I woke up at Cape Grace Hotel and Spa, flung open the French doors, and let the outdoors stream in. It was a beautiful summer's day in Cape Town, the sun already glistening on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront marina our room overlooks. It was my first full day here after checking in late the previous afternoon, and I was excited to get the day started. However, with the blockout curtains and impossibly comfortable bed, I ended up sleeping a lot deeper and longer than I thought I would. But it was finally time to go and explore what makes Cape Grace Hotel and Spa one of the best places to stay in Cape Town...
If These Walls Could Talk
You'll find yourself getting lost in the halls of Cape Grace. Not because it's confusing, but there's so much to see. The Dutch Colonial décor whispers stories of the past as you walk past the treasures. Think museum merged with a hotel.
We were walking on our way to breakfast when one of the staff members told us the story of the very uncomfortable "Riempie Bankie". This chair is made with your standard wooden structure, but the seat part if made with strips of worked leather, crisscrossed across.
They said that, back in the day, families often had one in their homes. So, when their daughter's boyfriend wanted to come to visit, he had to sit there. Because it was so uncomfortable, the date would not last long! I chuckled at this as I could definitely imagine my dad doing the same!
However, the true origin of this chair dates back to the early 1800s, when settlers needed to create a very lightweight chair to move around with them.
A Scent That Follows You
One of my favourite things about Cape Grace is the scent. You're likely thinking: wait, what? Well, they have an interesting approach to their hotel offering that I really enjoyed.
Think back to one of your most treasured memories. Perhaps it's cooking with your grandmother, running through the fields as a child, all those times visiting your beach holiday home. Well, if you really think about it, many of these memories bring back a particular scent. You might not be able to describe it, but you feel like, if you think hard enough, you can still smell your grandmother's signature stew you were cooking together.
Cape Grace Hotel and Spa decided to enhance the guest experience by blending their very own signature scent. They release this through the air vents throughout the hotel, and, well, it smells heavenly! It reminded me of my own childhood days on safari, staying in a thatched roof lodge, surrounded by fynbos, a distinctive South African vegetation.
The idea was to take all of the hotel's experiences and bring them together, blending their different scents. For example, the leather used in the décor, the Cape Malay spices used in the kitchen, the fynbos flourishing everywhere around you in Cape Town, and many more.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront on Your Doorstep
The Victoria & Alfred, or V&A, Waterfront is one of Cape Town's star attractions. And you can quite literally stroll out of the hotel and right into the centre of this hub of bustling restaurants, shops, and other entertainment galore. You can spend days on end exploring the tastes, sights, and sounds!
There are also plenty of boats and luxury yachts rocking patiently in the harbour, waiting for you to board for a bubbly and sunset cruise. I'm pretty sure there have been plenty of proposals on those cruises!
Then there's the Cape Town Wheel, an observation wheel where you can see 360-degree views of it all unfolding below you from a bird's-eye view, complete with a VIP room, a black gondola with tinted windows, leather seats, a glass floor, music, and a bottle of bubbly. Guess that's another popular proposal spot! Well, to be honest, Cape Town's full of them.
A Whisky Experience
After spending a full day exploring the V&A Waterfront, it was time to relax a bit and enjoy the view from our room. But not for too long, because I've heard many stories about Cape Grace Hotel and Spa's Bascule Whisky Bar.
After getting dressed up a bit for the occasion, we walk down a staircase into the bar, and it feels like we're entering a secret club in Monaco. If you don't drink whisky, the barman might judge silently (just kidding), but there is an expertly curated wine list, as well as an innovative cocktail menu. Naturally, many of these are whisky-based.
They also have some nibbles you can order like South Africans' favourite, biltong, nuts, olives, and more. Or, if you're feeling a bit more peckish than that, you can choose from dishes like salt and pepper squid, risotto, salmon fish cakes, Wagyu beef burger, and more.
We were lucky enough to be whisked (or, should I say, whisky-ed) away on one of these experiences ourselves. A whiskey connoisseur took us through whiskies paired with different bites. For example, one combination that blew my mind (and taste buds) were blue cheese paired with a peaty Highland Park 12 year whisky. Usually, I wouldn't say I like peaty whiskies, but once I tasted the blue cheese and then took a sip of the whisky, it completely transformed into a smooth, delicious taste. (Editor's note: Cape Grace is currently only offering self tastings during afternoon tea.)
This really ended the night on a good note, and we happily made our way to our rooms for another night of deep snoozing.
Drifting Off to Cloud Nine
After breakfast in the hotel the following morning, we were giddy with excitement to get to the spa. I love a spa on any normal day, but I've heard good things about this specific one and was more than keen to try it out.
When we walked, the calm, smiling staff greeted us in soft voices, and it was time to decide what treatment we specifically wanted to try.
I was feeling adventurous on the day (when in Ro-ahem, Cape Town right?) and opted for the massage but with cupping. Now, if you've never heard of cupping, it's basically glass cups that suck onto your back, which then glide along your back. It was such a strangely delightful sensation and very stress-relieving. I felt like I melted right into the massage bed and all the way through all the hotel floors to reception. Yup, it was that good!
When I was awakened from my trance, my massage therapist gently guided me to the main area, where I sipped on a green juice and reflected on what had just transpired. All I can say is that it was by far the best massage I've had in my life so far. I'd be happy to volunteer if anyone thinks they can beat it, though!
Farewell Cape Grace Hotel and Spa
When we had to check out, I kept trying to find a longer route out. I meandered down the hallways, inspecting the artefacts. As I finally walked back to my car, I already missed the embrace of this hotel. Because that's truly what it felt like. It was a celebration of all your senses, from the food you feasted on, drinks you sipped on and the unbelievably cushy bed you slept on, view of the gently rocking yachts on the marina, to the general hospitality, and of course, that signature scent, that really helped make this stay special.
I don't know when, but I'll definitely be back.
Cape Grace Hotel and Spa Highlights
- It's great for anyone from individuals, couples, and families
- Some of their suites are family-oriented with special children turndown, and they offer fun family activities like African storytime and gingerbread decorating
- Onsite library where you can enjoy a nightcap and perhaps some games
- Shower rooms for those late evening fights
- Prime location to explore Cape Town's top attractions
- The restaurants, spa, and Bascule whiskey lounge are all top-notch
See You at Cape Grace Hotel and Spa
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