Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town

Location: Table Bay Hotel sits at the edge of Cape Town’s touristy but ludicrously popular Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – formerly a 19th century working harbour and now a hybrid of port and glitzy shopping/dining.

Location: Table Bay Hotel sits at the edge of Cape Town’s touristy but ludicrously popular Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – formerly a 19th century working harbour and now a hybrid of port and glitzy shopping/dining. 

First Impressions: The Table Bay Hotel is the magic kingdom castle of the Disney-esque W&A Waterfront. Everything around here sparkles, including the hotel, which could seem imposing with its wide neo-Victorian pastel façade, but instead there’s a contemporary fairy tale feel of luxury hospitality. The hotel is all about old school glamour – polished marble floors, classic chandeliers and floor to ceiling windows overlook the harbour. I’m greeted with a vast bright reception and buzzy lounge, but happily the atmosphere is still surprisingly calm, with a grand piano coaxing me to rest my travel-weary head on a plush floral cushion.

The Facts: Opened in 1997 by Nelson Mandela, the most famous inmate of nearby Robben Island, the hotel’s 329 rooms and suites offer views of either the Atlantic or iconic Table Mountain. The enormous, sumptuous beds – the best are four posters – are fit for a princess (well I did say it was the magic kingdom castle), and rooms are an elegant blend of neutral hues, traditional dark wooden furniture and a few patterns. My ginormous marble bathroom glimmers, a standard set for every surface as I get lost in this polished hotel. The peaceful conservatory lounge and terrace is dotted with guests guzzling champagne afternoon tea, but I decide to catch some rays and go for a dip on the rooftop pool terrace, home to a small Camelot spa (did I mention fairy tale?).  For moodily lit cigars and cocktails I head to the ground floor Union Bar, where the mahogany counter is lined with signature “Brasserie Tickles” cocktails. For something lighter, guests can try the local Table Bay Hotel micro-brewed ale. Camissa Brasserie, named after the Khosian word for Cape Town, is the relaxed evening meal choice, with views over the twinkling harbour. For wine buff clients, the hotel’s dedicated wine room is a trump card – and convenient way to sample some Western Cape vino. 

A Good Base For: Exploring the historical remnants of the Waterfront by foot, or if you prefer a faster pace, the Waterfront has bikes for hire. Boat trips to World Heritage site Robben Island leave moments from the doorstep – an almost compulsory chance to learn more about Nelson Mandela’s life and South Africa’s long walk to freedom. Just a few minutes away is Cape Town stadium. Built for the 2010 World Cup, it makes the hotel especially convenient for those in town to watch concerts or football matches in one of the world’s most spectacular settings. A romantic sunset cruise for one was too much for me to resist, before I joined the well-heeled crowds descending on the Waterfront for al fresco supper in one of the many buzzing restaurants. Like me, shoppers may get lost in the maze that is Victoria Wharf shopping centre, but the big Ferris wheel is a handy meeting point, and a bit of fun. When it’s time to explore the rest of Cape Town, there’s a reliable hop on hop off bus departing nearby, which the hotel recommends for a convenient ride around the peninsula’s honeypots of Clifton and Camps Bay, home of the beautiful people. Just remember the sun cream.

Wow: Breakfast. A lavish affair with a staggering 300 items (everyone keeps telling me this, I didn’t stop to count). Nevertheless, I’m impressed.  I endeavour to try every single option, but my perfectly cooked eggs benedict was a rookie mistake, so unfortunately I only make it to 150. The Table Bay Hotel breakfast is a relaxed banquet to savour instead of a functional meal.  With a live musician tinkling away throughout, the experience is garnished with a surprisingly likeable grand piano rendition of – wait for it – Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball.

How Much: Nightly rates start from R3124 (approx. £178) per room per night based on two sharing on a bed and breakfast basis.