The ultimate hotel guide to Cape Town

A dramatic setting and vibrant arts scene might steal the show, but the South African city’s ever-growing choice of impressive hotels is reason enough to stay a little longer.

By Hannah Summers
Published 20 Dec 2020, 08:04 GMT
Cape Town

Cape Town is a city that caters for all budgets, with everything from colourful guesthouses and sprawling mansion hotels to luxe boutique boltholes.

Photograph by AWL Images

When it comes to stop-you-in-your tracks scenery, Cape Town knows a thing or two. On one side, Table Mountain gazes out over the city, while to the other, dozens of white-sand beaches tumble into the Atlantic Ocean. But for all the hiking, surfing and sunbathing you can do here, some of Cape Town’s simplest pleasures are to be found in its neighbourhoods. Take a stroll and you’ll discover a truly sensational art scene, from world-class museums on the V&A Waterfront to tiny galleries in Woodstock. Independent bars and restaurants serve wine from some of the region’s finest vineyards, and plates of seafood caught just off the coast. Handily, this is also a city that caters for all budgets, with everything from colourful guesthouses in Green Point to sprawling mansion hotels and luxe boutique boltholes in Bantry Bay.

Gorgeous George is located in two heritage buildings — one art deco, the other Edwardian.

Photograph by Gorgeous George

1. Gorgeous George

Best for night owls

The clue’s in the name: Gorgeous George is one handsome hotel. Located in two heritage buildings — one art deco, the other Edwardian — its 32 spacious, design-focused studios go big on exposed concrete, steel beams, and Victorian-style penny tiles in the monochrome bathrooms. It’s very central — a short stroll from Bo-Kaap and a stumble from some of the neighbourhood’s excellent cocktail bars, but its own bar and restaurant, Gigi Rooftop, is a real showstopper, with loungers, a plunge pool with city views and velvet sofas.
Rooms: From 3,950 rand (£184), B&B

2. Stock Exchange

Best for local character

Set in the former textile neighbourhood of Woodstock, a handy 10-minute taxi ride from the Waterfront, is the bright and bold Stock Exchange. Each of its 33 studios comes with a kitchenette to whip up your own meals in — when you’re not hanging out in the nearby cafes and Neighbourgoods Market, that is. Whitewashed brick walls, acid-green light fixtures and jazzy abstract throws add to the playful feel, with most furnishings sourced from local designers — there’s even an in-room map to tell you who created what, should you want to buy your own. A small pool and gym overlook the docks and Table Mountain, and there’s also an onsite microbrewery.
Rooms: From 1,505 rand (£70)

Pod is a hip 17-room boutique hotel that combines a stylish setting with an ultra-laid-back vibe.

Photograph by Pod

3. Pod

Best for coastal cool

Located just metres from glitzy Camps Bay’s white-sand beach, Pod is a hip 17-room boutique hotel that combines a stylish setting with an ultra-laid-back vibe. You’ll pay more for the bigger rooms with beach views (and private plunge pools), while the open-plan Mini Mountain Rooms, looking towards Lion’s Head, are a well-sized steal, complete with beach bags filled with bats, balls and towels. A free mini bar is stocked with local wine and beer, and there are free cocktails and snacks at sunset — the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon lazing by the 55ft pool.
Rooms: From 3,960 rand (£185), B&B

4. The Silo

For design-lovers

Fancy a room with a view? Head to The Silo: a 28-room boutique hotel, atop the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, on the V&A Waterfront. The striking facade of the former grain silo has been remodelled by British designer Thomas Heatherwick; inside is a celebration of art and colour, created by owner Liz Biden. Shimmering chandeliers, statement vases and super-sized headboards fill the bedrooms, while standalone bathtubs sit by floor-to-ceiling windows. Make for the rooftop to float in the spectacular infinity pool.
Rooms: From 14,300 rand (£666), B&B

5. Grand Daddy

Best for vintage vibes

The playful pad, Grand Daddy, is sandwiched amid the bars and restaurants of buzzy, downtown Long Street. Turquoise-accent walls and millennial-pink headboards feature in many of the 25 rooms. Also on offer are seven vintage Airstreams on the rooftop, each with its own theme, from Rooftop Safari to Cape Winelands. The space also hosts cinema sessions, and free salsa classes on Fridays. Thirty Ate, the hotel restaurant, meanwhile, serves big portions from breakfast to dinner.
Rooms: From £90, B&B

At Ellerman House, sunbeds dot the grounds near the pool.

Photograph by Ellerman House

6. Ellerman House

For old-school grandeur

Ellerman House, a sprawling Edwardian mansion, is set high up on a Bantry Bay cliffside. Wrought-iron sunbeds with striped cushions dot the grounds near the pool. But tear yourself away and you’ll discover one of the country’s best displays of South African art, with paintings lining the antique-crammed corridors. With just 13 rooms, there’s a hushed intimacy here, and the team will help with anything you need, including free transfers into town. Don’t miss the walk-in pantry, where you can help yourself to gooey brownies, and devour them while spotting dolphins from the terrace.
Rooms: From £510, B&B

7. The B.I.G

Best for budget brilliance

The B.I.G, a pretty hostel in Green Point, is aimed at the flash-packing brigade. Spread over two houses with two kitchens, a shabby-chic vibe prevails. Expect pastel-hued rooms (many en suite), tin buckets as lampshades, sturdy wooden bunks and double en suite rooms for extra privacy. Don’t miss the bougainvillea-draped pool area with rattan sun loungers. Excursions around the city can be arranged, from bar crawls to surfing trips.
Rooms: Dorms from 272 rand (£13), doubles from 880 rand (£40)

8. Compass House

Best for kicking back

Stay at Compass House and you’ll feel like you’re holidaying in your own relaxed villa-with-views. Its location, on a hillside in Bantry Bay, means it escapes the winds that sometimes blast the city — ideal if you plan on lounging on a fourposter daybed beside the infinity pool. All of the eight, differently sized, dazzling white rooms are flooded with natural light. An honesty bar and resident Corgi-Jack Russell cross adds to the home-from-home vibe.
Rooms: From 6,100 rand (£285), B&B

At Pineapple House, each of the nine rooms is different, but all are vibrant and, above all, fun.

Photograph by Pineapple House

9. Pineapple House

Best for style gurus

With its blush-pink exterior and neon signage, Pineapple House is one of the coolest new hotels in the city, with a handy location just two blocks from the beach in Sea Point. Each of the nine rooms is different, but all are vibrant and, above all, fun — leopard-print headboards, tropical-print bedspreads and pretty cotton gowns from Woodstock Laundry all feature. The friendly service makes it feel like you’re staying in a friend’s impeccably designed home, with breakfast served in a sunny, electric-blue room, complete with green velvet chairs and bold prints from local photographer Krisjan Rossouw. The plant-lined plunge pool is a great spot to chill in after a day’s sightseeing.
Rooms: From 1,650 rand (£77), B&B

10. Tintswalo Atlantic

Best for beach bums

The sublime property Tintswalo Atlantic is the only luxe hotel located within the Table Mountain National Park, and right on the ocean to boot. Wake up in one of 11 suites, all of which come with a different island theme — such as Ithaca Island, with its white walls, royal-blue touches and huge, cushion-adorned bed. The food is sublime, too; start the morning with a delivery of fresh croissants and coffee to your room or just linger by the pool, tucking into a basket of crispy calamari.
Rooms: From 6,565 rand (£305), B&B

Published in the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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