Cape Town is my favorite holiday city on the planet. I may not have visited every major urban center around the world but I have done some traveling.
You know those big name metropolises that you see on the packaging of luxury brand names? Well I have spent a holiday or two in them so I think my opinion is worth something.
Thankfully Cape Town doesn’t rate on the list of top 100 livable cities in the world. I have visited some of these cities and they are lovely but oh so boring. More than a two day stay and you find yourself in bed early on the third night watching TV.
When visiting the Mother City, on the other hand, it is advisable to leave after about 5 days, preferably for a visit to the most livable city on the planet, because you’ll need the rest and recuperation.
Cape Town has so much to offer
What makes this city such an awesome destination? It is very simply the incredible diversity.
There is an overwhelming amount of natural beauty. Place Table Mountain (Lion’s Head or the Twelve Apostles) in the middle of any other urban sprawl and it would make it feel like it had makeover.
Don’t forget the wine farms, beaches, whale watching, Robben Island, V&A Waterfront, diving, penguins, shark cage diving, paragliding, castle, mountain biking, hiking and so on and so on. Give me all or even some of these in exchange for a city with no potholes or an electrical grid that isn’t always, well, on.
There are also the scenic drives such as Chapmans Peak and the road from Gordon’s Bay to Betty’s Bay that few places on the planet, let alone those with in a city’s limits, can compare.
Oh yes, there are also more plant species on the slopes of the aforementioned mountains than there are in the whole of the United States of America – sorry Texas, you don’t win that one.
Of course this is the only conurbation that lies on the seven seas that separates two of them, and, being Cape Town, it does so in an incredibly dramatic style too.
This interesting phenomena creates another experience unique to the Tavern of the Seas – you can watch the sun rise out of the ocean and watch it set into the ocean within the same municipal boundary.
The soul of the city
All this and we haven’t even touched on the soul of this spirited and lively city – the people.
There are eleven official languages in South Africa, all of which are spoken in Cape Town.
South Africa has become home to just about every nationality in sub-Sahara Africa too. Most of these incredible people have had the guts to leave their home and travel through great hardship to reach Mzanzi and Cape Town.
They may have left poverty, famine, war, strife or despotic rule but they have brought entrepreneurial zeal and a wealth of culture.
At the opposite end of the economic scale are all those Europeans who have chosen to retire to the Fairest Cape where their ample savings and great currency exchanges allow them to live exceptionally well.
Walk the streets of Cape Town and you will hear more languages than at a United Nations General Assembly.
Thanks to this diversity the city has an extraordinary wealth of eating establishments. Where most cities have a franchise outlet on every corner selling good packaging and nothing much else, Cape Town is filled with restaurants offering everything from fresh fish and chips to sophisticated menus fused from the best that every local culture has to offer.
The music, whether from a DJ or a musician, found in the night clubs, pubs and sidewalk buskers, reflects the amazing array of cultures that call Cape Town their home.
One of the great places to visit is the Pan African Market in Long Street. Filled with more colours than the rainbow, dialects than an airport and packed with every kind of souvenir and collectible, it is a must see.
I love walking the streets of this city, particularly in the City Bowl or Sea Point. The ingenuity of the beggars, the variety of smells, the mountainous backdrop, the hubbub of voices and the hooting of the taxis give this city character and life.
Take a seat in a coffee shop and just watch the people walking by. No two people are alike. Cape Town has no little gray men or mousy woman.
The timid tourists on their first day of their first visit to the Dark Continent stand out in stark contrast with the large and brash West Africans. Outlandish shoo-wow hippies walk the same pavements as the sedate Moslem ladies in their burqas.
The self-assured locals of every hue and colour are determined, as Cape Townians, to be independent in style.
Everybody is friendly too – from the impeccably dressed models to the smiling Zimbabwean waiters, people seem to be very happy to live and work in this great city.
Yip, for diversity you will find few places to match Cape Town. Never boring, always exciting, this is the best holiday city on the planet.
Gardens and Sea Point are the two best places to stay in Cape Town
Cape Town is huge and divided by mountain ranges that are higher than those that run through the British Isles. The weather and even the culture, varies tremendously from one part of the city to another because of these bulky natural boundaries.
My two favourite places to stay when visiting the city are Gardens and Sea Point. Both are close to the city center and within easy walking distance of markets, shops, restaurants, pubs and night clubs. Step out your door and walk a few paces and you will find a bus stop. Most of the top tourist attractions like Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront are a very inexpensive cab ride away.
Camp Street, in Gardens, in particular is a good place to find accommodation. This street is far enough away from the bustle of the CBD to be relatively quiet but close enough to walk to all the places of interest in the area, particularly Kloof Street with its host of restaurants, pubs and night clubs.
I can highly recommend two places to stay in Camp Street; 9 on Camp Villas and InAWEstays.
If you are looking for a secure and convenient base for your stay in Cape Town, then this is the place for you.
On a recent occasion I flew into Cape Town on a late, delayed flight and was worried about checking in to 9 on Camp. I need not have worried. I was let in remotely and my key and gate buzzer were easily accessible through a secure key box at the entrance to my apartment.
If you have a busy schedule or are in Cape Town for a long stay then these apartments are perfect.
If you’re traveling in a group or as a family it is possible book interconnected apartments too.
Each suite has a kitchen, lounge, bedroom and bathroom and are well furnished with everything you may need from a washing machine to a TV and Wi-F.
I was particularly impressed by the contemporary styled kitchen and the modern, sparkling bathroom.
The bedroom can be fitted with a double bed or two single beds.
The apartments are serviced once per week (additional service is on request)
The apartments are private and there is no central lounge or dining area. You are provided with keys for access and then largely left to yourself for your stay.
There is secure off-street parking but to be honest I find it more convenient to walk or use a e-hailed cab because most of what you may need is such a short distance away.
Located a bit further up the hill from 9 on Camp Villas but just as close to Kloof Street, InAwestays offers more of a personal experience.
Owned and managed by a family, you can expect expert advice on where to go and what to do. The apartments are very stylish and extremely comfortable.
Originally the manse for the nearby church, InAwestays, is revolves around a beautiful old building that oozes character. There are a variety of apartments to choose from, one of which, House Awe, can accommodate up to 8 guests.
The apartments also have all the amenities that you may require for a self-catering stay. For those who want to take time out to relax from their busy schedule, there is a swimming pool, shaded veranda and large lawn.
I was particularly impressed with my suite, the Garden Cottage. Apart from being very comfortable (the underfloor heating was so welcome on my midwinter stay), the styling is something to behold.
I later discovered that one of the owners was an interior stylist and writer for one of the top fashion and interior magazines.
Off street parking, Wi-Fi, friendly and welcoming service and a beautiful setting make this a great place to stay for a sedate and relaxed visit to the mother city.
InAWEStays is located at 34 Camp Street, Gardens, Cape Town. For bookings, call +27 (0) 83 658 6975 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, visit them online at www.inawestays.co.za. Here is their location on Google Maps. Also follow them on Facebook HERE.
If you are looking to stay in Sea Point with its close proximity to the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay and the host of entertainment found on Sea Point Main Road then I would recommend Blackheath Lodge.
Named for the street in which the lodge is found, this is one of my favorite bed and breakfasts in Cape Town. It is super friendly, extremely comfortable and serves fantastic breakfasts.
I often visit Cape Town on business and have been staying at Blackheath Lodge for many years. It has recently changed ownership and both the past and the new owners have a flair for interior design.
I have stayed in most of the rooms and they are spacious and beautifully decorated. No two rooms are the same and so it is worth visiting their website to choose the room that you want.
My favourite is the Delux Apartment with its sea view, spacious lounge/dining room/kitchen area that leads onto a balcony.
The lounge and pub are great place to meet other guests. In winter there is a fire to make the room cozy and in summer the doors open onto the pool area. The tea and coffee station between the reception and pub always has a variety of cookies, sweets and fruit.
Breakfast is great. There is a quality array of health and Continental options at the buffet and a variety of English style options to choose from.
After a busy day of exploring or business, the heated pool is refreshing and invigorating. Just what you need before heading out to dinner in one of the many great restaurants nearby..