Just Back from Cape Town: Idina Menzel
HOME BASE New York City
PERIOD PIECE Menzel, who ends her Tony award-winning run in the Broadway musical Wicked this month, headed to South Africa for the filming of Ask the Dust with Colin Farrell ("he gets a bad rap but, really, he's a perfect gentleman") and Salma Hayek. "The story takes place in 1930's Los Angeles. Robert Towne, the director, chose to shoot here because the terrain is so similar," Menzel says. "It's just like Malibu—ocean on one side, mountains on the other."
TRADING SPACES "I love staying at different hotels, experiencing the new and unfamiliar," says Menzel, who unpacked at the Mount Nelson Hotel (76 Orange St.; 27-21/483-1000; www.mountnelson.co.za; doubles from $848). "The best part—whatever you ask for, no matter how crazy, they will always bring it."
ON THE TOWN Due to a lot of late-night shoots, Menzel did most of her sightseeing after dark. "What impressed me most was the multicultural aspect of the city," she says. "The music was great and the people were from all over the world." Her favorite spots: Jo'burg (218 Long St.; 27-21/422-0142) and the Leopard Room at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa (Victoria Rd.; 27-21/437-9000).
ENCORE PERFORMANCE "I plan to come back with my husband [actor Taye Diggs] and go on a safari."
—H. Scott Jolley
Belmond 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 Belmond 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.