The Mother City is certainly not lacking in lavish, cosseting resort properties. Some of my favorites include the opulent One&Only (home to the only Nobu outpost in Africa), the grand Taj, and the classic Mount Nelson. But I've always felt that the spots that give you the most authentic sense of place are a destination’s tiny, charming boutique hotels—secreted away behind gates on quiet residential lanes, lovingly decorated with family heirlooms and art, and staffed with locals with a warm, unrehearsed sense of hospitality. Cape Town is certainly not lacking in these, either. From an edgy inner-city bolt-hole to an elegant oceanfront manse, to historic villas in lovely neighborhoods off the touristed path, here are my top five Cape Town boutique hotels, known for their congenial staff, stylish décor, and intimate scale. Book early: these petite properties fill up fast, especially during the summer high season (November through February).
I'll always be partial to this historic Georgian villa—after all, I spent part of my first visit to Cape Town here. The 15 suites are befitting the hotel's status as a listed national monument, with ornate fireplaces, plush headboards, and standalone soaking tubs, but the location off Kloof Street is steps from some of Cape Town's trendiest restaurants and bars du jour.
If there's a more lovely spot from which to take in the gorgeous African sunset, I have yet to see it. This mansion has a dramatic setting over the cliffs in Bantry Bay, with ocean views from almost every room. You can't miss the owner's collection of South African art, which adorns most guestrooms and public spaces, and is also on display in a private on-site gallery.
The Grand Daddy Hotel
There are countless quirks behind the grand Victorian façade of this hip hotel on Long Street, the city's nightlife hub. Look out for the oldest working elevator in Cape Town; a mascot in the form of a gilded doggy named Leon, and the best quirk of all hidden away on the roof: an Airstream trailer park.