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Travel writing often comes with a catch 22. It is hard to write a personalized location guide if you don’t know a destination well and for that, we are often ridiculed. How can you write a top anything if you have spent all but 48 hours in a place? Too much time is spent with trial and error that we are usually grateful to get at least one decent meal in ourselves. Alternatively, you can use online research to write an article, not something your reader will usually like – after all, your readers come here for you and your expertise and voice. But if you actually live in a place and know it really well, chances are you haven’t stayed at many hotels or know the local co-working scene all that well. And unless you a total foodie, always searching for something new. you may just go to the same old watering holes over and over again making the whole location guide thing another sort of conundrum.
With that said, I struggled for a long time to decide on writing a comprehensive guide to the best Cape Town accommodation because the truth is the number of times I have slept in a hotel in South Africa is limited to approximately five. However, I am in the unique position to not only have a few couches at my disposal but also having worked in the production industry meaning I have seen a lot of Cape Town hotels from the inside and know the good, the bad and the ugly thanks to my clients.
So I am not just going to introduce you to the presumingly best hotels in Cape Town but the ones that I would actually send my friends and family to – for all budgets and in my favorite Cape Town areas. All those areas are reasonably safe (have a look at my Cape Town guide for some very honest and practical advice about safety), are easy to reach either by Uber or with a rental car, and are quite charming in one way or another.
I haven’t given prices as they change too much depending on the season but the first one in each suburb is the one if you are looking for cheap accommodation in Cape Town (though cheap is relative in certain parts of the city). If you know the area you want to stay at click on the link below to jump ahead or just scroll through to get inspired.
Where to stay in Cape Town
Tamboerskloof & Higgovale
Tamboerskloof, Higgovale, Gardens, Oranjezicht – these are all adjacent areas on the foot of Table Mountain and some favorite residential areas. Beautiful Victorian houses and some more modern blocks of flats are part of the scenery as are the views of Table Mountain.
Since there are mostly residential you won’t find many shops and only the occasional restaurant here but they are all close to the Garden Centre mall and Kloof Street as well as the rest of town.
If I had to pick the one place where to stay in Cape Town this would be it – La Grenadine. This guest house off Kloof Street is as quaint and pretty as it gets. It comes with charming French owners, a dog, of course, a beautiful garden full of pomegranate trees and the nicest interior.
It is tiny, stylish, and intimate and in addition, it is located within walking distance of some of the best Cape Town restaurants and the coolest bars on Kloof Street.
Kensington Palace is the quintessential boutique hotel in Cape Town and located in Higgovale. It is close to all the city has to offer and is still wonderfully off the grid.
There are only 8 rooms so this is the perfect place if you like it intimate and quaint. Even better they have a beautiful terrace for stunning views of Table Mountain and even a small pool to cool down in the summer.
The City Bowl is the are of town where most business live as well as a big array of shopping streets, restaurants, and bars. The further down you get to Strand Street the less there is to do and see unless you go to work but Long Street, Bree Street, and anything in between is always busy and well worth a visit.
Staying here you will be in the thick of things which can be very convenient or very exhausting, maybe both. You will be able to walk to many places (mind you, watch your belongings as always in Cape Town) but unfortunately will be literally stuck when rush hour strikes. With that said, both hotel options I have selected have an awesome rooftop to enjoy the city away from the hectic streets.
Grand Daddy Airstream Trailer
I can’t say much about Grand Daddy as a hotel overall but it is mostly known for its silver streamers on the roof in any case. All the trailers are outfitted by different artists and there is something for every taste: from a cute Goldilocks trailer to a racy one called Lace of Love (don’t stay here if your boyfriend just dumped you, seriously, I am speaking from experience!).
There is also a great rooftop bar and a weekly open-air movie screening.
Gorgeous George has just opened this year and is the first South African hotel which is part of Design Hotels and looks the part. Sleek, modern, and smack bang in the middle of town – if you are looking for a cool hotel to sleep in Cape Town, I reckon this is the place for you.
V&A Waterfront – Luxury Hotels in Cape Town
The V&A Waterfront is one of the most touristic areas in Cape Town and with good reason. From here you can reach the infamous Robben Island, take a harbor or sunset cruise, find fancy shops and family malls, a ferries wheel and amazing views of Table Mountain.
Personally, I wouldn’t stay there but if you want to be in the thick of things, won’t have a rental car and still want easy access to the rest of the city and some of its main attractions this is the place. Mind you, staying at the V&A Waterfront doesn’t come cheap and you will look in vain for smaller boutique hotels or guest houses. Quite on the contrary, this is the place where some of the nicest 5-star hotels in Cape Town are located and I shall introduce you to my favorites.
Many of my clients used to stay at the Radisson Blu and when it comes to a decent international hotel brand, it is one of my favorites. An added highlight at the Radisson Blu Waterfront is the stunning terrace and their infinity pool which is a great place to chill with a view of the Atlantic, the V&A Waterfront and a bottle of rosé on your table.
The Cape Grace is the grande dame when it comes to places to stay in Cape Town. I think every city has one of those hotels – a hotel where the rich and famous stay at but not the flashy kind, but the understated, the ones with old money, the presidents and politicians and maybe the queen. However, you would never know because absolute discretion is key here. If you are looking for old world charm and impeccable service and generally have a place to take your parents to, the Cape Grace is it.
If you are a day guest make sure to visit their whiskey bar Bascule, which is also a great and fancy option for New Year’s Eve in Cape Town.
The Silo Hotel
If Lex Luther was real, he would stay at the Silo Hotel. Located as the name implies in an old silo, this hotel is the latest hot spot in Cape Town and with good reasons. The rooms are stunning and the view from the diamond-shaped windows is to die for. Where to stay in Cape Town if you want to do it for the ‘gram? The Silo Hotel is the place! Mind you, if you can’t afford their rather steep room prices their rooftop restaurant is open to the public with a reservation and well worth a visit.
Green Point & Sea Point
Green Point is a local favorite – it is relaxed, close to the ocean and the city, and despite its famous stadium wonderfully local. Main Road isn’t my favorite and can get a bit dodgy at night but that shouldn’t deter you because it is so easy to get around from Green Point and there are some great restaurant options in the vicinity.
Sea Point is another residential favorite and not only for its promenade that stretches along Beach Road. It is a little old school here but in a good way. Sea Point was the first area I ever lived in when I moved to Cape Town and when I drive by these days and smell the ocean, I get incredibly nostalgic.
Backpackers in Green Point aka B.I.G. is a great looking backpackers Cape Town that offers single rooms (always important for me as you know) as well as dorms. In addition, the location is great and you have some beautiful common areas including a pool at your disposal.
Head South Lodge
The Head South Lodge is a great choice if you are looking for one of those easy boutique hotels, Cape Town – beautiful, unassuming, and authentic. Bordering on Sea Point you are in walking vicinity to the Sea Point promenade, the Mouille Point lighthouse, and many shops and restaurants.
There was a time when it felt like I lived at the Cape Royale because we had so many clients staying there. Not that I minded very much because their all-suite concept and mixture of contemporary style with old world charm works quite well. Especially if you are in town for business or traveling with small kids I love the idea of having a suite with a kitchen and living room as well as many shops and restaurants in walking distance – it is the perfect self-catering accommodation in Cape Town.
Another highlight is their rooftop pool and bar which has the best views over the stadium, the ocean, and the city – if the wind is not howling that is.
The Winchester Mansions is the one and only hotel in Sea Point that I truly like. It is located right on the Sea Point promenade and you will have a direct ocean view from some of the rooms.
The interior is classic with a bit of old world charm. I love their leafy courtyard and the hotel’s Harvey’s Bar is a great place for a sundowner. And of course, you can roll out of bed and go for a run along the Atlantic.
Camps Bay & Clifton
Clifton is an exclusive residential area and the fanciest you will find in Cape Town. Some serious money lives here. Just know that there is no shops or restaurants in Clifton, you will need to drive to Sea Point or Camps Bay which are close by. However, in summer the area gets incredibly busy and congested thanks to the city’s favorite beaches Clifton 1st – 4th. Not a big issue but something to be mindful of.
If you want to stay here I recommend one of many villas in Cape Town if you have the cash to spare that is. Alternatively, there is a nice Airbnb option you can check out.
After Clifton Camps Bay is next on the way out of town. Oh man, I have such a hate-hate relationship with Camps Bay that I am having a really hard time to even include it in this list. Camps Bay is horribly pretentious and has seen its fair share of safety issues lately. Mind you, my main issue is the first – this is prime property thanks to its beautiful beaches, tourists love it and unfortunately it shows. All the restaurants and bars are showey with mediocre food, bad service, and steep prices and chances are you will not have that ocean view you came for with your meal.
That said, I understand why Cape Town first-timers might be drawn to Camps Bay. It is a great place if you are looking for easy access to the Camps Bay tidal pool, Glen Beach, and the Clifton beaches as well of course to Camps Bay beach itself.
The strip is dominated by the Table Bay hotel which looks just as pretentious as the surrounding restaurants however, I have not ever been inside so maybe I shouldn’t judge. Still, I would recommend you stay at …
This cool little gem is located right at the corner of Victoria Road at the beginning of Camps Bay which means you are not in the thick of things but right next door. And of course, you can smell and see the ocean from here. The design is sleek and cool and they are one of the most eco-friendly hotels I have come across in Cape Town so this would be my Camps Bay hotel of choice.
Hout Bay is one of my favorite areas in Cape Town, so much so that I am in the process of writing an entire Hout Bay guide and why you should go there.
Hout Bay is wonderfully suburban and relaxed but unlike the other beach boroughs, it is quite unpretentious. From here you have easy access to the beautiful beach in Llandudno, Constantia and its wine farms as well as Chapman’s Peak which will take you to Noordhoek and Cape Point. Already driving into Hout Bay is a stunner because Victoria Road from Cape Town must be the most beautiful coastal road in the world, especially during sunset.
Hout Bay is definitely a family neighborhood so if you are also traveling with kids this is a great choice. If you are looking for one of the nicest houses in the area, check out my friend’s Claire’s house which she rents via Airbnb. I have stayed there a few times myself and can vouch for it – this place is a stunner and seems to get the best sunsets.
Hout Bay Manor
During my last visit, I stayed at the Hout Bay Manor one of the few boutique hotels in the area that is truly to my liking. The rooms offer such a nice mix of traditional South African design and modern touches and the service is incredible. In addition, they have a chilled little pool area and offer a variety of events which are a huge draw to the locals in Hout Bay – always a good sign.
There are few hotels with a more stunning setting than Tintswalo Atlantic. Located right by the ocean on the way from Hout Bay to Chapman’s Peak this is the place for romantic couples and nature lovers.
All the rooms are individually decorated and quite a few have an awesome ocean view from the comfort of your bathtub. Alternatively, you can chill in the pool while staring out at the ocean.
Constantia is another one of those areas often underrated by visitors when they are looking where to stay in Cape Town. Quite a pity I think because while Constantia is as suburban as it gets it is also incredibly beautiful and leafy. You are not very close to the city center but as long as you avoid rush hour traffic, it is an easy drive.
On the other hand, you are close to Muizenberg and Boulders Beach, some great golf courses, and a myriad of hiking trails. And of course, there are some of the best Cape Town wine farms right at your doorstep if you are staying in Constantia.
Dongola House is run by my friends Mike and Sally which I met years ago during a Greenpop event. Their guest house always gets the highest accolades and is as charming as they come. If you are not a fan of big hotels and rather want an authentic South African experience while still having a really comfortable bed, this is the place for you – one of the best guest houses in Cape Town!
The Cellars-Hohenort is a quintessential Constantia place – elegant, understated and very green. Their gardens are a beautiful place for a stroll and their Greenhouse Restaurant is one of the best fine dining restaurants in Cape Town.
This would be a place I would choose for a honeymoon or a special occasion with your lover – hide in a green jungle, have the yummiest food right in front of your doorsteps, and hibernate for a few nights.
Woodstock is one of those industrial areas which has been up and coming for the past 15 years and is still not quite there yet. That is not to say it is not a cool place to see or even stay. You will find some of the best street art and definitely some of the best shopping in Cape Town in addition to galleries and hip businesses. In addition, Woodstock is home to the Old Biscuit Mill with its Neighborgood Market on Saturdays and the one and only Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Club.
There are few Cape Town hotels in Woodstock and I think it is one of those neighborhoods best explored from a cool Airbnb or self-catering accommodation in Cape Town. Here are some of my favorites:
DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Town Upper Eastside
If you wanted to stay at a proper hotel, I can highly recommend the DoubleTree by Hilton which invited me for a night when I told them about this post. I had seen the inside before with clients and remember being impressed.
While it may seem like a business hotel only, I think it makes for a great little city hotel at a really decent price. Check-in comes with a warm chocolate chip cookie, rooms are simple yet comfortable, and best of all (and not a given in Cape Town) – the wifi is free and really fast.
I also liked their in-house restaurant which had some of the friendliest service I have come across in a Cape Town hotel and offers a nice mix of classics as well as local favorites on their menu.
While there are quite a few cool businesses in the vicinity I will say that Main Road in Woodstock is still not a place I would walk at night. Take an Uber and you won’t have to worry about a thing, alternatively, the DoubleTree has a huge parking garage where your rental will sleep safe and sound.
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