Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a terrific holiday in South Africa. You can read my trip reports here:
Today (March 29, 2017): Review of the 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, Cape Town (South Africa).
Enjoying the most magnificent location on the Cape Peninsula, the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is a grand contemporary hotel in Camps Bay, just a short drive from the center of Cape Town. Nestled between the unspoiled natural beauty of the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range in the Table Mountain National Park, and the Atlantic Ocean, the award-winning boutique hotel is part of the family-run Red Carnation Hotel Collection and member of the prestigious portfolio of Leading Hotels of the World. It offers 70 guest rooms, styled with light colors and dark-wood accents that give an eclectic touch through African and nautical twists. Other unique features include a holistic spa, private cinema, and breathtaking ocean views to be enjoyed from the restaurant and bar.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa features in my top 10 list of luxury hotels with private helipads, the best luxury hotels in South Africa and the best luxury hotels in Cape Town.
In this review (more info & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The hotel’s breathtaking location is its strongest selling point. It stands along the scenic coastal Victoria Road that connects the fashionable Cape Town suburbs of Camps Bay and Landudno, and which continues towards the world-famous Chapman’s Peak drive, one of the world’s most spectacular roads. Behind the hotel, a line of imposing mountains – the so-called Twelve Apostles – reaches towards the heavens, while in front of the hotel, the sun sets on breeching whales (in season), playful dolphins, and crashing rollers of the Atlantic Ocean Marine Park. It’s the only hotel located within the Table Mountain National Park, famed for its rare fynbos vegetation and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Its isolated setting away from the city bowl and the immensity of intense tourism activity that the Mother City contains, is a major advantage for those that want to get away from it all and are looking for a property nestled in the embrace of mother nature herself. Yet, the hotel is not too far away from the action, as it is only a short 5-minute drive to the lively sea promenade of Camps Bay and a 20 minute drive to Cape Town’s city center.
- Absolutely nothing prepares you for the sheer magnificence of various sights, smells and sounds as you drive on the coastal route towards the hotel. With so much extraordinary land- and seascape to feast your eyes on, you have to take care not to drive right past the entrance to the hotel, which is via a rather unassuming indoor driveway. Upon arrival at the lobby, every guest is greeted by the superfriendly doormen. The lobby itself – just like the hotel’s other communal areas- features an opulent decor and classic decor. Dutch antiques, mirrors, wooden columns, works of art, and Chinese vases create a homely, boutique-like feel.
- The hotel is considered an iconic landmark in Cape Town. The property used to be a hunting lodge and private farm, before it was turned – amidst great controversy – into a R40 million luxury hotel and conference centre in 1992. Part of the original landhouse – with its two prominent Cape Dutch frontal gables – has been preserved and incorporated in the main wing. The distinctive sea-front building with its blinding white facade is even used by sailors around the Cape Peninsula as a nautical navigation point.
- The hotel offers 55 spaciously appointed guest rooms and 15 luxurious suites, each individually decorated with an eclectic mix of contemporary African style with classic European comfort. All rooms and suites reflect a fresh, calming environment combining sophistication with simplicity, comfort and elegance. During my holiday, I stayed in (and was upgraded to) a lovely Seafront Facing Suite, which offered superb views over the Atlantic Ocean. It featured a large bedroom area with king sized bed, en-suite bathroom with designer bath and shower, a separate and cozy lounge are, and – most importantly – a private balcony with the most magnificent view of the sea and sunsets.
- The hotel’s indigenous garden blends into the mountainside, and guests are able to stroll straight from their rooms onto the mountainside to take in some fresh air and spectacular sea and mountain views or explore the various mountain trails – from 10 minutes to 45 minutes in duration – within the Table Mountain National Park, part of the UNESCO World Heritage site. Some of the planet’s most mesmerizing views are to be enjoyed from a spot right above the hotel, with uninterrupted panoramas towards Camps Bay, Lion Head, Table Mountain and the deep-blue Atlantic Ocean. Here, the hotel has constructed some specially laid out picnic sites ,where you can toast to romance while the sun sets into the Atlantic Ocean or simply let the kids run wild in the open space.
- The hotel features two small pools in the gardens surrounding the buildings: a rock pool with mountain views is located on a terrace behind the hotel, while a heated infinity pool is set on a seafront courtyard, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A fully serviced tanning deck and 10 hammocks in the fynbos gardens are also ideal for lazy days soaking up the sun.
- Offering seasonal, fresh cuisine, the Twelve Apostles Hotel is recognised as one of South Africa’s top places for wining and dining. The Azure Restaurant, with a terrace that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and enjoys incredible sunset views, is the ideal location to indulge in a succulent meat or fresh seafood dish. The modern French menu with South African influences is updated regularly by executive chef Christo Pretorius. The Café Grill offers a more casual and relaxed dining experience with a 24 hour accessible menu.
- The generous breakfast buffet, coupled with fresh Oysters and a selection of hot and cold dishes, not forgetting plenty of bubbly, can be enjoyed inside the Azure restaurant or, weather permitting, on the spectacular terrace.
- The Leopard Bar is the most scenic spot in Cape Town for sundowners and cocktails. Breathtaking views of the Atlantic, coupled with live music and the longest hours of sunshine of any hotel in the city make the bar a popular hot spot with hotel guests and local residents alike. In winter, fire places and blankets keep guests cosy while sipping on a glass of wine. Binoculars are available to spot dolphin and whales, which are regular sightings in winter and announced by the hotel’s brass bell.
- The Twelve Apostles Hotel features an impressive art collection, including some of South Africa’s most well-known painters (Tinus De Jongh, Gabriel De Jongh, Walter Battiss, JH Pierneef, Tretchikoff, Robert Gwelo Goodman, Sydney Carter, WH Coetzee, Francois Krige, Hugo Naude, Maggie Loubser, Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba and many more). In addition, vibrant wall murals grace the pool decks, fountains and spa to add a three-dimensional element to the treasured art collection inside the hotel.
- High-speed WiFi is complimentary throughout the hotel. In addition, a business center offers two computers and a printer.
- On the occasional rainy days, you can watch a movie in the hotel’s private 16-seater cinema. The hotel will even rustle up a bowl of popcorn or other treats for you to add to your viewing pleasure. Each month a new schedule of movies is set, running five times a day and may be accompanied with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- The hotel has a private helipad that can make the flight to Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront in just 8 minutes. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the hourly, complimentary shuttle service to Camps Bay (and its gorgeous beach) and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (with plenty of shops) between 8 am and 9.30 pm.
- The hotel offers several extra thoughtful touches, such as complimentary mineral water, tea and coffee-making facilities, in-room DVD players with an extensive DVD library, a duvet and pillow menu, indigenous turn-down gifting and informal wine tastings in Azure Restaurant.
- The staff is super-friendly and efficient, reflecting the legendary South African hospitality.
- The award-winning spa, with seven treatment rooms, features an ethereal, all-white crystal grotto interior. A team of qualified therapists oversees wellbeing and rejuvenation during your stay, with spa treatments inspired by holistic principles, combining ancient wisdom and modern expertise. There is also a gym on site, but for a more serious workout the hotel provides passes to a nearby health club.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Twelve Apostles Hotel is one of Cape Town’s best hotels, with its main assets being the spectacular location, warm hospitality, and world-class restaurant. It is not perfect though and you need to know the following when considering a stay here:
- A road is running between the hotel and Atlantic Ocean. The hotel makes no secret of this, and it is clearly mentioned on its website. Nevertheless, it’s quite a busy road with constant traffic during the day that can be heard inside the hotel (including the ocean-facing rooms). It did not bother me, but the traffic noise may prohibit a true back-to-nature experience for some guests. If you are a light sleeper, be sure to book a room on the mountain facing side of the hotel.
- Although the hotel is located ocean-front, there is no way to come any closer to the Atlantic Ocean’s shore (a guard rail at the other side of the road is as close as you can get) and there is no beach to speak of within walking distance. Of course, if you want to chill on a superb beach, you can always take the complimentary shuttle to Camps Bay’s spectacular crescent of white sand.
- The hotel’s opulent boutique style may not suit everyone’s taste, especially if you prefer an airy, minimalist decor. The reception is rather dark featuring lots of antiques and the overall style may feel bombastic and kitsch to some. However, whether you like them or not, the flamboyant decors are genuinely South African, and also feel that way.
- The lowest room categories (‘classic rooms’) do not come with any view. Some look onto the walls of the inner courtyards. So make sure to do your home work and book the right room type if an amazing view is what you want.
- Although the location of the hotel is spectacular beyond words, one should not forget that the construction of this blinding white building in the midst of a nature reserve was highly controversial at the time (1990s).
- The two swimming pools are quite small, and I can imagine that they cannot accommodate a majority of the guests when the hotel is fully occupied. However, there’s no need to spend much time around the pool with so much astonishingly beautiful nature around you that is waiting to be explored.
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 7/10
- Pool: 7/10
- Resort grounds: 9/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Twelve Apostles (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso. This includes an upgrade, free breakfast (including freshly-harvested oysters and sparkling wine), tea by the sea for two people, early check-in and late check-out. For stays of 4 or more nights guests also receive a scheduled helicopter transfer for two to the V&A Waterfront.
- If a spectacular Atlantic Ocean vistas are what you are craving for, then book (or request) an ocean view room. Keep in mind though that a road is running in front of these rooms, which can cause some occasional noise disturbance.
- If you are a light sleeper, then book a mountain view room or suite (so that you are not bothered by traffic noise).
- There are a some stairs inside the hotel, so elderly or disabled guests should request a room that is accessible without stairs.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Cape Town’s hot, dry summer months run from late October to March/April. Temperatures reach their peak between December and February, and this is generally seen as when to go to Cape Town for the best beach weather. Winter months (May to September) can be a wet, cold and rather disappointing affair.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Twelve Apostles hotel is located a 40 minute drive from Cape Town International Airport. The latter is served by major African full-service and low-cost airlines, as well as by most major European and Middle East Carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites). Currently, Singapore Airlines is the only Asian carrier to this marvelous destination. Check the Wikipedia page of Cape Town International Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Cape Town.
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