If you’re looking for a place to sweep you off your feet, choose Cape Town. It may be famously windy, but with its mad fusion of culture, energy, and natural beauty, this cosmopolitan destination is also seriously seductive. It’s been through the wars, but the ‘Mother City’ has emerged as a great African success story, home to a rich melting pot of colours and creeds hungry for a bright future. As laid-back as she is sophisticated, Cape Town knows how to have a good time.
Cape Town hotels are a great reflection of the city itself; there’s something to suit everyone. The One & Only delivers its signature blend of uptown resort chic from the Victoria & Alfred waterfront, a chic marina development of condos and shops. Faultless service, luxurious suites and stunning views of Table Mountain come at a price, but this address delivers.
Couples and honeymooners tend to check in to the immaculate 19th century Dock House (newmarkhotels.com), a boutique retreat offering personalised butler service as standard. For something less chichi but equally special, the Dutch Manor (dutchmanor.co.za) in the buzzing Bo Kaap is a six-bedroom hotel dating back to 1812. Decked out with appropriate period antiques and bags of charm, sink back onto the verandah with an Amarula and enjoy the view.
If you’re not bothered about staying central and would rather wake up to a view of the ocean, POD (pod.co.za) is the last word in beachside bliss. Located just a 15-minute drive from the CBD in Camps Bay (Cape Town’s number one playground for beautiful people), this hotel screams sex appeal with its mix of organic and futuristic design details, and groovy horizon pool.
This September saw the opening of the first Modern Art Museum in the whole of Africa. Zeitz MOCCA housed in what used to be a silo, now contains 9 floors dedicated to permanent and temporary exhibitions of 21st century art from Africa, all done in a range of mediums, including exhibitions such as Kudzanai Chiurai’s piece Regarding the Ease of Others. Right on the Victoria & Albert waterfront, this is a new marvel full of unexplored culture and expression which is not to be missed.
There is a phenomenal sense of being connected to wilderness in this city, and you don’t need to look very far for an adventure. Everyone intends to climb Table Mountain (or hitch a ride up in the convenient cable car), but those in the know prefer to tackle Lion’s Head.
With varied terrain and challenging ascends, it’s a much more exciting hike, and the panorama is incredible. OK, so there’s no Big Five to be found here, but the Marine Five – whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins – are every bit as fascinating. Marine Dynamics (sharkwatchsa.com) offers Great White cage diving day trips from Cape Town to their Klensbaai HQ. Suspend your nerves and take the plunge: jumping into shark-infested waters is more rewarding than it sounds.
The Bo-Kaap is a historic and lively suburb filled with gorgeous terraces painted every colour of the rainbow and charming cobbled streets – get set to see your Instagram on fire. For a real taste of this multicultural neighbourhood, book a cooking class with the inimitable Faldela Tolker, who offers crash courses in Cape Malay cuisine, renowned for its fruit, mild and full-bodied flavours, from the kitchen of her cute lilac home (cookingwithlove.co.za).
Township tours are trending in Cape Town, but Theatre in the Backyard is something special. Director Mhlanguli George writes original, site-specific 30-minute plays set in township backyards, before hosting a home-cooked dinner of traditional isiXhosa dishes. It’s not to be missed (coffeebeansroutes.com).
From cracking open a bottle of excellent MCC on the beach, to making sense of the otherworldly cuisine at The Tasting Room (if you can sneak on to the six-month waiting list), dining in Cape Town will knock you sideways. Luke Dale-Roberts is one chef making waves with innovative flavour combinations at The Test Kitchen and the Pot Luck Club – and new venture The Shortmarket Club looks set to be another winner.
Lunch at Hemelhuijs will lift your spirits with its playful dishes or try Willoughby’s & Co, a sushi institution worth queuing for that offers an African spin on Japanese dishes. The homemade burgers at hipster joint the Dog’s Bollocks are exactly that, served straight up in an industrial yard by chef Nigel (who also makes the wine). Or pig out at Royale Eatery, and make your way through all 50 burgers, slurped down with a thick shake. aMadoda Braai sells grilled meats and good times, where punters get stuck in to sassy dishes such as ‘De Piggyback’ (served with xhosa stove-stop bread and mieliepap), before hitting the dance floor.
Bree Street is the boss for independent shopping, showcasing independent stores such as Kirsten Goss jewellery, Chandler House ceramics, and Kluk CGDT – Cape Town’s answer to Acne. If anyone tries to send you to Green Market Square, forget it. This tired collection of stalls sells generic ethnic tat, probably imported from China.
A much better bet is The Old Biscuit Mill (theoldbiscuitmill.co.za), a creative hub for emerging designers in grungy Woodstock, where you can pick up affordable and interesting arts and crafts, as well as take in the buzzing street art scene. Feeling flush? Check out the Watershed Design Centre (waterfront.co.za), where you can pick up local brands such as Indalo, makers of cute wooden clutch bags, as well as Ballo’s cult recycled wooden sunglasses.
British Airways flies two times a week between Gatwick and Cape Town. Prices start from £535 return, including all taxes and charges, for travel in World Traveller. For reservations visit ba.com/capetown or call 0344 493 0787.
One & Only from £503 per night based on two people sharing (room only). For further information and to book please visit: www.oneandonlyresorts.com.