Best Hotels in Cape Town
Some Cape Town hotels have been recently refreshed, giving travelers yet another reason to check in—or at least to stop by the hotel bar for a glass of South African wine and a spectacular view of Table Mountain.
Read on for the hotels that define the best in Cape Town travel, as selected by readers in our annual World’s Best Awards survey.
No. 1 Cape Grace
A movable pedestrian bascule bridge provides access from the bustling waterfront to this quiet, mansard-roofed hotel on its own private quay. The sumptuous interiors here (all redone in 2008) include dark-wood antiques, blue-and-white Dutch pottery, and richly patterned fabrics that evoke the region’s raw, exotic blooms. The 120 large and luxurious rooms, many with striped wallpaper and botanical prints, have one-of-a-kind artisanal pieces, like traditionally forged iron lamps and whimsical chandeliers made with dangling Delft saucers. The staff is warm and welcoming, whether they’re seating you at a handsome secretarial desk for check-in, delivering refreshments poolside or pampering you with African-infused treatments at the spa.
No. 2 Mount Nelson Hotel
Since 1899, this pink-faced colonial beauty—just a stroll away from the Company Gardens—has been the reigning queen of Cape Town’s hotels. Originally built by a shipping magnate to host wealthy Europeans, “The Nellie” today is operated by Orient-Express and hosts celebs like Richard Gere and Paris Hilton. The property includes nine acres of sweeping lawns and rosebushes, burbling stone fountains and swimming pools; the 209 high-ceilinged guest rooms are sophisticated aeries, decked out in white and cream–colored damask, dark-wood antique furnishings, and (in many cases) dramatically canopied or swagged beds. Colonial-era tradition is observed during afternoon tea service in The Lounge, while modern-day decadence abounds at the new (opened in 2008) Librisa Spa.
No. 3 Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa
Set along a secluded stretch of Atlantic coast, this 70-room mini-resort is a sanctuary where mountain views, sea breezes, and heady indigenous plant life converge. The property’s original 1929 gabled farmhouse has been added on to over the years, but the extensions are understatedly modern and include a crystal grotto-style spa, a 16-seat cinema (showing classics, blockbusters, and kids’ flicks), and two swimming pools (one a sea-facing infinity pool, the other mountainside and ringed with boulders). Although there’s no direct beach access, the hotel has a free shuttle service that makes the two-minute drive to Camps Bay Beach—and the trade-off is a lush landscape fragrant with fynbos (wild indigenous shrubbery), hammock-swagged picnic spots, and private mountain trails bordered with pelargonium blossoms.
No. 4 One&Only Cape Town
This resort, which opened in 2009 on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, features 131 spacious, high-tech rooms and a knockout first impression: the hotel’s 40-foot-tall picture window framing Table Mountain at Vista Bar & Lounge. Outsize luxury is trumpeted everywhere here, from the tri-level "wine loft" in front of Rueben's to an outpost of sushi master Nobuyuki Matsuhisa's Nobu and the spa’s two manicure clinics by Bastien Gonzalez. The cream-colored, Adam D. Tihany–designed rooms are slick and vast; baths have a wow factor, too, though with a notable style-over-substance lapse (the freestanding tubs are huge, beautiful—and a bit uncomfortable).
No. 5 Victoria & Alfred Hotel
Steeped in the pioneering spirit of colonial Cape Town, this distinguished hotel is set on the city’s thriving harbor (both are named for the queen of England and her son, who inaugurated the waterfront in 1870). About a third of the 94 rooms are loftlike spaces that offer glimpses of the building’s warehouse past (whitewashed brick and exposed beams, stone-and-granite bathrooms), while all accommodations have windows that overlook either the historic waterfront or a nearby piazza. Don’t miss a dockside dinner at the hotel’s open-air restaurant, OYO, for smoked trout, crayfish, and steamed mussels served with a view of Table Mountain.
No. 6 Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays
Centrally located on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, this sleek tower hotel’s 483 guest rooms are decorated with specially commissioned local South African art. Keep in mind that it’s worth the upgrade for access to the excellent executive club for complimentary breakfast in the morning and appetizers in the evening. For floor-to-ceiling views of the harbor and Atlantic Ocean (and a bit of exercise) swim laps in the sleek 19th-floor infinity pool.