Set the scene

Discover this Wes-Anderson-style pink palace down a palm-lined drive complemented with fountains looped in pink petunias. Just off the city’s cool Kloof Street, and with clear views of Table Mountain, you really wouldn’t expect to find this much space – nine whole acres – or this little noise. Strawberries-and-cream-striped towels lining the spectacular swimming pool and you’ll find locals on the terrace sipping Champagne or home-steeped iced tea with garden views and just the sound of tennis balls plopping over the net.

The backstory

Though the British admiral was never a guest, the house was named in his honour following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1806. The estate was later bought by shipping magnate Sir Donald Curry – his plan to build a dream hotel for first class passengers on his Union-Castle shipping line. It opened to wild fanfare, in 1899, as the first hotel in the city to provide hot and cold running water. But it was only at the end of the First World War that the hotel was painted pink – a symbol of peace, and now a colour with its own Pantone shade. In 1925, 80 date palms from the Canary Isles were planted to line the drive, in honour of a visit from the Prince of Wales; these days there are still a regular stream of famous hotel guests and you might just spot Leonardo DiCaprio or Charlize Theron at breakfast.

The rooms

There’s a nod to the hotel’s British background throughout. Behind the main hotel building find the sweet garden cottages – each with their own rose garden and picket fence – and direct access to a quieter, adults-only pool. Inside there are Venetian mirrors, toile wallpaper and an eclectic assortment of artwork, from maritime memorabilia that include oil paintings and model ships to striking contemporary works.

Food and drink

The hotel’s main terrace has to be one of the best spots for a sundowner in the city. It also serves simple salads but for lunch we recommend taking a picnic hamper (bursting with biltong, cheese and chutneys as well as perfect little cubes of layered carrot cake) into the gardens. Breakfast is served by the pool: an almost-extinct buffet spread of fruit, seeds, nuts and yoghurts as well as mini pastries with an egg chef on hand. The Nellie is the only place in the city worth booking for afternoon tea and the lounge is always full of families celebrating with custard-filled melkterts and Cape Malay Koeksisters, a sort of spiced doughnut-like dumpling. A new restaurant is planned for October 2022.

The neighbourhood

Head out of the back entrance straight onto Kloof Street and you’ll find lots of the best restaurants in Cape Town including Blondie, which dishes up fire-roasted aubergines smashed onto flatbread and dolloped with tahini. The atmosphere is fun and it’s busy on a Saturday night for drinks, too. Two minutes walk is Thali, owned by the much-loved Chef Warehouse group (find their excellent pintxos-inspired bar on Bree Street) – an Indian restaurant serving up a set sharing menu of sweetcorn fritters, perfect paratha and seafood curry. The hotel also offers shuttles down to the V&A Waterfront (head to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and then head up for a rooftop drink at the Silo Hotel afterwards) and nowhere in the city is far.

The service

All singing, all dancing. Sometimes literally, in the Planet Bar.

Eco effort

Organic vegetables are supplied by a local township farm and all excess food is donated to vulnerable children and families. The worm farm makes a meal of any food waste, helping to fertilise the lush gardens. And the hotel also supports mentorship programmes to help young people gain experience in the hospitality industry.

Accessibility for those with mobility impairment

There are four rooms designed specifically for those with mobility impairment.

Anything else to mention

The Librisa spa is also a favourite amongst Capetonians, in part thanks to the kids club which is free for anyone having a treatment. Complimentary childcare is also available for hotel guests and anyone booking in at the restaurants for children from four to 12.