My biggest travel mistake was skipping Cape Town on my first visit to South Africa, something I subsequently rectified and won’t repeat. From its Apartheid history to the lively waterfront, iconic Table Mountain, and as a gateway to the Wineland’s, this city combines California cool, European flair with a melting pot of African culture.
1. One&Only Cape Town
Conde Nast Traveler writes, “Cape Town’s only urban resort, One&Only has a prime Waterfront location next door to the Two Oceans Aquarium and is within strolling distance of the Water Shed, an indoor market filled with must-have local designer brands. Much more of a resort than a hotel, it has space in abundance and everything is dramatically scaled, including the reception lobby leading into Vista Bar and Lounge, the social heart of the hotel where cocktails, high tea, and light meals are served in great style. Triple-volume glass windows frame views of Table Mountain, and the air is infused with a distinctive woody room fragrance—something you remember instantly as a returning guest. The spa is a destination in its own right, situated on its own island, with 12 treatment rooms, private wet areas, and a yoga pavilion in the garden. Make use of the spa thermal suites, even if you don’t book a spa treatment. His-and-hers hydrotherapy facilities each have a vitality pool, aroma-steam room, sauna, ice fountain and experience showers.”
Forbes Travel Guide inspectors say, “As you enter One&Only Cape Town, breathtaking views of Table Mountain through floor-to-ceiling windows will capture your attention. Overlooking both the Marina and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the resort delivers a scenic urban escape. Though you’re just steps from the bustling South African metropolis, you’ll feel worlds away thanks to the waterways that snake around the property. Indulgences like a 10,000-plus-square-foot private spa island and the continent’s only outpost of acclaimed Japanese fusion eatery Nobu add to the air of exclusivity.”
Devil’s Peak Penthouse
The 13,724-sq.ft Devil’s Peak Penthouse offers four ensuite bedrooms, unobstructed views of Table Mountain, the Ocean and Harbour from the two private pools and outdoor entertaining spaces.
The study, library, gym and bedrooms are situated on the first floor of the Devil’s Peak, with the dining areas, lounges and kitchens on the second floor. Large, outdoor spaces await on both floors – each offering panoramic views. The first floor deck includes an outdoor shower, pool, bar, barbecue and catering area, long dining table and pool loungers. The second floor has a wrap-around terrace, also with its own pool, water feature, barbecue area, and seating; each space an entertainer’s paradise, and offering guests exceptional views of Cape Town.
More suites at One&Only Cape Town.
2. Ellerman House
Forbes Travel Guide says, “Sitting along the oceanfront in Cape Town, the exclusive Ellerman House exudes glamour. The cliffside setting affords dramatic ocean and mountain views — you cannot help but unwind with the lulling of the waves and the salty kiss of the sea breeze. Housed in a restored 1906 Edwardian-style mansion, the historic hideaway feels more like a grand beach house than a hotel. Step into a bygone era as this once-private residence enchants you with tales of yesteryear through antiques, original architectural details, and masterful works of art. Ellerman House effortlessly combines classic and contemporary design, creating a space that is not only elegant but also inviting. The hotel’s atmosphere is intimate, boasting only 13 rooms and two modern luxury villas, all providing exceptional attention to detail.”
Conde Nast Traveler adds, “Ellerman House is still everybody’s fantasy bolthole in Cape Town: minutes from the best beaches and the Table Mountain cableway, but close enough to the city and its dynamic food, art, and design scene. Sandwiched between Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Edwardian mansion looks like a private residence from the road and that’s exactly what keeps guests coming back. Owner Paul Harris takes enormous pride in his country—his impressive collection of South African art spans original works from the turn of the last century to current contemporary art. An informal tour of the collection with one of the in-house art experts is a fascinating lesson in the country’s socio-political history. Then there are the 7,500 bottles of rare and vintage South African wines in the cellar, and the indigenous plants sourced from Kirstenbosch (Cape Town’s botanical garden) in the 1.5-acre terraced gardens. Besides the main house, there are two modern, minimalist private villas built into the granite mountainside, as well as a wine gallery, and an excellent little spa.”
The 5,500-sq.ft Villa One features five en-suite bedrooms, and a private infinity pool with endless views over the Atlantic Ocean. The main living and entertainment area can be found on the second level, including a study, TV lounge, dining room and pool. The contemporary kitchen, complete with a scullery and fully-stocked cold room – the domain of your private chef.
More suites at Ellerman House.
3. The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa
The Telegraph writes, “Dwarfed as much by the mountain range after which it’s named as the blue ocean below it, the 12A hotel offers a dramatic seaside location, five-star service, a world-class restaurant and, in winter, unbelievable value for money – small wonder this hotel is always busy. The décor in every room is different, from the duvet to the lampshades, as is the size and layout. The color is broadly blues, greens, taupes, and whites. All rooms are very comfortable, the kind you are happy to come home to, with all the usual five-star facilities – but some of them are a little over the top for my taste. Lots of them have fabrics matching the wallpaper, and a layered look places mirrors and artworks on patterned walls. Bathrooms feature tubs, showers, and double vanities – all top-notch finishes.”
Conde Nast Traveler notes, “The coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno is a conservation area, so it’s undeveloped—just fynbos-covered mountains to one side, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean to the other. Until you round a curve in the road and catch your first glimpse of the Twelve Apostles, named after the Twelve Apostles Mountain range, that runs parallel to the coast, that is: Built into the contours of the mountainside, there’s a lot of hotel packed into its relatively small footprint. The rooms are flamboyant, old-school glamour, either facing the sea or the mountains.”
The 1,625-sq.ft. Presidential Suite occupies a corner of The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa with panoramic views of the Table Mountain National Park and the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Chandeliers imported from Italy offer a perfect counterpoint to the impressive collection of artworks by South African Masters that adorn the walls. There is master bedroom with an expansive en-suite bathroom, an open-plan eight-seater dining room with bar and lounge area – alongside a business-ready study and separate guest bathrooms. A private wrap-around terrace offers superb sea and mountain views, with sufficient space for hosting intimate cocktail gatherings or private dinners.
More suites at The Twelve Apostles.
4. The Silo Hotel
Forbes Travel Guide writes, “Towering above Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, The Silo Hotel is an artistic escape filled with a quirky, contemporary style and breathtaking panoramic views. Housed in the harbor’s historic grain silo, the innovatively transformed building (designed by Heatherwick Studio) does not give away much from the exterior. Industrial minimalism is juxtaposed by floor-to-ceiling, prism-shaped windows, hinting at the opulence that lies within. Style and creativity are at the fore at The Silo. Perched above the renowned Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the luxury hotel continues the celebration of design. Retreat to the sanctity of The Silo Rooftop, where a feast of oysters and local vino provides the ideal accompaniment to incredible.”
The Telegraph adds, “The Silo is decorated in magpie collector Liz Biden’s inimitable style: an eclectic mix of furniture, much of it made to her specifications, with button-down chesterfields under Egyptian chandeliers, shimmering Persian carpets and bold colour choices. It’s a comfortable, opulent nest that has drawn some criticism from those who would have preferred a more modern aesthetic. Décor aside, the pillowed glass windows – their shape apparently inspired by grain kernels and intended by Heatherwick to glow like lanterns above the harbor – are the most arresting feature of the hotel.”
At 2,021-sq.ft The Penthouse offers your own cinema room and a spa treatment room and the main bedroom has two walk in wardrobes and two marble bathrooms. There are two expansive balconies.
More suites at The Silo.
5. Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel
Forbes writes, “Painted pink in 1918 to commemorate peace and the end of World War I, Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town is one of Cape Town’s most talked-about landmarks. An icon, the hotel has welcomed many famous guests over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela and even the Dalai Lama. Glamour and elegance of a bygone era make this blush-hued beauty a fetching retreat. The hotel’s city-center setting belies the tranquility that awaits inside, with its plush interiors, warm hospitality, and magical garden. The grand entrance hall is inviting and abuzz with activity, and the mouth-watering aromas of freshly baked treats lure you further in. In the distance, you can catch a glimpse of the pristinely kept nine-acre garden, the fragrance of sweet roses wafting through the terrace doors.”
Conde Nast Traveler adds, “A wide, palm-lined driveway leads past lush lawns and flower beds to the grand porticoed entrance. The ‘Nellie’ is Cape Town’s grand dame dating back to 1899. The entire property has been meticulously restored and updated several times over the years to keep everything looking perfect. The Mount Nelson holds many trump cards, not least its historic location, unique garden setting, and old-school vibe. But what really sets this venerable hotel apart is its distinct sense of place—a tough act to follow for newer contenders in the luxury arena.”
The new two-bedroom Honeysuckle Cottage is a light and lavish residence, formed from two neighboring cottages, spanning 1,150-sq.ft. Decorated by interior designer Graham Viney, Indian prints and marble bathrooms add a hint of 18th-century opulence to a modern luxe space. There are two kitted-out kitchens and you are steps from the pool.
More suites at Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel.