There can be few other cities in the world with quite the same vibrant mix as Cape Town. It has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you can’t quite put your finger on. It is beautiful, edgy, colorful, trendy, gritty and stylish all at the same time. It is also a city in transformation and the place where Nelson Mandela made his first address as a free man. It comes as no surprise then that the New York Times recently rated it as the no 1 place to visit in 2014, out of a possible 52 destinations.
Blessed with a scenic beauty that must surely have been the hands of a creative and inspired god, the Cape boasts truly magnificent scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the famous cloud table cloth draped over Table Mountain, and a steady Atlantic breeze sees to it that the sky is often an electric cobalt blue. From the sky, it has the explorer salivating: away in the distance is the sweeping arch of False Bay and the rugged mountains of Hottentots Holland. Down below, numerous pristine beaches dot the coastline.
With a city as beautiful as this, the locals have seen to it that Cape Town puts on a trendy face for its influx of tourists. In recent years, the staid old City Bowl has been gentrified to match the pedigree of the Victoria and Albert Waterfront which came to life in the late Nineties. Stroll down Long Street and you immediately get a sense of ‘African chic’, a blending of ethnic art and contemporary coffee lounges, trendy bars and restaurants plus the occasional quirky boutique. It passes within a block of Green Market Square which is a riot of color for the souvenir shopper.
But more than that, lately Cape Town has been setting its own style that’s in step with any of the ϋber-fashionable cities of the world. It is thus not surprising that the city has been awarded the prestigious title of World Design Capital for 2014. Cape Town will be celebrating design in all its different forms (including architecture, fashion, showcasing artist’s studios etc.) with themes such as African innovation, bridging the divide, and beautiful spaces.
Bars and bistros that wouldn’t be out of place in Greenwich Village or Covent Garden have sprung up everywhere. I Love My Laundry describes itself as a ‘hybrid business’ and is a dim sum bar that is also a wine and art shop; Haas Design Collectivestarted out as a gallery, and Los Muertos Motorcycles is a biker shop that does coffee and film production, amongst other things.
In the wake of the 2010 World Cup overhaul, Cape Town now boasts some outstanding accommodation options. Visitors can take their pick from staying in the privacy of a century old guesthouse mansion to one of the world class hotels that is perfect for the discerned traveler.
Southern Destinations has two firm favorites when it comes to accommodation options in the city bowl. The Cape Cadogan is a boutique hotel that combines historic charm with contemporary style and African vibrancy and is situated in the precinct of Cape Town’s trendy Kloof Street. It’s a luxurious double-storey Georgian mansion just a stone’s throw away from the city’s trendy coffee shops, restaurants and bars.
Another excellent choice is More Quarters, situated in the stylish central city area of Gardens. It combines the independence and privacy of apartment-living with the hospitality and services of a luxury hotel, and is ideally suited to those seeking a longer stay option, or for those wishing to experience the city as a local. From here, you can stroll down to Kloof Street with its hip cafes and cool boutiques; take a complimentary shuttle bus service to the vibrant V&A Waterfront or a short taxi ride to Table Mountain or one of the many beaches.
Whether it’s a tour to Robben Island to explore South Africa’s past, a trip up Table Mountain with the cable car, relaxing at Café Caprice in Camps Bay, taking a sundowner cruise around Clifton’s famous beaches, or visiting the Design Indaba in Cape Town to find inspired design pieces, this city is definitely one of the destinations not to be missed in 2014.