Where to Stay in Cape Town
Where to stay in Cape Town?
My pick for hotel locations are usually location based. I want to be near the tourist or picked attractions and value time as a commodity in picking a hotel. Hotels on the outskirts are likely less expensive, but it’s a tradeoff with time.
Safety is also always top of my list but even more so in Cape Town. Various studies online will report crime rates of ~30% in Cape Town. These numbers are a skewed as the crime rate is largely tied to gang activity and prevalent (as much as 50%) in a few of the townships in the Cape Flats area. These areas are not near the main tourist areas of the City Bowl, Table Mountain and areas on the seaside of Lions Head and Signal Hill.
However, it’s still a high crime rate regardless. Regardless, as in any major city around the world, vigilance is required.
I knew I would visiting Robben Island which departs from the V&A Waterfront as well as taking some walking tours in the City Bowl. Other highlights would be going up Table Mountain. The main entrance is from the Lion’s Head side and then also Kirstenbosch which is accessed around the other way, but this was the outlier. I also wanted to get some ocean views.
Is Cape Town Safe?
Safety was a main concern in picking my accommodations as I read (and received while there) stern warnings against walking alone and being outside after dark in addition to safety warnings about driving/walking around the city even in the day.
The additional security is immediately seen as most properties have guards, there are bars on residential windows and buildings having multiple locked entries. As I drove through the city, you can see private residences with multiple security signs as well.
Did I feel safe? To be honest… not always. My spidey radar was going off often and if alone (even stepping outside a cafe to await an Uber) I was often approached quickly by someone aggressively wanting money. I adjusted quickly, did not linger and went point to point with Uber or took walking tours instead of my usual wander through cities.
Though I had prepared myself and read about security warnings, Cape Town is often lauded in tourist/travel trade articles about being a highly livable city and tourist destination. I don’t think they paint a realistic picture of the crime and security conditions. This does not mean, don’t go. It just means, be aware and travel with this pretense.
In conversations with Cape Town locals, the things that made my eyes widen and senses alert were simply a way of life for them and the norm. I am sure if they came to where I live, there would be things that they would point out as well. For me though as a short-time tourist, a heightened security awareness is needed and should be considered.
From my visit in November 2019, the V&A Waterfront had the most security presence and would be a good pick for first-timers. While in the main city of Cape Town, I stayed up in the Green Point / Mouille Point area which was largely residential and another good location though less security. I also dropped by several hotels and these would be my picks for a stay in Cape Town.
Two other recommendations are below for stay in Simon’s Town or out in the Winelands where I stayed multiple nights as well as opposed to doing day trips and I highly recommend them.
Cape Town Neighborhoods
V&A Waterfront: This area has high security and many upmarket hotels, restaurants, and bars all conveniently in the same place.
Pro: Safe and lots available. || Con: Really touristy.
City Bowl: This is what would be considered the main city area where the government buildings are and lots of local life.
Pro: You are in the action. || Con: Parking & Security.
Beach Areas: These areas are more frequented by locales and full of apartments with some hotels. Great views and access to the ocean. They run along the southern stretch and include: Green Point, Sea Point, Clifton and Camp’s Bay.
Pro: Local Life, Quiet, Ocean Views || Con: You will need to Uber or Drive.
Location: V&A Waterfront
Opened in 1924, the grain silo was the tallest building in Sub-Saharan Africa at 57m when it was opened.
Today it is a 5-star hotel with 28 rooms after a major renovation in 2017. Located at the V&A Waterfront next door to Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCCA), this is a great place for at least a cocktail with views or a stay.
The highlighted feature are the multi-faceted glass windows that glisten like diamonds.
One&Only Cape Town
Location: V&A Waterfront
The One&Only Cape Town is the largest luxury hotel in Cape Town and bills itself as an oasis in the heart of the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. With its lagoon and infinity pool, I would say they deliver.
You will be in the lap of luxury in the center of it all in one of the 78 rooms & 53 suites and every amenity you could want including a spa & world-class dining.
Radisson Blu Waterfront
Location: Near V&A Waterfront & Mouille Point
If you want to be out of the V&A Waterfront but still close and have hotel service, check out the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Cape Town. This hotel has 177 rooms.
The location has beautiful views of the sea and Table Mountain. It is just a few minutes to the V&A Waterfront via a complimentary shuttle service. The property features a golf course and access to the Mouille Point promenade and Cape Town Stadium.
Photo courtesy of the Radisson Blu Waterfront
Sea Sky Villas
Location: Mouille Point, Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay (Over 20 locations)
Looking for private rental villas? Sea Sky Villas offers luxury villa rentals for more private space, self-catering, sleeps 2-12, private pools and amazing views in some of the best local neighborhoods in Cape Town.
Originally known as Klaasenbosch (Claasenbosch), The Cellars-Hohenort was the sprawling estate that belonged to the chief surgeon of the Dutch East India Company, Hendrik ten Damme. Over the next few hundred years, the property was developed by several owners for use in the Constantia wine industry and the original thatched farmhouse was replaced by the impressive German style manor seen today.
In 1991, Liz McGrath purchased the nine acre property including gardens and the historic Champion trees. It was refurbished into a 51 room hotel as part of the prestigious, internationally renowned Relais & Châteaux Association.
This is a great pick for a more relaxed and private location. Kirstenbosch is just a short drive though the on-site gardens are very impressive. Cape Town city centre is a short 15 minutes drive away (perhaps 30 min if traffic).
You might also drop by for Classic High Tea served daily in their restaurants (Sun Lounge, Conservatory Terrace or in the Palm Arch).
You could easily do a day-trip to Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope via Chapman Drive to take in this beautiful area of Cape Town. To avoid the crowds and non-rushed views of sunrise & sunset, you might want to consider an overnight stay in Simon’s Town.
This 4-star B&B is a 5 minutes drive from the infamous Boulders Beach Penguin colony in Simon’s Town. This also make for access to great hiking around the Cape of Good Hope.
The hillside location means virtually every room has uninterrupted views of False Bay towards the Hottentots Holland mountains including a rooftop deck and pool.
Colorful and well-appointed rooms make a top impression as well as Sharon’s excellent hospitality (and breakfast spread) for your stay.
Cape Winelands is another area that you could visit on a day trip as its about 45 minutes from Cape Town. However a few days in the Cape Winelands is a must in my book.
The vineyards will remind you of Napa Valley and Northern California.
The landscapes are reminiscent of Southern and Central California.
The architecture… Dutch.
The vibe… Cape Winelands
There are many 5-star resorts, but I found this VERY AFFORDABLE little gem in the center of Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Franschoek in order to enjoy all three areas with a quick 5 minutes drive to each.
Lekkerwijn Historic Country Guest House
Lekkerwijn is a historic Cape Dutch Homestead set in the Cape Winelands.
The 4 star BnB property dates back to the French Hugonet settlement in 1690. The family house has been added onto for centuries (often with antiques from neighboring farms set for destruction) and lovingly restored into this guest home today.
Great service and the perfect locale in the center of the Cape Winelands make for a great stay. The price can’t be beat!
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