Aaaah Capetown, a city very close to my heart. Even though I’ve been coming here for almost 20 years now, it still gives me goosebumps every time I get the first glimpse of Table Mountain or the nearby Winelands. I must be true love. Over the years I’ve stayed in all kinds of accommodation in-and outside the city centre, but for some reason I kept pushing a stay at the Belmond Mount Nelson out. Though as I was celebrating my 40th birthday a few weeks ago this was the perfect time to book ourselves a stay at the “Nellie” following our trip to the Kalahari (read all about that part of the trip in the Tswalu Kalahari review).
It’s hard to find a more central location in Capetown. Within walking distance of most hotspots and right next to Kloof street and Long Street, both boosting some of the best vibes in town. Also very close to the beautiful Bo-kaap neighborhood with its colorful houses and countless instagrammable areas. Those who are fan of the big bus tours, there’s a stop right in front at the entrance of the hotel. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a nice 45 min leisurely stroll while you can just cross the street and enjoy the green lung of the Company’s Garden.
The hotel celebrated its 120th birthday in 2019. Back in the early days it was the only hotel where travelers could find the same luxury and comfort as the best hotels in London and Paris (most visitors were coming from western Europe). The pink color which stands out so bright today, was only added in 1918 as a sign of peace and to celebrate the end of World War 1. In 1988 the hotel was bought by the Oriënt-Express Hotels (known as Belmond since 2014). A serious renovation of the entire hotel was done not so long ago and since 2018 Belmond is part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group. As a result it is in the perfect position to tackle the next few decennia and to remain one of the crown jewels in the South African travel industry.
We stayed in a deluxe one bedroom suite. I like the sense of space when I stay in hotels, and in this case I wasn’t disappointed. When entering the suite there is a guest bathroom to the left with further down the corridor the bedroom, while on the right side there’s a separate living and dining area. As the room was located at the end of the hotel wing we enjoyed a 270 degree view over Signal Hill, Capetown city center and even part of Table Mountain. A luxury only few other hotel rooms in the city will be able to offer you. The suite radiates peace and quiet and thanks to the soft tones it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle. Even though its age, all the modern amenities are available in the room (surely the latest renovations can take the most credit for this) and you can clearly feel the Belmond brand coming through, ever so slightly yet just enough to make it feel close to perfection.
The western cape is known for its amazing gastronomy, and often first time visitors will be surprised by the quality and diversity which they’ll find in the area. So, you can imagine Belmond Mount Nelson had to come up with something stunning in order to keep the guests happy, and attract people from outside its walls too. And boy, did they succeed. First, there’s the Lord Nelson restaurant which is located in one of the most amazing dining rooms in Capetown. It’s like going back in time, even the chairs are from a bygone era as they’re the original ones from first class on the old Union-Castle ships. The wooden panels, tapestries crystal chandelier only emphasize the atmosphere which goes back to those days where ships were the only means of transport that would get to the cape. Another unique and gastronomic experience which you really need to try is the Chef’s Table. Hidden in the massive kitchen of the hotel, you’ll find this little restaurant where the daily menu is decided by the produce that are available that day, making sure your food is as fresh as possible. And while you’re enjoying the culinary masterpieces you can experience the atmosphere and buzz that is going around in the kitchen. Personally one of the highlights of the hotel.
For those who love afternoon teas, there’s good news too as the Mount Nelson hotel is renowned (in-and outside the city) for its traditional English afternoon tea. I suggest making reservations upfront as I was already too late, which might also be because it was during the weekend when people have more time to enjoy all the yummy food and tea.
It’s a given for a luxury hotel of this caliber to have an equally impressive spa, where guests can experience a whole new level of relaxation. Hence why the Librisa Spa not only attracts a lot of hotel guests, but also outside visitors. Also, you can bring the kids along as they are well taken care of in the kids club while mummy and daddy are having some well-deserved relax time. This service is also available if you would come over to dine in one of the restaurants or just popping by to have a drink at the cozy Planet Bar.
The hotel offers a shuttle service to and from the V&A Waterfront multiple times a day. For me that’s a big plus as it gives you the opportunity to go there hassle free without having to look for a parking spot or trying to catch an Uber that doesn’t seem to find you for the pick-up.
Rather be more active during your stay? Not a problem as there are 2 tennis courts where you can try to become the new Federer. There’s also 2 swimming pools where you can burn those extra calories which you gained thanks to all the delicious food at the hotel. And finally there’s the beautifully maintained garden which is massive, especially if you look at the location of the hotel. A small army of gardeners make sure you feel like walking through the gardens of Versailles and it’s the perfect way to relax in a lush green atmosphere without even having to leave the hotel. A real gem in the center of a metropolis like Capetown.
All the wait was really worth it. The Belmond Mount Nelson is a place you need to book when you want to spend time in the city but also want to enjoy all the luxury it has to offer. The room felt like a second home and food wise it surely deserves its spot in the Cape. All the staff are super friendly and helpful which surely add to the overall experience. It remains a historical building, so if you are looking for sleek lines and minimalistic interiors, you might want to look elsewhere. But the history that comes with the hotel, together with the quality and luxury Belmond is known for, should persuade you to stay here as it will almost certainly over-deliver on your expectations.
Guest Blog: Text and Images by Kristof Eyckmans @KEyckmans