In recent years, Cape Town’s hotel scene has been flourishing. A crop of new design-led boutique stays take full advantage of the city’s natural beauty and thriving restaurant scenes. Meanwhile, some of the city’s old favorites—like Tintswalo and the Belmond Mount Nelson—were refreshed or rebuilt. Read on for some of the best places to stay in Cape Town.
What to expect: A escape within the city in an unexpected location
Unless you’re a Cape Town local, it’s likely you’ve never ventured past Dorp, located at the top of a steep road at the base of Signal Hill and above the residential part of BoKaap, known for its colorful houses. Translating to “town” in Afrikaans, Dorp feels like its own little village within Cape Town. Bordered by a wild garden, and centered around a main courtyard and café, the rooms are in various buildings that climb the hill and lead off down rambling garden paths. Instead of a lobby, there’s a check-in desk next to a grand dining room and lounge filled with fringed sofas and inviting wingback chairs. Each room is entirely different and ranges from cozy spaces to giant stand-alone suites with kitchenettes; some have dipping pools, while others have terraces and steam rooms. One room even leads onto the rooftop garden, offering the best views of the entire City Bowl and Table Mountain at Dorp.
What to expect: A chic stay in Cape Town’s revitalized downtown
Neighborhood: Central business district
A few years ago, Labotessa’s location on Church Square in downtown Cape Town, long a nondescript business district, would have been less than desirable. But recently, creative investments have turned it into a lively, more leisure-oriented hub, reinvigorating the area’s attractive heritage buildings with internationally recognized restaurants (including the Japanese- and South African–inspired Fyn) and locally owned shops. When it opened in 2019, Labotessa was the area’s first boutique hotel arrival, and the property’s six handsome signature suites are kitted out with thick draped curtains and artwork by artists like Emma Aspeling. On property, there’s also a fragrance boutique and a restaurant serving fortifying meals like bobotie (a Cape Malay curry dish).
What to expect: A slice of France in the middle of one of the city’s buzziest areas
Walk into the courtyard of La Grenadine, shaded by pomegranate, guava, avocado, and olive trees, and it’s as though you’ve been transported to a farm in Provence. This is especially surprising because the hotel is near one of Cape Town’s buzziest strips, Kloof Street, putting guests within walking distance of creative locally owned businesses like Ashanti Design. Owned by a French couple who fell in love with Cape Town, La Grenadine is set in a 19th-century farm building with five rooms and a two-bedroom cottage, all centered around the main courtyard. The inviting, unfussy rooms are adorned with white hand-embroidered linens, vintage furniture, and clawfoot bathtubs. Even the breakfast of fresh croissants, pain au chocolate, baguette, and homemade jams will transport you to a French country house.
What to expect: A discreet refuge with world-class art and staggering views
Neighborhood: Bantry Bay
Lucky guests staying at Ellerman House between July and September may spot southern right whales swimming off the sparkling coast from the pink and white terrace of Ellerman House. Inside this Edwardian mansion, tucked behind an unassuming wall on a busy road along the city’s Atlantic Seaboard, lies another wonderful surprise: The property houses one of the country’s largest private collections of art with pieces by South African artists like William Kentridge and Sam Nhlengethwa. There’s also a wine cellar with more than 9,500 South African wines to try. The 13 rooms and suites all have wingback chairs and chandeliers; the two modern-feeling villas feature private pools. While each space is different, there’s one thing they all have in common: a brilliant vantage point from which to watch the sun sink.
Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel
What to expect: Old-school charmer near the city center
Known to many as “The Pink Lady” for her blush-colored exterior, Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel is a Cape Town institution. Well-heeled locals have been frequenting her terrace and manicured lawns for high tea and fancy picnics for decades, and the Librisa spa has long been a favorite for massages or manicures. Those fortunate enough to stay at this grand palace can spend time at the long pool fringed with daybeds and the 198 guest rooms and suites lined with patterned curtains and windows opening onto the garden. Some of the best rooms are the Victorian garden cottages, along a rose-lined path in the garden. (Be sure to have breakfast on your private terrace.) On the hotel’s doorstep is the Company’s Garden, the green space and heritage site that’s home to cultural institutions like the Iziko Museums of South Africa.
The Silo Hotel
What to expect: Bright and lively interiors inside a brutalist building
Neighborhood: V&A Waterfront
Positioned above the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Zeitz MOCAA Museum in a former grain silo at the V&A Waterfront, the Silo Hotel might have the most spectacular location in Cape Town. The hotel has a 360-degree view of the city, with Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, and the glimmering Atlantic Ocean all on display. Naturally, the place for a sunset drink is on the open rooftop. The 28 bright rooms, designed by Liz Biden of the Royal Portfolio, showcase those stellar views through multifaceted, geometric windows and feature printed sofas with colorful fabrics, glass chandeliers, and stand-alone tubs. The hotel also serves as a mini art gallery; scattered throughout the property are notable pieces by regional artists like South African–born Zanele Muholi and Jody Paulsen and Swaziland artist Nandipha Mntambo. Continue the art immersion at the Zeitz MOCAA Museum—its groundbreaking collection of contemporary works from Africa and its diaspora are a few flights below.
What to expect: An escape with ocean views a short drive outside the city
Neighborhood: Table Mountain National Park
Tintswalo Atlantic, which originally opened 15 years ago, has finally reopened following damage from an extensive fire in 2019. Though it’s always been a low-key hideaway that’s attracted high-end travelers, it’s now arguably better than ever. Given the hotel’s remote and picturesque location beside the ocean, wedged between Table Mountain National Park and Chapman’s Peak, this place is a showstopper. The spacious suites have private ocean-facing terraces, fireplaces, and chandeliers that dangle from exposed wood ceilings. This retreat is a 25-minute drive from Cape Town, but guests needn’t wander far for a fine dining experience. The hotel is home to a Chef’s Warehouse restaurant run by culinary king Liam Tomlin. Even if you don’t stay here, be sure to book a tapas tasting menu and enjoy such oceanic treasures as fresh oysters and seared tuna.
What to expect: A restored 19th-century residence in a residential neighborhood
Located in a house that dates to 1860–typical of many Victorian homes around the residential area of Tamboerskloof—a stay at Noah House immerses guests within the quotidian rhythms of the charming neighborhood. The 10 guest rooms in beige and white offer old black marble fireplaces, Malawi-style wicker chairs, and terraces with intricate balustrades. On weekends, locals swing by the café for house-made granola and avocado toast served on the street-facing terrace. One of the best perks of the hotel is that it’s minutes by foot from Kloof Street, lined with some of the city’s most exciting restaurants and shops.
What to expect: A design destination in downtown Cape Town
Neighborhood: City Bowl
From local designer Tristan du Plessis comes Gorgeous George, a superbly chic inner-city hotel filled with pieces by some of the country’s best designers, including a swing chair by Porky Hefer and steel tables by Gregor Jenkin. Set between two restored buildings (one Edwardian, one art deco) near St. Georges Mall, where a weekly market springs to life, the hotel has an inviting, contemporary feel, with oak floors, leather quilted sofas, and plant-filled corners in the public spaces. The 32 guest rooms have exposed cement ceilings and murals painted by Cape Town artist David Brits. At Gigi, the indoor-outdoor rooftop restaurant with a light-filled conservatory, guests can take a dip in the tiny pool or snack on plates of burrata and fish tartare.
Art House Collection
What to expect: A curated group of art-filled, one-of-a-kind homes
Neighborhood: Across the city
From creative powerhouse Elana Brundyn, former director of Zeitz MOCCA and CEO of Cape Town’s contemporary art–focused Norval Foundation, comes a collection of stylish homes filled with the work of notable artists and designers, all available for rent. The Art House Collection portfolio of properties is like an exclusive version of Airbnb for serious aesthetes, with different home styles: six-room mansions, farmhouses in the nearby Cape Winelands, studios in the city center. A retreat on the Eastern Cape is filled with the works of such artists as Nelson Makamo and Mary Sibande, while an apartment in Cape Town showcases the acclaimed photography of Guy Tillim. Leveraging Cape Town’s outsize reputation as an arts center, the Art House Collection team can arrange private tours of museums or galleries and even make introductions to artists.
Mary Holland Mary Holland is South African writer based in New York. She has written for WSJ Magazine, the Financial Times, HTSI, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and W Magazine. She is the New York correspondent for Monocle Magazine.