A where and why guide to the leading hotels in South Africa's crown jewel - the beautiful seaside city of Cape Town
02 Jul 2020
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A where and why guide to the leading hotels in South Africa's crown jewel - the beautiful seaside city of Cape Town.
Choosing where to stay in Cape Town can be a confusing process to say the least. Despite being a small city, it has a huge range of different areas to stay, all with their own distinctive features and reasons to be based in them. Equally, there is a great range of property styles as well, from owner-run boutique hotels to well-known international brands, isolated gems overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and historic buildings in the very heart of town. Our guide to the 10 best places too stay will give you an idea of where to choose depending on what you are looking to get out of your stay in the Mother City, from world-class dining to elegant spas, beautiful pools and everything in between. A visit to Cape Town is an integral part of any South Africa Holiday and this guide should help you to make the right choice.
Found in the heart of the city, a short walk from the iconic Company Gardens and with stunning views up to Table Mountain, Belmond Mount Nelson is inarguably one of the best hotels in Cape Town. Uniquely for hotels within the city there is plenty of outside space, with the vast gardens helping to make the hotel an oasis of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Two swimming pools, a tennis court and manicured lawns are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the Cape Town sunshine.
As well as the Company Gardens the many excellent restaurants of Long, Kloof and Bree Streets are just a short daytime stroll or taxi ride away, with shops, galleries and museums all found there as well. Slightly further afield the delights of the V&A Waterfront await, as well as cosmopolitan Woodstock, Cape Town’s thriving art district. Table Mountain is easily accessible from the hotel whilst driving over Kloof Nek is a convenient shortcut to the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay. With spacious, beautifully styled bedrooms, a wonderful restaurant and one of Cape Town’s best-known watering holes – The Planet Bar – the Belmond Mount Nelson is the ideal choice if you are looking to be in the very heart of the action.
Cape Town’s vibrant V&A Waterfront is home to a number of outstanding hotels, but few offer the level of luxury that the gorgeous One & Only Cape Town does. There is a very modern feel to the property, with large bedrooms boasting incredible views, not least those that look out to Table Mountain. The main bar is wonderfully spacious and the perfect spot for evening drinks after enjoying a sumptuous dinner in one of Africa’s finest restaurant, Cape Town’s outpost of the world-famous Nobu restaurant group.
Perhaps the most striking feature though is the large swimming pool, which sits in the very heart of the property and is the perfect place for relaxing and soaking up the Cape Town sunshine. Poolside cabanas add an extra touch of luxury to the pool experience, with staff on hand to serve drinks and snacks as you sit back with a good book and enjoy the special ambience that the pool offers.
Nestled at the foot of the eponymous rock formations in the side of Table Mountain, a short drive from the upmarket suburb of Camps Bay, the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is one of Cape Town’s best-known hotels and a paradise for those looking to be pampered. The bedrooms are all uniquely designed and come with all of the amenities one could wish for – try booking those with a sea view, the balconies are a great place for morning coffee or sundowner drinks.
There are two restaurants, the outstanding Azure and the more laid-back but equally enjoyable Café Grill which is perfect for quick lunches. From the rear of the property guests can access a series of walking trails along the mountainside, with plenty of stopping points along the way. Guests can order picnic lunches to take with them and it really is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. The spa is undoubtedly one of the best features of the hotel, making it the perfect spot to go to be pampered and enjoy an extensive range of treatments. Found underneath the hotel, it offers single and couples treatments using all-natural products. This is a true gem of a hotel and a must-stay for visitors looking to be pampered to their hearts’ content.
Cape Town is regularly voted as one of the most desirable holiday destinations in the world and, as such, attracts huge numbers of repeat visitors, with many returning year-on-year to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of the city. For many of those visitors, the hustle and bustle of the city is something they like to escape from time to time, with the beautiful suburb of Constantia the prime alternative choice. Housed in a series of historic gabled Cape Dutch buildings, the beautiful Cellars Hohenort is the perfect place to get away from it all and relax for a few days. Rooms and suites are beautifully designed, wonderfully spacious and command stunning views out over the surrounding wineries and to the rear of Table Mountain. The gardens are very secluded, perfect for afternoon strolls, with a sparkling swimming there to escape the heat of the Cape afternoons.
Their flagship restaurant, The Greenhouse, is regularly voted amongst the best in the country and dinner here is a must-do during any stay. With wineries nearby that can be visited on a whim, taking the need to forward plan out of the equation, adding to the sense of peace and relaxation that a stay at the Cellars brings.
Nestled on a quiet quay in the V&A Waterfront, overlooking the Cape Town yacht marina and with beautiful views back to Table Mountain, Cape Grace has for decades epitomised what is great about Cape Town hotels – small and chic with impeccable service and great food. From above the hotel takes the appearance of a cruise ship, narrow and elegant with a pool and decking area at the rear, which has beach club vibes and is a great spot to relax and soak up the sunshine. There is a strong maritime feel to the hotel’s décor, with plenty of brass ornaments recovered from ships, beautifully decorated rooms and artwork that gives a nod to Cape Town’s proud maritime history. The outstanding Signal Restaurant is one of the great features of the hotel, offering a wonderful fine dining experience in beautifully curated surroundings.
Locally sourced and seasonally inspired menus are complemented by the finest Cape wines, with guests also able to head down in to the extensive wine cellar to choose their own bottle and even dine there should they wish. The iconic Bascule Whisky bar is a Cap Town institution, offering a choice of over 400 whiskies from around the world. Some discerning guests even have their own whisky “locker” at the bar, storing their favourite tipple for when they visit. A small outdoor terrace is perfect for lunchtime or sundowner drinks, whilst the low ceilings and cosy atmosphere make the bar perfect for late night drinks with live music.
The 28 bedroom The Silo is one of Cape Town’s most innovative and unique hotel designs. Appropriately it occupies the top 6 floors of a converted grain silo in the heart of the V&A Waterfront, which has been transformed into the Zeit Museum of Contemporary African Art – MOCAA. The bedrooms are all uniquely designed, with modern touches blended seamlessly with the antique furnishings which are painstakingly sourced by owner and designer Liz Biden.
Domed windows offer dramatic city and sea views, with their unique design one of the most striking features of the hotel. The top two floors of the property are home to its restaurants, terrace and swimming pool area which offer panoramic 360 degree views across the city towards Table Mountain, the docks that surround the hotel and the endless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The food is superb and their appropriately named Sky Terrace is a hugely popular spot to spend the afternoons relaxing, taking in the sunshine and enjoying the stunning views.
One of the great things about a visit to Cape Town is that you don’t have to stay in luxury hotels to get the best out of your stay. There are a huge number of smaller guesthouse style properties that, although they don’t have the facilities of their larger counterparts still have prime locations, amazing rooms and the little touches that make stays in them very special indeed. The charming Four Rosmead is a superb example of these smaller properties and can be found on a quiet residential street in an area known as Orangezeicht, tucked away in the shadow of Table Mountain.
The bedrooms have a light and airy feel to them, with all of the amenities one could wish for, including well-stocked mini bars. A small courtyard area outside is the perfect spot to relax in the afternoons and the salt water swimming pool is ideal for relieving the heat of a Cape Town afternoon. Inside there is a lovely lounge area decorated with locally produced artworks which are also available for guests to purchase should they wish. A member of the management team is onsite at all times and are on hand to help with any reservations that need to be made or advice that guests would like. For those who like smaller properties, this is a wonderful choice and one that we would heartily recommend.
Continuing the theme of outstanding smaller properties is the outstanding Kensington Place, which is also found on a residential road with stunning views over the city and also back to Table Mountain. The bedrooms have a very contemporary feel to them, with huge beds, deep grey carpets and balconies that offer glorious views down the hill and out to sea. Mini-bars, fully equipped en-suite bathrooms and plenty of storage space make it the ideal spot for longer stays and plenty of exploration of Cape Town. Despite being small in stature, Kensington Place boasts amazing service, with experienced management on-site throughout the day to assist guests with planning days out, booking restaurants for lunch & dinner, as well as recommending some of Cape Town’s secret spots for those looking to escape the crowds.
An agreement with a nearby Virgin Active gym means guests can work out to their heart’s content and, unusually for smaller properties, their on-site restaurant offers lunches and dinners in addition to breakfast, meaning no need to go out for dinner as you have all you need in the property. This really is a gem of a property and ideal for those who seek discerning service, but without having to stay in some of the larger hotels in Cape Town.
For many visitors to Cape Town, being by the sea is a number one priority. Away from the main part of the city, the upmarket suburbs of Bantry Bay, Clifton and Camps Bay are immensely popular with visitors and have a wealth of wonderful places to stay. Clifton is arguably the most desirable of the suburbs, with properties rarely coming up for sale and only a handful of plots still open for building. Cape View Clifton, a beautiful boutique hotel with apartments attached was built on the site of a beloved family home and offers one of the most luxurious places to stay on the Atlantic seaboard. The rooms and public areas are designed in the style of a traditional Cape Town beach house, light and airy with modern furnishings, floor to ceiling glass windows and private balconies that boast incredible sea views.
The sparkling swimming pool is a great spot to relax, take in the seascapes and Cape afternoon sunshine, with staff on hand to serve drinks and snacks as you relax. The bedrooms are ideal for couples who want a seaside retreat, whilst the larger apartments are superb for families who want to escape the city and have easy access to the beaches of Clifton and the chic restaurants and bars of Camps Bay. A simply gorgeous spot, this is a must-stay for lovers of contemporary Cape luxury.
Arguably the gold standard for hotels in Cape Town, Ellerman House is one of the most sought-after places to stay in the whole city. Indeed, it has been used as a setting for films, is home to an exclusive art and wine collection, as well as some of one of the leading chefs in the city – quite an accolade for a property containing only 13 bedrooms, as well as 2 beautiful villas which are a great choice for those looking for the ultimate in privacy and seclusion. In contrast to most other properties in the city, Ellerman doesn’t allow non-residents on to the property, meaning guests can be assured of a truly exclusive experience, whether they are relaxing on the sprawling lawns, swimming in the pool or dining in the incredible restaurant.
Bedrooms are beautifully designed with their own style and furnishings – the hotel is hugely popular with repeat guests with many choosing to re-book the same room for the same time of year as they check-out – a ringing endorsement of the quality that Ellerman House prides itself on. This is certainly a place to book well in advance of your stay, especially at peak times, but patience and flexibility in obtaining a reservation is amply rewarded from this standout hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.