Consistently voted by the likes of Condé Nast and Travel + Leisure as one of the Top 10 cities in the world, not to mention one of the most beautiful and liveable, Cape Town is on the must-see list of most travellers. From cosmopolitan cafés, trendy neighbourhoods, award-winning wine estates and historic museums, to the iconic Table Mountain and the southernmost tip of Africa, where two oceans meet, this is without a doubt one of the world’s most captivatingly beautiful cities.
Are you planning a visit to Cape Town and not sure where to stay? Well, look no further. Here are 10 perfect places to stay in Cape Town.
Explore the Waterfront
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, or V&A as the locals call it, is a hip and vibrant mecca that draws locals and tourists alike with its trendy shops, heritage sites, museums, bustling markets, chic cafés, world-class restaurants (my favourite is the always-buzzing Willoughby & Co) and of course the Cape Wheel with its unparalleled views of the Mother City.
The V&A is also home to some of Cape Town’s most sought-after luxury hotels, the majority of which boast beautiful views of the harbour, ocean, city bowl and/or the world-famous Table Mountain itself.
If you’re looking for that wow factor, the One&Only Cape Town is a must. With breathtaking panoramic views of the marina and the property’s small private island in front and the mighty mountain behind, this ultra-luxurious resort has everything you need, and so much more. Here, the focus is on personalisation and guest delight. Although it is a large property, with 131 gorgeous suites, you are welcomed with such sincerity and treated like royalty from the moment you check in to the moment you (begrudgingly) return to the real world.
Whatever work or sightseeing you need to do, postpone it and hit the spa. It is world-class. Ask for Kersha or Trifosa and treat yourself to the most relaxing, therapeutic massage treatment. You’ll be escorted to the relaxation room, with its ‘detox and indulge’ theme. We’re talking a room full of treats, from healthy yoghurt bowls, gluten-free muffins and fruit skewers, to crunchies, Lindt Lindor chocolate balls and champagne. Detox or indulge, the choice is yours, then take your snacks into the dark, peaceful relaxation area where you can unwind on your own recliner bed (complete with an electric blanket) and just enjoy some guilt-free relaxation. Before you head back to your luxury suite, be sure to pop into the sauna and aroma steam rooms and the vitality pools.
Later, sip on a cocktail (I recommend the Mudita, a delicious blend of rum, lime, toasted coconut, pineapple and a hint of chilli) and enjoy some live music in the super cool Vista Bar & Lounge, then take your pick for dinner. Sample modern cuisine with a local twist at Reuben’s Restaurant, named after local celebrity chef Reuben Riffel, or opt for some of the best sushi you’ve ever tasted at the world-famous Nobu. This is the first and only of MasterChef Nobuyaki Matsushisa’s global empire to launch in Africa.
The rooms are elegant, the food is divine, the spa experience is so indulgent and peaceful, and the staff are warm and friendly. You won’t want to leave.
Images © One&Only Cape Town.
And then there’s The Silo Hotel. Oh my goodness, this is pinch-yourself opulence. It is Cape Town’s hottest new property, and yes, it deserves all the hype it’s getting. The six floors of unashamed luxury and colourful, quirky charm are built in the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex and sit directly above what will soon become the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). Set to open in September, it will house Africa’s largest collection of contemporary African art.
The Silo appeals to art lovers, architecture addicts, style junkies, bucket list travellers and anyone that loves a bit of unapologetic, over-the-top luxury. At first glance, some might question its bold exterior, but take a closer look and you’ll see that the 82 pillowed glass windows are an architectural masterpiece, each with 56 geometric panels of glass that boast breathtaking 360° views of this astoundingly beautiful city. And once you know exactly what lies behind those 82 twinkling windows, you’ll love them even more.
Each of the 28 luxury suites has been individually designed to have its own eccentric charm. As you walk in, the views literally take your breath away. Like a prism, the sunlight reflects through the one-of-a-kind, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the suite is bright, beautiful and beaming. There are state-of-the-art motorised blinds, but I can’t imagine who’d actually want to block out that extraordinary view.
The double-story suites give a sense of space, the chandeliers glitter in the abundant sunlight and the beds are so comfortable they hold you for ransom when it’s time to wake up. Just hit snooze and enjoy that Cape Town view from your bed. The bathroom is a work of art in itself – even the elegant standalone bathtub has an incredible view.
The rooftop terrace (for guests only) is a chilled area with sun loungers and access to an infinity pool-with-a-view. The increasingly popular rooftop bar, half of which is open to the public, is the perfect place to mingle with Capetonians and catch the glorious Cape Town sunset. I could go on and on … this is a bucket list hotel.
Images © The Royal Portfolio.
I’ve heard people call it the Cape Graceful, and that’s an apt description for this grand old dame of the waterfront. The sophisticated Cape Grace Hotel, now celebrating its 21st anniversary, is a refined and elegant escape from the constant buzz of the waterfront. Boasting both harbour and mountain views, its Cape heritage and nautical décor and original antiques reflect the hotel’s prime location. It’s as if you’re walking through a maritime museum, each floor with its own distinct theme. You can spend hours just browsing the prized artefacts that, together, form South Africa’s largest privately owned antique collection. Each chandelier, too, is unique. I just love the grand chandelier in the stairwell just behind the concierge, which was inspired by a ship’s anchor.
This gorgeous property has all the comforts a luxury traveller needs, from its tranquil spa, heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room, to its fitness studio complete with personal trainer on request, right down to its relaxed library, classic high tea overlooking the marina, jovial bar and restaurant, and of course those breathtaking postcard views.
Venture down to the ever-popular Bascule whiskey bar, where you can browse the impressive 400+ (!) whiskey collection. The whiskey tasting is a must, and you can also enjoy an informative wine tasting and learn all about the Cape’s local and award-winning wines.
This is one of Cape Town’s most renowned properties and the Cape Grace family will welcome you with a smile and treat you like royalty. Here, it is the unexpected surprises that make for a perfect stay … perhaps it’ll be a sinfully-sweet welcome platter with chilled champagne on arrival so you can toast the sunset from your suite, or rose petals leading to a bubble bath, or perhaps even a handwritten note at turndown complete with some Amarula and white hot chocolate on a stick. You will be spoiled and you will definitely want to return.
Images © The Cape Grace Hotel.
At the Queen Victoria Hotel, the focus is on luxury and simple sophistication. Each of the 3 suites and 32 luxury rooms has its own individual design and ambience. Classic hues of slate grey, pearly white and deep purple, mixed with the occasional olive green, are used throughout and each sumptuous suite boasts its own picturesque view of either the harbour or the mountain.
A royal home away from home, this quaint boutique hotel is conveniently tucked right into the heart of the V&A. Just a stone’s throw away from all the action and excitement of the waterfront, yet it remains secluded from the buzz of activity, making it a peaceful haven at the end of a long, adventure-filled day.
Soak away your troubles in the large bathtub, with its Charlotte Rhys amenities, or opt for the gloriously refreshing rain shower. Whether you dine in or venture out to a nearby restaurant, it is the small touches, such as a moreish cheese platter at turndown, that make this elegant property a favourite among travellers.
Images © Newmark Hotels.
Live like a local
The whole concept here is to arrive as a guest and live like a local. These four exquisite properties, each completely and refreshingly different from the other, are the perfect mix of local and luxury. Here, you really can feel like a Capetonian, frequenting all of the locals’ favourite haunts, yet still, savour the creature comforts of being a cherished guest in a luxury hotel.
Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel and More Quarters Hotel are two sophisticated gems in a small, family-owned collection of boutique hotels and lodges around South Africa. Situated in a leafy suburb, just steps away from the buzz of Kloof Street, these two elegant sister properties sit conveniently back-to-back, a mere one block away from each other.
Claiming prime location in one of Cape Town’s trendiest neighbourhoods, guests at both of these properties can enjoy everything that Kloof Street has to offer, from its world-class restaurants and popular bars to its chic boutique stores and antique shops. The city’s popular Museum Mile is also within walking distance.
Described as “hip and historic”, Cape Cadogan is small and intimate, with just 15 opulent suites, each with its own unique design. Conveniently camouflaged from the hustle and bustle, it is a luxurious hideaway that boasts a modern feel, yet retains its original 19th-century classic charm.
Just around the block, the 18 luxury apartments of More Quarters are perfect for families or small groups of friends that want just the right balance of hotel indulgence and the added convenience of having their own luxuriously-appointed space where they can choose to cater for themselves.
And those creature comforts I mentioned? Well, every afternoon at both properties, a complimentary platter of delicious high tea treats are set out in the hotel’s cosy living room, where you can quickly indulge before heading out on an afternoon walk. Every evening, too, there are canapés and fireside port and sherry, to warm you up before dinner (and if you crave a different poison of choice, there is a well-stocked honesty bar as well). It’s a great place to meet and chat with other guests or quietly browse the international newspapers next to a crackling fire.
Back in your suite at turndown, you are pampered with subtleties that remind you that you’re in a luxury hotel. Hot water bottles are tucked into the bed sheets to keep you warm, weather cards are placed on the bed with the next day’s forecast and a handmade toffee sits on each pillow. From the plush robes, bedside mats and slippers, right down to the Africology amenities in the shower, this is definitely a far cry from living like a local!
Images © More Quarters & Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel
Pop across the street and tucked away like a most welcome and unexpected oasis, is the opulent Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. Deep in the heart of Cape Town’s vibey Kloof Street, this grand hotel with its gracious buildings, sheer luxury, towering palm trees and nine acres of sprawling lush gardens, really is a hidden gem. Walking down bustling Kloof Street, you almost wouldn’t know it’s there, which certainly is part of its charm.
Step off the street into a calm, verdant oasis that boasts all the luxuries of a world-class resort, from its heated swimming pools, state of the art fitness centre, tennis court and tranquil spa, right down to its classy restaurants and unmatched afternoon high tea. Seriously, the table of irresistible treats is so decadent, you’ll definitely want to stop and have a taste!
At the Mount Nelson, you really feel cocooned in secluded luxury, yet the excitement of Kloof Street is mere steps away. Be sure to take the “If Trees Could Talk” self-guided walk around the gardens that date back 170 years. Wander amongst the tall Canary Island date palms, cycads and strangler fig trees (and spot the enviable Everard Read sculptures that are scattered throughout) and take in the staggering views of the world-famous Table Mountain.
Aside from the renowned high tea, with its tempting cakes and savouries, foodies will love the Chef’s Table. This unique culinary experience involves a private table in the heart of the hotel’s kitchen, where guests can interact with the chefs and watch their delectable three-course lunch or five-course dinner being prepared. It is fun, festive and certainly out of the ordinary.
Tea lovers, be sure to ask for Craig Cupido, the soft-spoken, self-taught tea connoisseur. Take a seat in Churchill’s writing room (yes, Winston Churchill once stayed here as a war correspondent) and let Craig select the perfect tea to suit your mood.
An unexpected twist amidst the old-world colonial charm, be sure to check out the galaxy-themed Planet Restaurant and Planet Bar. Look up at the twinkling ceiling, shooting star chandelier and dangling mobile of the solar system; and be sure to look down at the intriguing carpet that was designed using celestial images from NASA. Upmarket and classy, yet quirky and fun, it’s the perfect spot for a nightcap next to the fire.
It really is no wonder this magnificent property has enticed guests from around the world for 170 years.
Images © Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.
A few blocks north is The Taj Cape Town. Part of the award-winning luxury hotel group, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, one can expect opulence, elegance and top-notch service. It is the ideal blend of heritage, luxury and warm Indian hospitality in the heart of Cape Town.
The hotel occupies two historic buildings: the old Reserve Bank Building (built in 1932) and the BOE Building, or Temple Chambers, which dates back to 1896. Just walking around this elegant property gives you a sense of grandeur and old-world charm, with its graceful arches and pillars, Persian carpets, marble floors and enormous flower bouquets.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the street below and slip into a hot bubble bath in the elegant marble bathroom. Now, this is a bathtub with a view! Soak off the city and enjoy a perfect view of Cape Town’s beloved flat-topped Table Mountain.
From Tuesday through to Saturday, guests can join a complimentary 90-minute informative city walk with an expert local guide. This is such a great way to discover Cape Town and learn all about its vibrant history, admire its astounding beauty and explore its hidden gems.
And when you return to the hotel after your day’s adventure, be sure to book yourself in at the Jiva Grande Spa, which embodies ancient Indian spirituality and wellness. Unwind with a pampering massage treatment and float in the relaxation pools before venturing out for a night on the town.
Images © The Taj Cape Town.
Can’t get enough of those ocean views
Its location is dramatic and well worth the (very) short drive it takes to get out of the city centre and up onto the picturesque mountainside. It really feels like you are no longer in Cape Town, but rather in a secluded ocean hideaway with all the luxuries you’d expect, and more.
Flanked by the world-famous Table Mountain and its mighty Twelve Apostles, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is all about unashamed luxury and pampering. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and truly unwind in the most peaceful setting, high up in the mountains, and gaze out at the moody Atlantic ocean.
Showcasing the fantastic vineyards nearby, there is a complimentary wine tasting experience every Tuesday evening, and every Thursday evening, guests can sample new craft beers and ciders (also complimentary). And if you’re heading out on a brisk mountain walk, the chefs will lovingly prepare you a delicious, hearty picnic basket to take with you.
Be sure to book a relaxing treatment at the award-winning spa and make ample use of both the hot and cold hydrotherapy plunge pools, as well as the calming floatation tank. Outside, the heated Atlantic pool faces its namesake, whereas the unheated Rockpool looks up toward the mountain.
The Leopard Bar is the perfect place to linger over a few sundowners and snacks as the sun dramatically sets over the ocean. If you’re craving some city life, there is a complimentary shuttle to Camp’s Bay and the V&A Waterfront. Or you can opt for a quiet, romantic dinner in the hotel’s classy Azure Restaurant or the more casual Café Grill.
There are in-room DVD players for cosy movie nights (and popcorn deliveries), or you can put your feet up in the 16-seater cinema and tuck into some popcorn, sweets, milkshakes or hot chocolate. Oh, and you’re definitely in for a peaceful sleep. With the waves lapping in the distance, you can actually place your own personalised order from the pillow and soap menus, to ensure the utmost in comfort.
Images © Red Carnation Hotels, South Africa.
Another iconic and award-winning property, the beloved Ellerman House is a Cape Town institution. Once the desirable home of wealthy shipping magnates, Sir John and Lady Ellerman, this sophisticated Cape Edwardian mansion, now a boutique hotel, is perched on the slopes of Lion’s Head and boasts magnificent views not only of Bantry Bay and the Atlantic Ocean below but also of its 100-year-old terraced garden.
Everywhere you look, it is evident that this exclusive property is a true celebration of local South African art, wine, cuisine, gardens and hospitality. Art connoisseurs from around the world flock here to admire the famous art collection and purchase uniquely South African works for their own collections. Now celebrating its 25thanniversary, Ellerman House has selected 25 talented local artists to profile. Guests can join the property’s art guide for an insightful private tour of the art collections, or they can wander through the contemporary art gallery at their own pace on a convenient iPad tour.
Each of the 11 rooms, 2 suites and 2 three-bedroom luxury villas have been designed with its own unique charm and character, yet one thing remains the same, and that is the extraordinary view. And the same goes for the three stylish dining terraces, where relaxed lunches and romantic dinners all showcase that glorious ocean vista.
Be sure to pop into the extraordinary wine gallery, which houses an impressive 7 500-bottle collection of South Africa’s finest wines. Discover its fascinating terroir wall, with earth samples collected from 100 wine estates, as well as the brandy maturation wall and the champagne cellar. Of course, the obvious pièce de résistance is the ultra-cool carbon fibre corkscrew wine rack, which stands in a temperature-controlled environment and holds another 1 500 bottles.
A few insider tips: if you’re feeling peckish, slip into the Pantry for a guilty pleasure – this small room is filled with delicious homemade treats to tuck into. Oh, and did you know that &Beyond guests visiting Ellerman House get a complimentary brandy and chocolate tasting?
With its jaw-dropping views, superlative service, impressive art and wine collections and sumptuous suites, this is definitely another one for the bucket list.
Images © Ellerman House.