Nestled between the slopes of Table Mountain in the heart of Cape Town, Mount Nelson hotel is a luxurious and tranquil oasis with a rich history.
After being in the African bush for 10 days, Cathy and I headed to Cape Town, South Africa’s mother city, and stayed at the Belmond Mount Nelson hotel.
Cape Town’s iconic pink lady opened her doors in 1899, and made waves as the first hotel in the city to provide hot and cold running water. Ever since, the luxury hotel has attracted a well-heeled mix of loyal guests, including Charlize Theron, Leonardo DiCaprio and Winston Churchill.
Painted pink to celebrate the end of the Great War, the iconic walls are a reminder of the hotel’s old-world charm and fascinating history. The service is impeccable, the interiors are glamorous, the gardens immaculately groomed, and the number of restaurants, bars and city sights within strolling distance to its doorstep are plentiful.
The hotel is a nine acre green oasis right in the centre of the city, with a palm-lined driveway leading to art-strewn lawns, magnificent flower beds, two pools and tennis courts. While it’s not ideal for a sea or mountain view from your bed, the hotel boasts clear views of Table Mountain, and the best poolside scene in the city.
Mount Nelson has an incredibly convenient location: cross the road and you enter the city via the Company Gardens, a delightful stroll that takes you past museums and shaded lawns into the bustling centre. Through the back entrance is Kloof Street, where tons of trendy restaurants and bar options are waiting to be explored.
We checked in and were greeted by Kimberly, who showed us around the hotel and its extensive grounds. Reception and concierge staff are faultless, as you’d expect from a Belmond hotel. Many of the staff have worked here for decades, so their recommendations and insider advice are 100 percent dependable.
The hotel is famous for serving the best high tea in the city, and deservedly so, with a new tea sommelier to assist in choosing from the more than 100 on offer.
Mount Nelson is a large hotel (196 rooms) comprising the original buildings, plus an extension encompassing what was once known as the Helmsley Hotel. The East Wing of the hotel is where you want to book: led by London-based interior designer Inge Mooreod Muza Lab, these new-look rooms are elegant and pleasing to the eye.
We were in a junior suite which was simply huge and delightful.
The spa’s eight treatment rooms are tucked away in a heritage Victorian building—tranquil and quiet. Try the locally made, plant-based Africology products, which smell fabulous and have restorative properties for sunburnt skin.
Planet Restaurant offers romantic fine dining in double volume space under the helm of Chef Rudi Liebenberg–a passionate proponent of locally sourced ingredients (look out for vegetables sourced from Abalimi Bezhekaya, a community farming project, and his Saturday ‘Wasted’ five-course menu made from the unwanted parts of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish). High tea in the lounge is a star attraction, and the Planet Bar (which spills out onto the terrace and gardens) is a wonderful place to people-watch. A glamorous and popular local after-work watering hole, you never have to leave the premises to mingle with locals.
All in all one of the best hotels ever.
For Andrew, travel is so much more than just learning history or taking photos. Rather, the value of travel is witnessing a lifestyle, bonding with locals, and gaining rich cultural experiences. That’s why he founded the Luxury Wanderer; a place to share itineraries, offer advice, swap stories, and foster a like-minded community of curious travellers.