In January 2016 I went to Cape Town for a work trip. During this work trip, we stayed at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.
Within walking distance from the back entrance/exit to the hotel, there is a variety of restaurants within walking distance. There is also a shopping centre within a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The My City bus services have a stop a few hundred metres from the hotel and can take you almost anywhere in Cape Town.
Arriving at the Mount Nelson Hotel
When you arrive at the hotel, you immediately see this long driveway to a building that has a colour that somewhere between peach and pink. It is a unique colour and which stand out among the other hotels and the green scenery in Cape Town.
The hotel reminded me of an old English house – very elegant and stately. Quite formal.
As soon as we stopped in front of the hotel, the porter immediately took my luggage and tagged it. The receptionist immediately assisted me. Even though I was slightly early as check-in time was still 2 hours away, I was able to go to my room.
After checking in, the porter appeared out of nowhere and escorted me to my bedroom on the third floor. The building does not have many lifts, and they are old-fashioned but seem to be working perfectly fine. They were surprisingly fast (don’t judge a book by its cover, I suppose). Throughout my stay, I found the elevators fast. There are only two in the entire hotel, but it never seemed to require a long wait and the stairs were comfortable to climb.
My room at the Mount Nelson Hotel
I must admit I was a bit surprised by my bedroom, which was old-fashioned. After talking to some colleagues, we discovered that some rooms had been renovated, but some still had to be done. I was in the section of the hotel that still needed to be renovated.
My room was a comfortable size. It featured a double bed with an old canopy-styled bed. The curtains on the canopy and at the windows were floral and old-fashioned. The bed was extremely comfortable, and extra blankets were provided. There was also a desk, a small sitting area with a bar fridge and TV as well as an enormous closet with loads of packing space.
The bathroom was small but functional with the shower in the bath. There was plenty of towels and toiletries in the bathroom.
My experience in the room
I stayed there for five nights and found the experience quite enjoyable. The television featured a limited selection of satellite channels, but a DVD player was also provided, and DVDs be rented from reception. The minibar offered a selection of beers and soft drinks. Water was also provided but was not free as they have been in other hotels I have stayed in. Snacks are available upon request. Needless to say, the prices of the minibar items were high such as $3 for a small soda of 200ml.
The only complaint I had about the bedroom was the fact that the air conditioner seemed to have only two settings, namely, on and off. When it was on, it was cold and when it was off the room seemed a bit stuffy.
From my room, I had a lovely view of Table Mountain and Lion’s head, and it became my habit that the first thing I would do each morning is to see what the mood of the mountains was for the day.
Two types of breakfast are available and can be included in your room rate upon your request. You can either have breakfast in the Oasis Bistro, located near the main pool, or in your bedroom by filling out the breakfast form before 2:00 in the morning. I had breakfast in the Oasis Bistro the first morning, but being presentable so early was just not for me. After that, I decided to have breakfast in my bedroom each morning while watching television – a much better way to start the day! Having breakfast served in your room does not cost anything except the tip for the waitress. I found it quite refreshing that my breakfast was delivered at exactly the time I requested each morning, which is excellent service in my opinion!
We had lunch at the Oasis Bistro a few times, and it was a buffet style lunch with a different theme daily. Everything was served, from pasta to salads, curries and seafood. The variety was great, and everyone was catered for, vegetarians included.
We had work functions on most evenings, but there was one night when I didn’t feel like going out and wanted to have supper inside. My room did not have a room service menu, and I had to phone housekeeping to get one. It was delivered in less than 5 minutes. Room service was also quite pricey with a soup and bread amounting to $7. I decided on having chicken curry, but the curry was not spiced nicely and lacked flavour. The curry came with sambals (a Cape Malay side dish consisting of chopped tomato and onion, sometimes chilli), roti (flatbread) and rice. For the price I paid ($12), I was utterly disappointed.
Every evening a turn-down service was offered with someone making sure my bed, gown and slippers were ready for bed-time. A complimentary bottle of water was given during the turn-down service.
The hotel grounds
Walking through the gardens of the hotel was also an exciting experience. There were many statues and works of art scattered throughout the gardens, turning a walk into an art experience.
The gardens were beautiful with many colourful flowers and lush flowerbeds. There was a nice fountain in the back garden near the reception area. The garden staff were friendly and always greeted us as we walked past them.
Every afternoon the Mount Nelson hotel offers high tea. Although this was very pricey, it seemed attractive as many people showed up for high tea. I never had the opportunity to do the high tea experience, but I saw the cakes and tarts prepared and let me assure you, the variety is incredible and there is something for every taste.
There are two pools on the hotel grounds. The one located near the Ocean Bistro is the common swimming pool, called the Oasis pool, to be used by everyone. According to Mount Nelson Hotel’s website, this is one of the largest heated pools in South Africa. We heard that each room in the hotel had an allocated deck chair – I am not sure if this is true, though. The other pool is meant for people over the age of 16 and had a more private setting next to the garden cottage suites.
Other facilities and services
The hotel also had two tennis courts and a very modern gym, complete with a private trainer for those who need one. Nannies to look after children were available, on request.
The hotel also offers a parking garage for visitors and those who have rental cars. Taxi services are available, and there is usually one or two on standby. The hotel also offers a shuttle to the V&A Waterfront which is complimentary. There are specific departure and return times for the use of the shuttle. There is also a travel service located inside the hotel for booking of excursions and tours.
My opinion about the hotel
Overall I thought this was an excellent hotel. To stay there and to make use of most of their services cost a few pounds; not pennies. It most definitely caters more for foreign tourists and not South Africans due to the high prices. What was lovely about this hotel was the fact that nothing seemed impossible – as long as you were prepared to pay. The staff was very friendly and helpful and went out of their way to assist us with anything we needed. I am glad I had the opportunity to stay at this classic hotel.