The Lounge is located in the lobby area on the ground floor and provides a convenient area for hotel guests and visitors to convene. During busy times, it might be a bit of a thoroughfare and less tranquil than you might wish.
Stepping up to the raised Lounge, I was tickled by the unusual carpet which appears as though a large mammal of indeterminate species has wondered drunkenly across it, leaving pug marks in beige and cream in its wake.
The African theme persists in the faintly leopardy upholstery of the exceptionally comfortable little armchairs.
These are worth a special mention as some restaurants seem to have employed a wily strategy of making people comfortable enough only for the duration of a meal, whereupon their backsides go numb and they are forced to vacate their table. At Meikles, you can settle in for serial coffee consumption in total comfort.
The Lounge was quiet, with only a couple of tables occupied, and we were greeted with a friendly smile from Timothy, and shown to a quiet table.
Timothy having been dispatched to ferret out a cappuccino and a latte, we took a stroll through the menu. The Lounge clearly caters for all hours of the day, and tastes both sweet and savoury.
There was everything from muffins and scones to a range of toasted sandwiches, light meals such as spinach and feta quiche or steak baguettes and a platter of assorted bitings to share. You can also have the high tea, which promises to be a feast of cakes and sandwiches. Timothy asked us whether we would like “something to chew” and we gave our order.
While waiting a little while for our drinks, we took in the atmosphere (quiet and deliberately low-lit) and the surroundings. Amid the trappings of a contemporary African hotel, there are clues to the heritage of the place and framed black-and-white pictures on the wall show the dining room of Meikles in the 1920s and the streets of early Harare from a time when the mail was delivered by coach and horse and gentlemen wore sizeable moustaches and severe side partings.
Our coffees arrived and proved to be well-made.
Close on their heels came a basket of assorted mini-pastries and a toasted sandwich. The pastries were delicious: soft, fresh and still warm from the oven, served with clotted cream and jam.
The sandwich was fresh and made with brown bread baked in-house, and Timothy, who clearly is not devoid of humour, tried to persuade us that the eggs were also laid by Meikles’ own flock of chooks.
A fresh, spritely looking little salad garnished the plate (how often do you get a scrap of depressed lettuce and a wedge of tomato that looks as though it’s been lurking around all week?). Although simple, our food could not have been better prepared or presented.
The Meikles Lounge is a comfortable, convenient spot for a quick bite if you’re in town or looking for somewhere pleasant to meet. It’s worth noting that there is no WiFi here though.
There is enough on the menu for most to find something that appeals, and perhaps the only (and very minor) criticism one might level is that it is not the most wildly imaginative.
Another little whinge might be that some of the menu items seemed pricey for what they are (a simple toasted sarnie for US$8 and coffees for US$3), although others are pretty good value.
That said, you are guaranteed a friendly welcome, solid service, good quality, tasty fare and that is not to be sniffed at. And not to forget the most comfortable chairs in Harare.
You can enjoy pastries and a coffee for around US$8 per person and a light meal from US$10-14 per person.
Meikles Hotel, Harare
Expect to spend US$8-$15 per head