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Meet you at Meikles

Meet you at Meikles

Artists painting the fabric for the presidential suite
Artists painting the fabric for the presidential suite

Growing up in the sixties and seventies, memories of Meikles are vivid, recollections of sumptuous teas, gourmet dinners, a family wedding and sparkling Christmases. I came from farming stock and a drive to Salisbury (now Harare) entailed the monthly grocery shopping and a special treat. ‘Meet you at Meikles’ was the norm for most of the farmers and their wives. I recall silver teapots, crispy white linen and an array of cakes that always left me wishing I could have more.

My own special memory is dinner at La Fontaine Restaurant to celebrate my 16th birthday. I can still remember the feeling of moving from childhood to adulthood – permission was granted for a smudge of blue eye shadow, a gentle brush of mascara and a new dress for the occasion. I remember the silver cutlery, the musical entertainment, my parents waltzing romantically on the dance floor, and the after dinner Tia Maria, permitted by my father, with a topping of cream. Spending a recent weekend in Meikles with my two teenage children provided a special opportunity to share memories and make new ones. As we checked in for our weekend I felt the old feeling again; I was in for a treat.

At the top of the list was dinner at La Fontaine. We were not disappointed with the newly refurbished restaurant; with its modern twists it still has not lost its graceful ambience. We relaxed into the atmosphere, confidences were shared, food was enjoyed; an evening not to be forgotten.

Accommodated in the deluxe rooms we were more than comfortable, in fact we were in luxury. From the soft furnishings, to the bathrooms clever touches are apparent. Whilst lying in the bath one can notice a subtle zebra chevron engraved into the black granite finishes. A nice touch. We feasted in the stylish Club dining area every morning. The teenagers were suitably impressed, their Meikles memories considerably upgraded from my youthful recollections. For me I was combining work with pleasure and the fast WiFi service made my weekend stress free.

I met with Kathi and Klaudia Weixelbaumer, a mother and daughter design team responsible for Meikles’s latest facelift. Conscious of the place that Meikles has in the history of the country, they have given her a modern look whilst maintaining her historic ambience. Meikles is now unmistakably African in a glamorous way.

Bespoke hand-painted fabrics and woven carpets with bold African themes flow throughout. The colour palette was taken from the Zimbabwean flag. Kathi Weixelbaumer told of the silver treasures that she brought out of store rooms which were polished to a high sheen and filled with roses. “There is a story behind every single item,” she said.

“We have repositioned Meikles in the market,” said Kathi. “We felt that Meikles had to be up there with the best in the world. As I sit here in this room (the Club dining room) we could be anywhere in the world because of the quality of the materials that have been used. A benchmark for the city of Harare has been set.”

Sitting having afternoon tea with my son in the downstairs lounge, I felt the chic international vibe, I noticed the diversity of people chatting quietly, pouring their tea from silver teapots. The saying ‘Meet you at Meikles’ is still current.

More from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (December 2013)

More from the Zambezi Traveller:
Harare Destination Profile