There are splendid stays to be had in Cape Town. Luxe hotel penthouses and presidential suites abound in South Africa’s most beautiful city. In fact, those situated in downtown Cape Town have the added bonus of the vibrant art, cultural and restaurant scene. In addition, they boast magnificent sea and mountain views. Here are our picks of the crop. Bring on the PRESTIGE and glamour!
With its inherent natural beauty, Cape Town is a favoured travel destination. The city has often been the recipient of significant global “best destination” awards. The Mother City has an abundance of assets that are breathtakingly beautiful. It is situated between majestic Table Mountain – obviously a star in its own right – and the brilliant blue expanse of Table Bay and the Atlantic Seaboard. The inner city boasts exceptional accommodation options including glamorous, luxury top-floor presidential suites and palatial penthouses which are often a home-away-from-home for discerning travellers.
“The Cape Town CBD, which is home to more than 60 top hotels, is perfectly situated to provide visitors with top-class accommodation, destination restaurants and a vibrant downtown vibe. It is also a cultural and historical treasure trove. Its location also provides some of the best views in the world, thanks to its proximity to the city’s spectacular natural attractions.”explains Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID).
Ranging from private libraries to personal butlers, private lifts and expansive floor space, these inner-city havens have a lot to offer.
Labotessa – Cape Town
For one thing, think small, exclusive, elegant, with a good dose of history and you’ve got Labotessa. This is one of downtown Cape Town’s most unique boutique hotels. Labotessa was specifically created by experienced hotelier Johan du Plessis and his business partner within a beautiful 1700s Heritage building. Giving guests the perfect experience is at the heart of this intimate establishment. The 300 m² Presidential Suite offers incomparable views of Church Square, Signal Hill and Table Mountain. All rooms exude simple sophistication while honouring the history of the building. The suite includes three en-suite bedrooms. In fact, the entertainment areas stretch over two floors, with a complimentary wine bar, and a private splash pool.
Church Square stands as a historical landmark surrounded by important architecture. It was once a slave market connected to the Slave Lodge. One of the city’s oldest buildings erected in 1679, the square houses 11 granite blocks engraved with the names of those enslaved. Labotessa pays homage to this history while bringing new energy to the area. All the suites are treated with the same rigorous attention to detail and creative flair – not just the Presidential Suite. The entire hotel is designed to stand as an artwork in and of itself; it’s a place where 17th-century charm seamlessly melds with modern sophistication.
- The Presidential Suite starts at R54 000 a night.
Taj Cape Town
Taj Cape Town tells the tale of the Cape’s long association with India, born in the European age of discovery when the spice trade flourished, pepper was worth more than gold, and Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama first rounded the Cape. The hotel, housed in the old Reserve Bank Building was designed by James Morris. He was apparently almost driven mad by marble, missing genitalia on sculpted lions, and measuring the exact angle of the sun for the barrel-vaulted skylight that graces the hotel’s Greek-cross shaped lobby. The same Lion Heraldry graces the Taj’s door, the original chandeliers twinkle, and the same clock from 1932 keeps time. But spice and cardamom scent the air, and touches of the East are everywhere.
The marble-floored Presidential Suite sits on the 16th and 17th floors, with uninterrupted Table Mountain and city views, a fire pit, entertainment area, two bedrooms, a lounge, study, exercise room, as well as a bathroom with a walk-in shower and floor-to-ceiling vistas of Table Mountain.
- The Presidential Suite costs about R75 000 per night.
Picked by superstars like Charlize and Sean, Pepperclub’s Presidential Suite is frequently home to Hollywood’s elite. Situated on the 18th floor of this inner-city hotel on iconic Long Street, the suite has an extremely roomy balcony and private pool, 360-degree views of the city, a grand piano, three en-suite bedrooms, a marble-top kitchen, as well as a sensational sundeck. The split-level duplex defined by dark wood and oriental finishes and offers exceptional vistas of “the Table” and Lion’s Head. Klaus Neumann was the architect, with interior design done by Soda Design and others. Obviously, at this establishment, no request is too big or too small. After all, the motto is “the answer is yes. Now, what is the question?”
- The Presidential Suite starts at R18 999.00 per night.
The Westin Cape Town
On the very edge of the city centre, overlooking Table Bay and the famous Atlantic Seaboard, as well as the inner city and Table Mountain, the glass-fronted Westin is a downtown Cape Town landmark. From its luxurious rooms to the spectacular spa facilities (which also include a rooftop infinity lap pool and rooftop sauna), the modern hotel has a lot to offer.
Entering the 18th-floor Presidential Suite, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, is simply breath-taking, with Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, the Cityscape, Table Mountain and Table Bay Harbour in your sights. The spacious suite is a welcome retreat and has an airy entrance lobby that opens up into a large living room with an open fireplace, eight-seat dining table, a butler’s kitchen as well as a guest bathroom. The bedroom has a dressing room, and walk-in wardrobe and the en-suite bathroom has a private sauna. There is also a Westin Sleep Well Menu for in-room dining to promote rest and recovery after a long flight. Chances are you’ll have no trouble having sweet dreams here.
- The Presidential Suite start at R28 000 per night.
Finally, the Rockefeller. An ambitious pandemic undertaking, the Rockefeller opened in December 2021. The 19-storey apart-hotel, which has a marble staircase that reportedly cost about R1-million, has four penthouses. The most luxurious of the quartet stretches across the top floor, beautifully combining large timber and natural stone, with sculptural furniture set against striking city views.
Lead Interior Designer, Henro Goosen says, “Cape Town captures many worlds in close proximity. The Rockefeller penthouses are situated in a glamorous location in the city, with the working harbour to one side, and dramatic natural mountain views to the other. You are only seconds from city life but still feel surrounded by nature.” The main Rockefeller penthouse obviously exudes luxury, convenience, and quality. Of course, guests can expect private chefs, butlers, concierges, as well as easy access to the super-chic sky bar.
The Penthouse’s Humble History
The 1920s brought an economic boom, a Lost Generation of Bright Young Things, wild jazz, dazzling Art Deco, flappers, fancy dress, moving pictures and modernity. New Yorkers clamoured for city living, and apartments, in particular, became de rigueur. The tops of buildings – usually clapboard constructions – were the domain of servants, often built illegally. That was, of course, until the city’s elite recognised that they offered unparalleled views. Servants ousted and New Yorkers started illegally subletting the rooms on the roof.
In the year 1925, penthouses became legalised, and the Plaza Hotel built the first-ever recognised penthouse overlooking Central Park. This mushroomed into penthouses in most major US cities, primarily due to the extra outdoor space they provide. Developers began selling penthouses at premium prices and demand grew as high society competed for homes in the sky. Today, they remain the superior suites at renowned hotels worldwide, including Cape Town.
Back in the day, Cape Town’s hotels historically linked “beer and beds”, with the best hotels synonymous with comfy beds and beer on tap. The Mother City’s CBD hotels have received international acclaim for their arresting views, world-class service, and quixotic design in recent years. Of course, those with penthouses hold special sway with the rich and the famous.
Images supplied by featured hotels