“This cape is the most stately thing we saw in the whole circumference of the earth”, wrote Sir Francis Drake in 1580 when he discovered the Cape Peninsula. Almost 500 years later, the area – with its incredibly beautiful coastal and mountainous scenery – is home to one the planet’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town (Kaapstad in Afrikaans and Ikapa in Xhosa). Known as the Mother City because it was the first to emerge in South Africa, the city owes its multicultural personality to a diverse range of people and events, from the indigenous Khoi and San peoples to local African tribes, from the European explorers to slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar and Mozambique, and from apartheid to democratic freedoms. Blessed with some of the world’s most astonishing city beaches, jaw-droppingly beautiful mountains, rolling hills of vineyards, spectacular drives and tons of trendy bars and fine dining restaurants to choose from, it is hard to imagine a more picture perfect city destination (and frankly, you won’t find a better one). Combine this with some of the best accommodation and service on offer anywhere in the world and you are left with one of the hottest city destinations you will ever visit. To assist you in finding your ideal accommodation in the Mother City, I have compiled a top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Cape Town
10. TAJ CAPE TOWN
Taj Cape Town is a luxury hotel set in the vibrant heart of downtown Cape Town, offering guests a combination of refined Indian hospitality and an authentic Cape Town experience. Occupying two historic buildings, it retains the architecture and many meticulously restored interior features of the original South African Reserve Bank and the old BoE building – formerly the Temple Chambers, built in 1890. Seventeen new storeys house suites, guestrooms and residences with magnificent views of the Mother City and the iconic Table Mountain. This five-star hotel is ideally located in the centre of historic Cape Town at the entrance to the famous pedestrian precinct, St George’s Mall. Its prime site ensures that the Taj Cape Town is perfectly situated for those looking to discover authentic Cape Town.
Hotel website: Taj Cape Town
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, welcome gift, daily breakfast breakfast, a 90 min city walk with a professional tour guide, wine tasting for two guests in the Wine Gallery once during stay, early check in, late check out, and complimentary WiFi; for stays of 4 nights or more guests will additionally receive a ZAR500 food credit in either Mint restaurant or the Twankey Champagne & Tapas bar, once per stay).
TAJ CAPE TOWN
9. 52 DE WET
Residing in Bantry Bay, an exclusive Cape Town suburb, 52 De Wet is located high up, on the slopes of Lion’s Head Mountain, where you are sheltered from the famous Cape Doctor, the strong south-easterly wind that blows through Cape Town from October to March, clearing up the city’s air and taking the edge off the summer heat. There are just seven rooms at 52 De Wet, in keeping with the style of a private guesthouse rather than a commercial establishment, and all of them offer open views of the South Atlantic ocean, stretching further than the eye can see. Each room is uniquely decorated, and some of the them come with private plunge pools. Delicious food – and wine – is an integral part of the 52 De Wet ethos, created from fresh, local, seasonal produce. There’s also a small spa on site.
Hotel website: 52 De Wet
8. TINTSWALO ATLANTIC
One of Cape Town’s hidden gems and best kept secrets is Tintswalo Atlantic, a 5 star, award-winning boutique lodge nestled at the base of the ocean-facing Table Mountain National Park just 20 minutes from town. Sitting at the foot of Chapman’s Peak, the lodge is the city’s only property with direct beach access (although it’s a pebble beach) and enjoys panoramic views of the picturesque Hout Bay harbour, the dramatic Sentinel mountain peak, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Each one of the hotel’s 11 glass-and-timber suites has a unique design and is named after an island (e.g. Cousine Island, Zanzibar, Robben Island, etc …) paying tribute to the island’s nature and the cultural heritage. The Tintswalo Atlantic dining room provides a picturesque, cosy setting to enjoy beautifully-presented and delicious cuisine.
Hotel website: Tintswalo Atlantic
7. CAPE VIEW CLIFTON
Cape View Clifton is a four-storey, family-owned hotel that clings to the hills on Cape Town’s Atlantic coast, boasting the most phenomenal views in town with uninterrupted, heart-stopping panoramas of Camps Bay’s white beach backed by the Twelve Apostles mountain range. The property, which balances between a luxury guesthouse and a small-scale boutique hotel, has 9 accommodations, with 3 deluxe rooms, 2 junior suites and 4 apartments. Interiors are light and airy with an eclectic mix of contemporary and Colonial African style, although it are the unsurpassed sea and mountain views that will take your breath away. The apartments have private outdoor decks with jacuzzis and BBQ facilities. If you’d prefer not to dine out every night, the staff will be glad to offer you a delicious simple homemade meal served informally on the pool deck.
Hotel website: Cape View Clifton
6. BELMOND MOUNT NELSON HOTEL
Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel has long been regarded as the hotel of choice of cultured global travelers since 1899, because of its romantic heritage, warm professional service, timeless style and a magnificent setting. Enjoying a convenient location at the foot of Table Mountain, and just a short stroll from downtown, the resort offers the perfect combination of leafy tranquility and contemporary buzz. The hotel features a sprawling garden, complete with two heated swimming pools, rolling lawns, a palm lined avenue and secluded Rose gardens which lend themselves to romance. Six distinctive accommodation wings offer a variety of 201 individually decorated, elegantly appointed rooms and suites. No two rooms are exactly the same, and each annex offers unique views, mood and style.
Hotel website: Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, welcome gift, daily breakfast breakfast, afternoon tea for two served once during stay, free use of business center , complimentary WiFi, early check in and late check out).
5. CAPE GRACE
Cape Grace provides the perfect V&A Waterfront setting for discovering Cape Town’s enviable location, which offers both centrality and privacy combined with unrivaled views of Table Mountain, the yacht marina and a working harbor. The essence of Cape Grace is an intrinsic desire to understand guests’ needs so as to ensure truly memorable visits. Each one of the 120 guest rooms and suites is unique and has its own story to tell. Even the standard rooms are spacious here, with separate sitting areas, desks, complimentary high-speed internet, and cushioned headboards. Reminiscent of a glamorous Mediterranean yacht moored in the bay under the watchful gaze of the iconic Table Mountain, guests can also relax in an elegant and distinguished outdoor area that overlooks Cape Town’s acclaimed yacht basin.
Hotel website: Cape Grace
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a 50 minute spa treatment, complimentary mini bar, and complimentary bottle of wine).
4. ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN
This urban chic resort, located in an enviable spot in the city’s fashionable Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, set a whole new standard for South African hotels when it opened in 2009. The hotel overwhelms its guests upon arrival with breathtaking Table Mountain views through the massive windows of the spectacular lobby. There are two sections in the hotel, one being the Spa Island (built on a man-made island and centered around a lagoon-shaped pool) with 40 suites and the other the Marina Rise with 91 rooms. All rooms and suites feature oversized bathrooms and are adorned with fabrics and furnishings recalling the warm, muted tones of Africa’s savannahs. Dining at One&Only Cape Town is a pure delight with two of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, Rueben’s restaurant, and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s Nobu restaurant.
Hotel website: One&Only Cape Town
Other accolades: One&Only Cape Town features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most luxurious city hotels, the world’s best urban resorts, and the best luxury hotels in the world.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, welcome gift, daily breakfast breakfast, $100 USD resort credit, early check in and late check out).
3. THE SILO
The Silo Hotel is a magical space towering above the V&A Waterfront surrounded by the natural wonder of South Africa’s Mother City. The Silo has been built in the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex occupying six floors above what will become the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), which will rival the likes of the Tate Modern in London, MoMA in New York and Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. From the outside, the greatest visible change to the building’s original structure is the addition of pillowed glazing panels, inserted into the geometry of the hotel floors, which bulge outward as if gently inflated. By night, this transforms the building into a glowing lantern or beacon in the harbor. The Silo hotel has 28 lofty rooms, including a spectacular one bedroom penthouse.
Hotel website: The Silo Cape Town
Other accolades: The Silo features in my list of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2017.
2. THE TWELVE APOSTLES HOTEL & SPA
Enjoying the most magnificent location on the Cape Peninsula, the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is a grand contemporary hotel in Camps Bay, just a short drive from the center of Cape Town. Nestled between the unspoiled natural beauty of the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range in the Table Mountain National Park, and the Atlantic Ocean, the award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection. The boutique hotel, member of the prestigious portfolio of Leading Hotels of the World, offers 70 guest rooms, styled with light colors and dark-wood accents that give an eclectic touch through African and nautical twists. Other unique features include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking views from the legendary Azure Restaurant and The Leopard Bar.
Hotel website: The twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Other accolades: The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa also features in my top 10 lists of luxury hotels with private helipads and South Africa’s most exclusive hotels.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, free breakfast, tea by the sea for two people, a luxury one way airport road transfer, early check-in and late check-out; for stays of 4 or more nights guests also receive a scheduled helicopter transfer for two to the V&A Waterfront).
Review: read here my review of the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa.
1. ELLERMAN HOUSE
Ellerman House is a superb 5 star hotel in the premier Cape Town suburb of Bantry Bay. The true splendour of the hotel rests in faithful preservation of its historical architecture, combined with discreet hospitality and efficient service reflecting the ambience experienced only in the comfort and familiarity of home. Ellerman House consists of 13 bedrooms and 2 three-bedroom villas, all individually crafted to provide a fabric of fantasy, luxury and pure indulgence. Sweeping views across the Atlantic Ocean are enjoyed from the private balconies and the lawned terraces surrounding the large, heated swimming pool. Exquisite meals created by acclaimed international chefs are displayed to perfection on china, silver and crystal. The hotel also has two of the finest collections of South African original art and vintage wines.
Hotel website: Ellerman House
Other accolades: Ellerman House also features in my top 10 list of South Africa’s most exclusive hotels.
Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, a paired chocolate and South African Brandy tasting with a sommelier, and 10% discount on first spa treatment).
Review: read here my review of Ellerman House.