In Travel

Home-Style Hotel Luxury On Cape Town’s Beautiful Waterfront

“Welcome home!”

It’s a greeting I’d hear a dozen times during my stay at Cape Town’s Cape Grace Hotel – one that, on first glance, belies the establishment’s upmarket aesthetic and prime position on the city’s famed Victoria and Albert Waterfront (V&A) precinct.

But yet it doesn’t feel forced or inauthentic. Everything at Cape Grace, a Leading Hotels of the World Property, is engineered to make guests feel less like visitors and more like members of the family, and it works.

The property

The phrase “home away from home” has become something of a cliché in travel writing, but it’s how Cape Grace feels. While Cape Town presents endless opportunities for exploration, busy days spent sightseeing and dining out are easily abandoned in favour of an in-room meal or cocktails by the pool.

Located on a private quay and with stunning views of the city’s iconic Table Mountain on one side and a serene marina and the V&A on the other, Cape Grace couldn’t be more in the thick of it. But yet it’s a sanctuary – a place where the city comes to you.

Cape Grace, Cape Town

Each floor of the hotel, characterised by unique colour palettes and décor, has been designed to tell part of the Cape Grace – and Cape Town – story. There are nods to the Mother City’s African heritage, colonial history, and spectacular natural environment around every corner, but the jewel in Cape Grace’s crown is the 300-piece-plus antiques collection; the largest on display in any hotel in South Africa.

The décor 

Every artefact on display at Cape Grace was made or used locally and, contrasted against the hotel’s gleaming, modern amenities, the pieces (which also appear in Cape Grace’s 120 rooms and suites) feel even more special.

The hotel’s ground floor – where reception and the Signal restaurant are located – is decorated with a mix of Cape Furniture, which encompasses everything made locally between 1700 and 1900. While the ornate European-style Patrician Furniture favoured by wealthy 18th and 19th century officials are immediately identifiable, such pieces are subtly contrasted with the Country and Folk styles, which were used by rural gentry and farmers respectively. Displaying all three classifications on the hotel’s ground floor is a unique expression of the class division that characterised Cape Town’s early colonial era.

Signal Restaurant at Cape Grace, Cape Town

The first floor is home to the remainder of Cape Grace’s Folk collection, which was made by commoners living in the Cape’s rural areas, largely from timber found nearby. The pieces are simple, prioritising necessity and practicality over style.

Inspired by the entrance rooms typical of 19th century country homesteads, the second floor houses the Country furniture collection – the hotel’s largest. Country furniture falls somewhere between Patrician and Folk styles, taking inspiration from the former and generally made by skilled craftsmen, it’s a kind of local spin on the European style of the time.

On Cape Grace’s third floor, the Patrician furniture collection provides a fascinating insight into the political upheaval that followed the arrival of English colonisers to Cape Town and the impact it had on style and taste. Japanese Imari porcelain was highly sought-after at the time and glitters under warm hall lights here.

The homes enjoyed by officials of the 18th Century Dutch East India Trading Company serves as inspiration for the hotel’s fourth and top floor, with gabled cabinets – traditionally used to display the owner’s valuable Oriental ceramics collection – the focus.

The activities

Though a large part of the Cape Grace story, the hotel’s antiques collection isn’t all it has to offer. Everyone from whisky-drinkers and avid readers to nature enthusiasts are bound to be entertained.

For the foodies, there’s local takes on classic dishes at Signal restaurant and a time-honoured South African afternoon tea every day in the library, while whisky fiends will be kept busy by the 400 varieties on offer at Bascule bar (which is conveniently located directly below the pool if the mood for multitasking strikes).If the plan is to do as little as possible, the on-site spa or a deck chair by the pool has got you covered.

Those seeking to go off the grid in style can have their choice of fresh flowers, a special selection of books, or – if travelling with youngsters – a PlayStation 4 installed in their room upon request.

The ethos

And that’s the thing about Cape Grace – whether you’re travelling as part of a group or couple or a family unit, the focus is on doing things together. The apartment-style rooms mean families can indulge in fully loaded movie nights or celebrate the holidays in a homey setting.

The only activity grown-ups aren’t invited to participate in is African storytime, which takes place in the hotel’s ground-floor library area and which is replaced by gingerbread decorating during the festive season. While both activities are surely enjoyable for folks of all ages, it’s the perfect opportunity for the grown-ups to start making their way through that whisky list.

Gingerbread painting at Cape Grace, Cape Town

The writer travelled as a guest of Cape Grace and Leading Hotels of the World.

(All images: Cape Grace / supplied)

Published 13 January, 2020