Mount Nelson has been Cape Town’s grande dame since 1899 (the land on which it’s built, now a nine-acre haven in the heart of the city, was known as Oudtshoorn Gardens back in 1743, and its floral ambiance continues exuberantly to this day). High Tea is a Mount Nelson trademark, along with the exacting and cheery service that makes it one of our favourite South African hotels. Its central location makes city-wandering easy, and the hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to the bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a Capetonian must-visit.
Mount Nelson’s rooms and suites are individually decorated in soothing whites and beiges, and all feature a sitting area and marble bathroom, widescreen television, full internet connectivity, and, of course, 24-hour attentiveness from the hotel’s famously solicitous staff.
The hotel’s Planet Restaurant & Bar, Chef’s Table, and Oasis Bistro all pay tribute to Cape Town’s burgeoning food scene—though that classic High Tea’s delicate smoked salmon, roast beef, egg mayonnaise, and cucumber finger sandwiches, its table-fulls of fresh pastries and scones, and its world-wide selection of teas might make dinner superfluous.
Other Mount Nelson highlights: two heated pools; a well-equipped fitness centre; the Signature Boutique (which offers marvelous Zulu beadwork and hand-stitched embroidery); a hair salon; two activity centres, one for younger kids and another for teens; and, last, but very charmingly, Nellie, as the grand hotel is affectionately known, presents us with views of Table Mountain, often, as David Livingstone wrote in 1841, “draped in a beautiful table cloth of fleecy clouds.”