There’s a reason Cape Grace always tops the best hotels lists: everyone loves a classic, particularly the kind of classic where the service might lull guests into thinking they’re the only ones at the hotel. That’s no small feat, when staying at a property whose guest list is peppered with famous tycoons, diplomats, and Obamas and Winfreys aplenty. Though Cape Grace only opened its doors in 1996, it harks back to a bygone era; elegant rooms evoke the area’s nautical heritage, and many have windows framing views of the city’s skyline icon, Table Mountain. A new addition to the hotel’s lengthy list of amenities? A revamped outdoor pool and conservatory area, unveiled at the end of October 2014, just in time for South African summer.
The unbeatable location, at the heart of the popular V&A Waterfront district, also translates to easy access to prime Cape Town sites. But if guests want to venture a bit farther afield, there’s always the complimentary BMW on hand to give them a ride.
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There’s always something going on at the V&A Waterfront—it’s one of Africa’s top destinations, after all. Millions of locals and tourists descend on the area for the shopping. Don’t miss the hundreds of stalls by area artisans at the Watershed, a new design market. Dining options abound, and renowned chef Peter Tempelhoff’s Mondiall is a must-hit. The area is also great for museum hopping, and the Waterfront is where you catch the ferry to the Robben Island Museum, where Nelson Mandela spent much of his 27-year prison sentence.
Need to Know
Rooms: 120 rooms and suites. From $560. Check-in: anytime; check-out: noon. Dining options: Capetonians love having high tea at the Library or celebrating their special occasions at the elegant Signal restaurant, but the real draw is the Bascule whiskey bar—with a menu of more than 500 whiskeys from around the world, the hotel is home to one of the largest selections in the Southern Hemisphere. Spa and gym details: Aside from wraparound views, the top-floor spa has a steam room, sauna, and sun deck.
Who it’s best for: High-profile dignitaries (the Dalai Lama and the Clintons have stayed here); business travelers with classic tastes. Our favorite rooms: The 43 generously-sized (almost 500 square feet) Table Mountain Luxury rooms have French doors leading out to a balcony with views of the marina, and Table Mountain beyond. Good to know: The city is excitedly awaiting the continent’s first world-class modern art museum, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, being constructed in the nearby Silo Building. Until it’s unveiled in 2016, pieces from the collection are on display in a pavilion right next to the hotel.