Cape Town Hotels

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Mount Nelson Hotel

At a Glance

    Pros

  • aesthetically, this is the real colonial deal
  • guests include movie stars and diplomats
  • excellent restaurant

    Cons

  • breakfast and lunch restaurant overlooks guests at the pool

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  

Mount Nelson Hotel Review

This distinctive pink landmark is the grande dame of Cape Town. Since it opened its doors in 1899 to accommodate passengers just off the Union-Castle steamships, it has been the focal point of Cape social life. It retains a traditional charm and gentility that other luxury hotels often lack: a lavish afternoon tea is served in the lounge to piano accompaniment, the Planet Bar is very glam, and the staff almost outnumber the guests. Rooms are decorated with fine antiques and fresh flowers and have an air of aristocracy about them. The hotel stands at the top of Government Avenue, but, surrounded as it is by 9 acres of manicured gardens, it might as well be in the country. Once a week the head gardener leads a guided tour through the magnificent gardens, and tea is served afterward. Very civilized! For peak season, December–March, it's advisable to book a year in advance.

    Hotel Details

  • 124 rooms, 85 suites
  • Rate includes breakfast.
  • Credit cards accepted.
Updated: 10-02-2012

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  
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    Mount Nelson Hotel Review

    Having visited some of the worlds' top hotels, I can wholeheartedly recommend this hotel as one of the best in the world. From the moment you drive up the palm tree lined entrance, you feel the luxury and elegance. Although it is a City center hotel, it is like an oasis. The rooms are elegant, the suites are superb, and the various restaurants are of the very highest standard. Service is 5 star and despite the prices you will enjoy your stay.

    by dannu0708, 1/24/12
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    “Poor Service & Location Really Hurt this Pink Lady”

    With Table Mountain as a backdrop, this historic hotel has so much potential, but it fails to meet expectations. Built on land formerly used for slave and horse auctions the Mount Nelson was the first hotel to offer hot and cold running water in South Africa… today service lacks. As one example when it came to cleaning our room (or more literally not cleaning our room) the hotel was very quick to make excuses, placing blame on the guest first, and taking responsibility last. The hotel is renowned for two things - there afternoon tea and there gardens. The gardens, in my opinion are neither extravagant nor are they bad, but instead somewhere in the middle. I noticed weeds coming up between many of the paving stones. The afternoon tea is the hotels only saving grace. With 32 teas including their own blend, and hosts to assist with recommendations and steeping, all you have to do is sit back, enjoy the cucumber sandwiches and scones (the have an amazing spread of sandwiches, pies, cakes, and other sweet and savory treats laid out) as a pianist tickles the ivories. Once you have experienced the afternoon tea, it's easy to see why it's so popular – from multi generational families to middle aged women, to young professional Capetonians dressed in their finest. The pros of this hotel include the gardens, an excellent afternoon tea and breakfast and a decently sized gym and pool. The cons however outweigh the pros. Specifically service was poor, there is only one small elevator and views are limited in a town where almost every hotel has jaw dropping vistas. Honestly, while staying here, with my view of the pool and surrounding office buildings / shops it didn’t feel very Cape Town’ish. Too bad Table Mountain is behind the hotel! Also I was not impressed with the Prius vehicles used for free transfers (other comparable hotels in Cape Town offer transfers in BMW’s, Jags and Mercedes’). Interesting as well that free transfers are offered to Camp’s Bay and Table Mountain but not to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Perhaps they are concerned guests will see the waterfront and want to stay at one of the nice hotels there! My personal recommendation is visit it for afternoon tea, but don’t stay overnight.

    by Safari_Tim, 5/3/13
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    Charming Pink Grande Dame

    Spent a week at the Mt. Nelson in a junior suite last month (10/13). Suffice to say that if and when I am fortunate enough to return to this spectacular city, I will be returning to this historic property. While there may have been miniscule service issues (one day our room was not cleaned until afternoon; when I called to inquire, the housekeeper materialized in minutes), these are far outweighed by the positives. Beautiful flowering gardens, ever-helpful service. Free private transportation in hotel Prius to the Waterfront, Table Mountain, and Camp's Bay. The hotel is just a few steps from the shops of Kloof Street, very easy (and very safe, by the way) to walk. In fact, walkers can easily cover the distance to Company Gardens, to Long Street, Greenmarket Square, etc. Concierges were ever helpful with all inquiries. I had booked my restaurants ahead of time (oh, the delights of food and wine in Cape Town!), but they offered to confirm all bookings before I even asked. Breakfast buffet is expansive and the outdoor terrace facing one of the hotel's two pools (one of several outdoor areas where food and drinks can be savored) is more than pleasant. Finally, for serious swimmers there are two heated outdoor pools large enough for laps and not crowded in October.

    by ekscrunchy, 11/4/13

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