If there’s one thing we’ve longed for this year, it’s the bustle, creativity and energy of urban spaces. And my-oh-my, the Mother City does that well, even with a mask on and a few metres between us.
Here’s our recommended list of where to stay in Cape Town ...
Promenade chic: La Splendida
Want to feel like a local? Add the Sea Point promenade onto your itinerary. Whether you’re walking, running or biking, this 5km seafront strip is one of Cape Town’s most memorable — and equitable — public spaces. Running from the V&A Waterfront precinct to past the oceanfront public pool in Sea Point, “The Prom” is a joy at dawn, quiet in midday and bustling come sunset. If people-watching is your thing, Sunday morning is best. And if you’ve got children in tow, you’re in luck: there’s a mini-golf course on the seafront, and a large playground in the shadow of Mouille Point lighthouse.
Just a few steps away is La Splendida, set in a rather splendid location overlooking the promenade. Part of the Newmark Hotels portfolio, it’s a boutique property with just a handful of bright and airy rooms on offer. Sea View rooms deliver superb ocean vistas, but do pick up some traffic noise from the road below. If you’re a light sleeper, opt for the Mountain View rooms with glorious outlook over the Green Point Urban Park — also worth a wander — and Table Mountain.
City slicker: Gorgeous George
First Thursdays have become something of an institution in Cape Town, with inner-city art galleries staying open late on the (yup, you guessed it) first Thursday of each month. Come evening, pavements buzz with art lovers roaming between exhibitions, and local bars and restaurants do a brisk trade keeping cultural mavens well fed. After a six-month break, First Thursdays returned to the city streets in September, and are attracting a (mask-wearing, socially-distanced) following once more.
With most of the participating galleries clustered on Church Street, Gorgeous George boutique hotel is the ideal digs to make the most of the inner city arts. For starters, this 32-room hotel is something of a gallery itself, celebrating local art and design throughout. Look for pieces by the likes of David Krynauw and Gregor Jenkin, while artists including David Brits and Porky Hefer add a contemporary African aesthetic to the space. Little wonder it’s a member of the Design Hotels network.
The Studio rooms are cosy, but beautifully designed. If your pocket extends to it, opt for the spacious two-bedroom suite, which comes complete with vinyl player and vinyls. Nice. Hungry? At Gigi Rooftop — the hotel’s cosy rooftop bar and restaurant — executive chef Guy Bennett dishes up a menu of locally inspired plates.
Artful escape: Steenberg
Though the winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek claim plenty of vinous limelight, the vineyards of Constantia — just 20 minutes from the city centre — are a fine way to soak up a little winelands joie de vivre without hitting the highway.
This is, don’t forget, where SA’s wine industry began more than 300 years ago, and the Constantia valley is home to a number of the country’s most venerable cellars; the likes of Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Buitenverwachting. Then there are the young (relatively speaking) upstarts, with winemakers pushing boundaries and filling the mantelpiece with awards. Try Eagle’s Nest for superb Shiraz, or Constantia Glen for both top-drawer Bordeaux-inspired blends and some of the best views in town.
Wine aside, the valley is also building a rep for the arts, thanks largely to the 2018 opening of the Norval Foundation, a gallery and sculpture garden devoted to contemporary visual art from SA and further afield. You’ll find both wine and art right next-door on Steenberg Farm.
The gardens are filled with the modernist sculptures of Edoardo Villa, but stay the night and you’ll find an array of SA and international artists gracing the walls of the hotel’s rooms and suites. The one-bedroom suites, looking out over the championship golf course, offer the last word in contemporary luxury.
Seaside sojourn: Chartfield Guesthouse
While the city’s Atlantic seaboard is all Miami-glam of palm trees and turquoise seas, the village suburbs on the False Bay coastline show a different side to the Mother City.
The (mostly) gentle rollers at Muizenberg make this the best beach in Cape Town for learning to surf, with no shortage of shops offering lessons and board rentals. Down the oh-so-scenic railway track the tidal pool at St James is an Insta-favourite, while the pavements of Kalk Bay are lined with boho-chic cafés, shops and restaurants. Need fresh fish, or a meal at the water’s edge? The colourful harbour is your go-to.
Overlooking it all is Chartfield Guesthouse, a 120-year-old home sandwiched into the steep residential streets of this seaside suburb. The Deluxe Rooms are particularly charming, all sea views and bright sunshine. Thoughtful touches? A complimentary tea/coffee room service is offered daily, from 7.15am to 9am. Lovely.