25m upgrade and refurb, it must be a popular place making stax of money that can afford to spend that kind of money in this financial climate?! Perhaps its time to redeem yourself and write and decent review on 15 on orange, start with their Sunday Lunch buffet, thats if you can get a spot!