It makes sense for an author of romance books to stay in a romantic hotel. This author, however, is staying in the most romantic hotel in Cape Town, South Africa: the Mount Nelson Hotel.
Everything from the columns of its famous Prince of Wales gateway and the driveway lined with tall palm trees, to the opulent gardens, reminds me of a luxurious holiday resort in Tahiti or Fiji. The weather is a scorching 31 degrees centigrade, adding to the surreal feeling that I've stepped through a time-space portal straight into the Raffles hotel in Singapore. OK, unlike in the Raffles, there are no peanut shells on the floor in the bar. And yet the similarity lingers when I discover how many famous writers have graced the Mount Nelson Hotel with their presence: Sir Laurens van der Post, Dame Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
And no wonder. The hotel is a slice of South African history, and the colonial atmosphere an inspiration. Whether you write spy thrillers or love stories, you simply yearn to set your next novel in this pale-pink palace.
I can picture my heroine as she takes a moonlit dip in the secluded outdoor pool, taking her rose-scented afternoon tea under the crystal chandelier in the lounge or printing a letter in the hotel's business centre as she gazes at the ever-changing Table Mountain... er, hang on, got to check whether the business centre has a view of the mountain.
My next book will definitely be set here.