Cape Town and the ScheckTrek Pick: Belmond Mount Nelson
Named by the New York Times and Britain’s Daily Telegraph in 2014 as the best place in the world to visit, you definitely want to see Cape Town on your visit to South Africa. This waterfront city is vibrant, lively and lovely.
The backdrop to the city is the ever-present Table Mountain, which in 2012 was named one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the mountain, about 2/3 of a mile high. At the summit are hiking trails, a gift shop, café and restrooms, as well as a plaque that informed us that we were 9,973 miles from home.
Have you ever wondered how water is supplied at 3,563 feet for the café and restrooms? Neither had we. But we learned that it’s taken up in the cable cars. Water tanks are located beneath the floor of each cable car. Once at the top, the water is pumped into a central tank, from which it is dispersed as needed. After hours, all waste water is transported to the lower station via a special tank that is attached to the cable car. It is then pumped into the sewage system. An added benefit of this arrangement is that when it’s windy, the water helps to stabilize the cable cars.
We should mention that the “ever present” Table Mountain is not “ever visible.” It is often covered by clouds, the so-called “tablecloth,” at the top. It added to our experience to see those clouds come in while we were up there, giving a mysterious ambiance to the rugged mountaintop, juxtaposed against the stunning beauty of the coastline.
Because weather conditions can frequently force the closure of Table Mountain, it’s good to schedule a visit there on your first day in Cape Town, so that there is the opportunity to reschedule if necessary.
Another side of Cape Town is its energetic waterfront, full of cafés, shops and amusements.
Sometimes you’re lucky, as we were, to catch talented and colorful street performers.
The area is popular with boaters. We watched the drawbridge raise for this catamaran.
The ScheckTrek Pick for a Cape Town hotel is the Belmond Mount Nelson.
The Mount Nelson is indisputably the Grand Dame of Cape Town. Presiding over nine acres of beautifully manicured grounds, “Nellie,” as she’s known to the locals, is like a perfect little pink village. After a long flight from Los Angeles, we didn’t think there could have been a more restorative setting for our introduction to South Africa.
View of Table Mountain from a Deluxe Junior Suite in the Main Building
A row of similar, but not identical, pink Victorian cottages—which face the secluded, adults-only pool—provides an idyllic hideaway for honeymooners or couples. For the rest of us, it provided an added dose of charm.
The Mount Nelson generously upgraded us to a One-Bedroom Suite in the Helmsley Wing. (The Helmsley, incidentally, was originally the venue for the first Jewish congregation in South Africa and site of the first Jewish service in Cape Town, held on Yom Kippur, 1841.)
In addition to a front porch, we enjoyed having this back patio. Notice that it isn’t pink. Because of the historical significance of the Helmsley (acquired in 1996), the Mount Nelson was required to maintain its original paint color.
One of ‘must-do’ things in Cape Town is to take afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson, which is available either on the terrace or in the salon.
It is a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
In our jetlagged state, afternoon tea was the perfect substitute for dinner on our first night. Then it was off to bed!
This thought-provoking and impactful piece of art greeted us the next morning in the breakfast room.
On our second night we ate at the hotel’s Planet Restaurant, where a delicious meal was accompanied by live piano.
The stars and planet theme was carried throughout.
The Mount Nelson is iconic and beautiful, with unfailingly gracious service. It is with pleasure that we name it the ScheckTrek Pick for Cape Town, South Africa.
For those who prefer a waterfront location and/or a more contemporary/glam décor with accents of trendy colors, The Silo opened in March 2017, five months too late for us to see it. However, having stayed at a sister property, La Residence (see blog here), we expect very good things from it!
Next time we’ll cover some of the destinations you can experience on a day’s sightseeing excursion from Cape Town, including one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen, as well as penguins on the beach!
If you would like to experience the Belmond Mount Nelson for yourself, ScheckTrek Travel can provide the following complimentary amenities for 2017 (and likely beyond):
Guaranteed Upgrade at time of booking
Buffet breakfast daily in restaurant for up to two in-room guests (For room service breakfast, tray charge is R100, about US $8 at time of writing.)
Early check in or guaranteed pm late check out confirmed at time of booking, subject to availability
Private afternoon tea OR evening tea for two served once during stay
Free use of business center
Complimentary internet access for duration of stay
Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability