Much to my surprise, Cape Town had heaps of accommodations overflowing with character – not just the traditional big city chain hotels you might expect. Here are four of my picks for B&Bs, boutiques and self-catered accommodations in Kaapstad.
Shabby chic and cute-as-a-button from corner to corner, Blackheath Lodge is a Pinterest board come-to-life. Located in homey Sea Point, the lodge has a small pool area, precious breakfast porch and blooming flowers overflowing from every pot and vase.
Decor only gets you so far though, so how did the rest of the property hold up? Breakfast was so delicious and tres gourmet with mini-quiches and baked yummies, and my room was big, bright and exactly what I needed after about 17 hours in transit. The cushy bathrobe helped me get comfy fast even though my luggage was missing somewhere in Africa, and the in-room DVD library provided me with some much-needed post-Kenya Robert Redford.
The staff was impeccable and worth noting, too. Antony and his team are endlessly smiling, helpful vessels of tips. It was Antony who encouraged cranky post-travel Angie to go for a walk at sunset even though I was exhausted from the journey and annoyed about my luggage being lost… but about 5 minutes from the property is the sea. And once I was there, meandering along the boardwalk, taking in the kelp forest and beating waves – I was refreshed by the salty air and excited to get to know Cape Town. Smart guy, that Antony!
After staying at Blackheath Lodge, it’s no surprise it was named by readers as one of Africa’s top 25 hotels. For information on rates, click here.
From Blackheath Lodge I took a 10 minute taxi over to the Tamboerskloof neighborhood (and quickly learned that proper pronunciation would be just about futile in Cape Town) and checked into another design superstar and TripAdvisor Top 25 hotel – An African Villa. While the property is walking distance to quite a few sites, like famous Kloof Street, I still found that seeing Cape Town without a car (and South Africa, for that matter) would prove to be a real pain. I was not about to rent a car and drive on the other side of the road all by myself — I just wasn’t ready for that – so I hoofed it when possible and took taxis when necessary.
The property is a Victorian home from the late 1800s with 12 bedrooms, huge living spaces and the feel of a sleek, modern Africa. Colorfully painted ostrich eggs adorn glass vases, paper lantern animal heads grace the walls and shelves and shelves of books await research-happy travel writers. Button, Zip and Brandi (two dachshunds and a golden retriever) often greet visitors at check-in… and their owners are hospitable and warm, too, standing ready with maps and suggestions to make Cape Town feel like home.
The enormous kitchen and dining area is the scene for a yummy, hearty breakfast spread, cooked to order by a very smiley, kind staff. WiFi is free and there are computers and printers should guests need to print boarding passes or maps for exploring the surrounding area.
For information on An African Villa, click here.
I started my Cape Town journey at the sea, moved inland a smidge to historic Tamboerskloof and then drifted up to the very foot of Table Mountain to Alta Bay, a very quiet 4-bedroom property in Higgovale, the residential hills just past the main town. Decor is very simple, clean and modern – a lot like how I might do my house up if I ever actually get one.
My loft bedroom was peaceful and surrounded by greenery, offering a pretty view of Cape Town’s sprawling metropolis below. Behind, and often hidden by clouds, was imposing Table Mountain. In addition to a huge soaking tub in the bathroom, my spacious suite had an equipped kitchen — always such a treat for me. I cooked a couple of nights and managed to get some work done while staying very low key. Thank goodness for free WiFi!
Owners Stephan and his wife were so helpful and keen to make sure my stay was perfect, and I know they did the same for the other guests who I never once ran into in three days. Alta Bay is a great spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town while still being within 15 minutes drive. It’s tranquil, tucked away and superbly comfortable – and you can do your own thing since it’s totally self-catered.
Again, not having a car in this location was a bit of a pain, but I managed to hitch a ride and wander down to town by foot. It really wasn’t that far, but to do it every day would’ve been annoying.
For more information on rates, click here.
Just over Table Mountain, which finally came out of the clouds after a week, I found Greenways Hotel, a boutique in an old home reminiscent of the English countryside. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I loved it so much. Located in Upper Claremont, Greenways is ritzy but comfortable. Definitely need a car to get here… or a taxi… or a ride from the super sweet owners who went out of their way more than once to show me the *real* Cape Town.
Greenways is so very green, sitting on 6 acres of well-manicured garden with politely trimmed hedges and properly flowering blooms. The 17 rooms and suites are very traditional, decorated with antiques and beautiful bedding, with a cigar bar, library and an elegant restaurant downstairs.
It might all be too posh if not for the effortlessly warm and welcoming staff at Greenways. I found myself lingering at reception a little longer than one should, just chatting everyone up for tips and suggestions. When I returned from my shark dive in Gansbaii, everyone crowded around to look at pictures and ask details. Of course it was a highlight of my year, so I was happy to oblige. In general, I found folks in South Africa to be some of the friendliest and most helpful anywhere I’ve been.
When not touring the local shopping haunts on my rainy, hail-covered birthday, I spent my time here in the massive bathroom at Greenways. That giant soaking tub was calling to me, and I washed my 20s away with a bubble bath. BTW, Greenways has amazing locally produced bathroom products and get this – the floor is heated. Unexpected, but kinda amazing!
I wish it had been a bit warmer when I was in Cape Town, because the pool area at Greenways is surrounded by fields and plants and just waiting for a lazy lounger like me to take over a chair. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite summertime yet… perhaps on the next trip.
For more information on Greenways, click here.
Special thanks to all the hotels who provided a home for me during the last days of my 20s! As always, reviews on Angie Away are my own.