Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel Cape Town, South Africa
One of the world’s top historical hotels, locals and fans alike affectionately call this rose-pink palace ‘The Nelly’ or ‘The Pink Lady’. We admired it before even setting foot in it, but it was here, in the shadow of the majestic Table Mountain, that we came to join the ranks of thousands who have come to adore this Grande Dame that is the Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel.
With nearly 120 years of history, hosting famous and influential people from Winston Churchill to the Dalai Lama, it’s no real wonder why the Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel has become known as Cape Town’s (and perhaps even South Africa’s) most famous luxury property.
But despite more contemporary properties seeking to claim its title, the Mount Nelson continues to raise the bar: from its lavish high tea (that has made the hotel a destination in itself – there’s sometimes a waiting list!), to its unbeatable breakfast buffet, its manicured gardens, a luxurious pool and the hotel’s elegant suites.
Expect a sense of the old-world throughout the hotel’s seven different wings, even the corridors that lead to the rooms tell stories of the hotel’s illustrious history.
OutThere travellers will want to book a suite in the East wing, where we settled into our well-groomed, modern, one-bedroom suite. Much to our surprise, the ambience is different here: generous touches of contemporary design have been given to the decor, without compromising on charm and elegance – a clever way of merging old and new – appealing to a much broader traveller base than one might expect of this stalwart, grande dame.
More contemporary travellers will also find experiences suited to urban explorers, just outside the hotel’s gates. Mount Nelson is after all located in what has become the trendy neighbourhood surrounding Kloof and Long Streets, teeming with local shops, bars and restaurants. Just remember to keep your wits about you and leave your valuables locked up in the hotel safe. It’s not that it is an unsafe neighbourhood by any means, but there have been reports of opportunists picking on spellbound and unwary tourists.
At the end of any given day, we loved returning to the comforts of the Mount Nelson, and we hobnobbed with fellow guests over a drink in the Planet Bar and a bite at either the Lord Nelson Restaurant or the Oasis Bistro. The highlight of our entire stay though was the ever attentive and friendly staff, who on so many occasions went way out of their way to make us feel at home, away from home. People make a hotel, and here they certainly exceeded our expectations.
Right on time
While you’re Out There
The Mount Nelson is the gateway to the great (and grape) outdoors and everything Cape Town and the Western Cape has to offer. You’ll be spoilt for choice as there are numerous Cape Wineland journeys to pick from… in a 4×4, classic car, or even a motorbike and side car, if that takes your fancy. We opted to head of the city into the Constantia Winelands to experience three historic wine estates using private roads with access only given to the Mount Nelson’s tour team. On this journey, we enjoyed meeting the region’s youngest female winemaker and tasting what is said to be the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.