Finding lodging in Cape Town can be a nightmare during peak travel season (December-January), as many of the more reasonable accommodations are booked up. It's worth traveling between April and August, if you can, to take advantage of the "secret season" discounts that are sometimes half the high-season rate. If you arrive in Cape Town without a reservation, head for the Tourism Office, which has
a helpful accommodations desk.
Hotels in the city center are a good option if you're here on business or are here for only a short stay. During the day the historic city center is a vibrant place. At night, though, it's shut up tight (though this is changing slowly as more office buildings are converted into apartment complexes); night owls may prefer a hotel amid the nonstop action of Long Street or the Waterfront. Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts in the Southern Suburbs, especially Constantia, offer unrivaled beauty and tranquility and make an ideal base if you're exploring the peninsula. You'll need a car, though, and should plan on 25-45 minutes to get into town. Atlantic Coast hotels provide the closest thing in Cape Town to a beach-vacation atmosphere despite the cold ocean waters.
Keep in mind that international flights from the United States and Europe arrive in the morning and return flights depart in the evening. Because most hotels have an 11 am checkout, you may have to wait for a room if you've just arrived; if you're leaving, you will be hauled kicking and screaming out of your room hours before your flight. Most hotels will try to accommodate you, but they often have no choice in peak season. Some of the larger hotels have residents-only lounges where you can spend the hours awaiting your flight. Note that many small luxury accommodations either do not permit children or have minimum-age restrictions. It's a good idea to inquire in advance if this will be an issue. Cape Town has led the global trend of not smoking in public places. All hotels will have no-smoking rooms, and some have no-smoking floors or are entirely smoke-free.