Cape Town has long enchanted with its winning combination of ravishing good looks, vibrant culinary scene and welcoming atmos. As South Africa embraces peak summer, Laura Miller, native Capetonian and Country Manager for luxury villa rental site Stay One Degree, provides a taster of this fabulously chic, have-it-all city.
Cape Town (CT) is dominated by Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, which cradle the commercial hub of the city overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. From the city bowl, Table Bay curls in a wide smile towards the west coast’s UNESCO-protected wild flower plains. In the opposite direction the coastline beckons with white-sand beaches including Clifton 4th, Camps Bay and Kommetjie.
As you continue around the peninsula you hit Chapman’s Peak coastal road, Cape Point Nature Reserve, False Bay with its historic seaside towns, leafy Constantia, the award-winning wine estates of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and beyond up the east coast’s fabled Garden Route to Plett. Did you say you had at least two weeks? Phew.
EAT & DRINK
Where to start? CT is worth visiting for its food and wine alone. Don’t miss lunch at Chef’s Warehouse Beau Constantia where Liam Tomlin makes food art in a sublime vineyard, glass box setting. Even the loos have views. Then there’s celebrity chef Luke Dale-Robert’s restaurants – Pot Luck Club and Test Kitchen at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock – fully booked months in advance for good reason.
Bree Street in town is peppered with stellar restaurants and bars where food and wine are superb – and superbly cheap when travelling on the foreign dollar. If you’re up for packed pavements and urban buzz, check out First Thursdays when art galleries open late and trendy Capetonians mingle, or Tuning the Vine on every second Wednesday when the wine estates come to the city for a wine-tasting, street-strolling gourmet soirée.
The city’s best calamari is to be had at Chapman’s Peak Hotel with sandy feet and rosé in hand, while Tintswalo Atlantic does wave-side, sunset, multi-course romance to a T. Then there’s Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and the wine estates themselves. La Petite Ferme is pure magic, Vergelegen a historic, picnic-perfect, family-friendly favourite, the list goes on… and on.
To be bruisingly blunt, your dollar goes far in South Africa. Wine is an obvious take-home with estates ready to ship your tipples of choice – don’t miss Mullineux Wines, created in the Swartland and winning gongs galore, or Ataraxia, DeToren, Meerlust, Tokara for that matter either…
CT is also the country’s design hub (shh, don’t tell Joburg). Skinnymalinx sells fynbos-inspired fabric and homeware, and Missibaba’s statement-making handcrafted leather bags pair beautifully with covetable Kirsten Goss jewellery. If it’s curios you’re after, all the classics are perusable in grungy Greenmarket Square.
Obviously you have to conquer the dominatrix herself – Table Mountain. Glide up in the cable car, but why not hike down? There are countless routes, but both Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge drop down into Kirstenbosch Gardens, CT’s unmissable botanical estate. Should you prefer not to sweat, head to the Gardens for one of their Sunday evening Summer Sunset Concerts with a picnic and bottle instead. With Devil’s Peak as a backdrop, you’ll realise paradise was never really lost. Shark cage diving in False Bay, swimming with the penguins at Boulders Beach, paragliding off Signal Hill and touring Robben Island are just a few other CT highlights.
Stay One Degree, the social network for luxury villa rentals, offers the chance to experience Cape Town like a discerning local. Member properties are situated in the heart of the city, dotted along the Atlantic Seaboard and tucked into the winelands and mountain ranges of the Western Cape and beyond. For more info, visit stayonedegree.com
Images courtesy of Stay One Degree and Michelle Lombard @michlomby