Top of the world – view from Table Mountain, down to Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa is a wondrous, bucket-list type of destination, filled with luxurious hotels with outstanding views of both the natural, and manmade, city sights. Cheaper air travel and increased security has made it way more affordable and safer in recent years for foreigners to visit. Yes, Cape Town has had a chequered past, but I can’t say I felt less safe there than in any other major city I have visited. The culture and history is rich with intrigue, and educating yourself before you go will mean you will get much more out of your visit. Why not read my guide of things to do in Cape Town, for more info?
We flew to Cape Town with KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines. Our flight times to South Africa were great: an early start and arriving at Cape Town in the evening. There is only one hour of time difference so no jet lag which, especially if you are travelling with children, is a big bonus. Also, Cape Town is a malaria free zone, so you don’t need to take anti-malaria tablets – check current advice before travelling.
So, now we’ve established that Cape Town should be high on your list of places to visit – where would I recommend to stay? If, as they say, it’s all about ‘location’, then The One&Only, Cape Town, scores top points for being siutated on Cape Town’s harbourside, with stunning views of the iconic Table Mountain.
1 – The One&Only, Cape Town – perfect for elegant dining
Close to the elegant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the heart of modern day Cape Town, the One&Only Cape Town (pictured above) is a fantastic base from which to explore the array of activities Cape Town has to offer.
The seven-storey Marina Rise part of the One&Only Cape Town houses 91 luxurious rooms and suites, while the Island part of the hotel, a literal island accessed by a footbridge, has a further 40, as well as the resort’s Spa. All rooms in the Marina Rise enjoy unspoiled views of the awesome Table Mountain.
A Marina Table Mountain view room
I found that the Island rooms are well-suited to families, as this is where the hotel’s pool is, complete with cafe bar. The Spa offers tailored treatments and a programme of fitness activities and spa treatments; including ones especially designed for children – so no one will feel left out
Typical Cape Town food is a fusion of African, Portugese, Dutch and Malaysian flavours. At the One&Only, Cape Town, Reuben’s restaurant, headed up by celebrity South African chef, Reuben Riffel, offers a selection of unfussy food. I loved the tender steak, served with an expert choice of wine brought to us by the sommelier, and the super-chocolatey deserts. The spectacular wine loft here houses over 5000 bottles of South Africa wine, and with the numerous vineyards in and around Cape Town, it is a fitting, and impressive, collection.
Other dining options at the hotel include a Nobu restuarant: the first that world-class masterchef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has opened in Africa. The foody fare there includes classically styled Japanese dishes fused with South African seafood.
Isola is an Italian style restaurant located on the Island at the hotel, and the gorgeous Vista Bar and Lounge, in the centre of the lobby, serves an elegant selection of afternoon tea and sophisticated cocktails at night. It also has the most incredible views of Table Mountain, through a panoramic window.
2 – The Cape Grace hotel – perfect for families
The Cape Grace hotel, (pictured above, on the left hand side) also located on the edge of the Cape Town Victoria & Albert waterfront, is a luxury, and family-friendly hotel, situated centrally for exploring the many activities and sights of this South African city and local attractions. Even though Cape Grace is centrally located, it is still peaceful and quiet in the evening, and 24 hour security guards patrol the entire waterfront.
Situated on the working harbour and flanked on one side by luxury apartments and yachts, Cape Grace sits almost in the shadow of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain. Arriving at night, we drew back the curtains in the morning to discover an uninterrupted view of this magnificent sight from our window…
The elegant rooms are decorated to reflect the culture rich history of Cape Town and each room has an authentic South African antique in it – ours was a wooden child’s chair. All rooms have luxurious spa-style bathrooms, iPod docks, spa toiletries and separate dressing rooms. Some rooms have interconnecting doors, or multiple bedrooms.
For children, Cape Grace prepares your room with child-friendly essentials, and gives out fun activity packs upon arrival. You can let the hotel know what you will need and they can provide cots and child-friendly toiletries, pint-sized robes and even cuddly toys. You can also, essential equipment such as car seats and swimming aids. Other child-friendly bonuses are:
- Story time in the library
- Gingerbread man painting
- Heated swimming pool
- Colouring-in and activity books
- Children’s DVDs
- Nintendo Wii and X-Box
- Special kids turndown with African bedtime stories and gingerbread men
- Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, books and games
The Signal restaurant at the Cape Grace hotel hosts the breakfast and evening meals. There is a tasting menu or a la carte menu for the evening, which are filled with fragrantly spiced dishes. My favourite dishes were seared scallops served with pork belly, and a fillet of Chalmar beef served with goats cheese arancini. Additionally, the Library at the hotel serves a delicious-looking afternoon tea. Although, we filled up so much at breakfast, we couldn’t eat anything until dinner! You must try the pancakes with caramelised apple and smoked pork belly for breakfast – one of my favourite breakfasts I’ve had anywhere in the world.
With a view of Table Mountain, the hotel’s spa offers the perfect place to relax. From Kalahari Signature Massages, QMS Medicosmetics anti-ageing Treatments to a fully-equipped gym, you can even indulge in a special couple’s massage. I enjoyed a Rolling Sands massage, which was a top-to-toe massage with warming Kalahari oil. Including a scalp massage, it eased all my aches and pains.
It is also worth noting that the Cape Grace hotel offers a complimentary chaffeur service up to 10K away from the hotel.
Visit The Cape Grace hotel online for more information and to book
3 – The Twelve Apostles Hotel – perfect for a glamourous beach retreat
A member of the Red Carnation Hotel group, The Twelve Apostles particularly appealed to us because the Cape Town attractions we wanted to visit were still accessible, while its idyllic location – at the edge of the city’s popular Camps Bay (pictured above) – is perfect for the peace and quiet we were also after.
The boutique-style hotel is named after its location: it is situated in front of the Twelve Apostle mountains, which form part of the Table Mountain National Park. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and the hotel itself is situated right at the sea’s edge. We stayed in a sea-view room, which gave us the benefit of being able to watch the sun set from our own balcony.
Beautifully decorated in neutral tones, the two-level room, with a sitting-room leading to our large balcony, is the perfect retreat to return to after busy sightseeing and beach days out. Peak whale-watching season in Cape Town is from July to October, and you might be lucky enough to see one from your balcony. We didn’t see any whales, although we did spot some playful dolphins splashing about, not far from the coastline.
The hotel offers state of the art facilities including a 16-seat cinema and helipad. There are mountain walks that start from the hotel, which make use of its unique location. The rock pool and sun deck both have a fantastic view of the mountains behind. Baskets of sun cream are at hand beside the pool and the pool area was never crowded. There is also a spa at the hotel, one of only five Leading Spas in South Africa.
We had a rather delicious cheeseboard by the pool during the day, but the foodies highlight here has to be the wine tasting ‘flight’ with dinner at the hotel’s Azure restaurant, (pictured above), which consisted of three glasses of recommended South African wine and with which I enjoyed a Cape Malay curry. The menu is a mix of African, Malaysian and Dutch influences, reflecting the country’s heritage. Before dinner we enjoyed a drink at the hotel’s renowned Leopard Bar where you can watch the sun set over the sea – an unforgettable experience. You can come here for a drink, even if you aren’t a hotel guest.
Visit The Twelve Apostles Hotel online for more information and to book
Feeling inspired? Why not read my guide of things to do in Cape Town, for more info?
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