“Visit Cape Town and history is never far from your grasp. It lingers in the air, a scent on the breezy, an explanation of circumstance.. ”
–Tahir Shah, Travels With Myself
Cape Town is a city so uniquely stunning it’s difficult to put into words. I look forward to going back and spending more than a few days. The beaches, the views, the food, are all incomparable. The feeling of setting foot in Africa for the first time overwhelmed me, as did knowing I was about to venture out on my first safari. Staying at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel was the perfect way to begin the journey. I began to feel like I was on safari the moment I stepped into the lobby.
I stayed at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town during my Bushtrack safari trip to South Africa and Zambia.
The hotel is a pink oasis set right at the foot of the majestic Table Mountain. As my taxi took me from the airport into the city, Table Mountain loomed in front of me, almost resembling a giant foot jutting out from the landscape as the backdrop to the entire city.
PRETTY IN PINK!
I was so fixated by the mountain that the immense splash of pink jolted me as I approached the hotel, and my eyes tore away from the mountain in awe. My gasps of delight prompted my driver to divulge his knowledge of the place, with a bit of history…
The Mount Nelson Hotel first opened in 1899, and was the first property in Cape Town with hot and cold running water. In November 1918, it was painted pink for peace, as a celebration of the ending of World War I. Since then, many noble and famous people have made temporary homes here, such as Winston Churchill, John Lennon, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela himself.
“They call it the Blushing Icon of Cape Town,”
my driver said, and the moniker could not be more accurate. Pink is the color of hope, love and passion; three qualities that I would come to understand the importance of. Pink embodies the feeling of the vibrance of Cape Town and its residents.
Over the last 100 years, the entire property has been beautifully restored and updated several times, to keep everything looking exquisite.
A GARDEN SETTING IN THE HEART OF CAPE TOWN
The car drove into the large, palm tree-lined driveway, past lush lawns with flower beds, to the grand porticoed entrance. As I stepped inside, the comfortable opulence of the lobby felt just right. The lobby had lavish, yet welcoming, furnishings, and was decorated with leafy potted palms. A mix of classic and modern, with a splash of safari tropical.
As I was shown to my room at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, I was told many of the staff have worked here for decades. And as such, are intimately knowledgeable about the hotel and can give excellent recommendations on how to best enjoy the property and the city. Inside, my recently renovated room exuded calm and serenity, with a four-poster king-sized bed, toile wallpaper, an elegant marble bathroom, Venetian mirrors, and rich fabrics. Old-world charm is putting it lightly.
Victorian cottages are also available, overlooking an adults-only pool and offering a more secluded and private experience.
The hotel’s eight spa treatment rooms at Librisa Spa Retreat are tucked away in a heritage Victorian building, very tranquil and quiet. Aromatherapy is alive and well here, the spa uses locally made, plant-based Africology products that smell like heaven, and have nourishing, restorative properties for the skin.
THE DINING EXPERIENCE
For dinner, I chose to eat out in the city since I only had a few days to enjoy Cape Town. However, the Lord Nelson Restaurant, which overlooks the main swimming pool and garden, is highly recommended. Everything is prepared fresh, from local ingredients.
Outside in the hotel courtyard, one can lounge poolside underneath swaying palm trees. Nine acres of sprawling gardens landscaped in English country garden style miraculously dampen the city traffic, providing the perfect setting for an afternoon tea or cocktail on the terrace. The hotel’s Oasis Bistro offers drinks and light bites for those who want to indulge by the pool. They also serve breakfast, which is included in the room rate.
The Mount Nelson Hotel also has another restaurant, Chef’s Table. A unique culinary experience where dishes are prepared right before your eyes by the executive chef.
BOOK YOUR CHOICE OF ACTIVITY
The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel offers an array of bookable tours such as wine tours, walking tours and sidecar adventures. On-site activities such as painting classes, tennis and yoga promise to keep you busy during the day when you are not out and about exploring the vibrancy of the city itself.
As part of my safari package with Bushtracks, I spent two full days with a personal tour guide. One day he took me to see the penguin colony at Boulders Beach, to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and up to Table Mountain. The next day I had an unforgettable experience wine tasting and exploring the nearby region of Stellenbosch.
The 5-star hotel indulged me at every turn. From the exquisite design to the delectable breakfasts to my incredible room. There was not a thing missing during my stay.
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