It was the middle of a hot Sunday afternoon in early February; and it was bedlam in reception. The Mount Nelson is famous for its afternoon tea and most of the tourists in Cape Town had arrived or were arriving to enjoy a cucumber sandwich and a cream fancy. The hotel felt huge, impersonal and intimidating…. and we hated it A fierce and humourless lady on the reception desk told us that the hotel was “at 100% occupancy” and they had no room ready for us- so we would have to wait in the lounge. We did as we were told. But when we tried to sit down in the lounge we were shooed away by an equally fierce “Maître d” - who said that he was fully booked for afternoon tea and, whatever the receptionist had said, he wasn’t going to let us sit down and spoil his seating arrangements.
So we were left to our on devices - happily the bar was more accommodating. We still felt rather forlorn and disorientated but at least I was able to buy myself a welcoming drink! By then my wife wanted to go back to Franschhoek… and we considered making a hasty departure, but just in the nick of time, and by a miracle, a chap called Patrick took charge; made up for the misery of the arrival by sorting us out a lovely room (OK a suite!) and made us feel (for the first time) genuinely welcome. And (first receptionist and Maître de afternoon tea aside) the staff were all like that; warm, hospitable, welcoming and genuinely friendly. They were all “Patricks” – nothing was too much trouble for them!
It’s pointless waxing lyrical about the room because we must have been given an upgrade to end up in the room that we did; and all the rooms are different (the more you pay the better the room!). For what it’s worth- the air conditioning is quiet and efficient – the beds are very comfortable and the plumbing works.
This is the epitome of a Grand Hotel. There is a concierge who will – without fuss- sort you out with cars and reservations (as concierges should). There are plenty of very agreeable paces to eat and drink in the hotel, handsome gardens and two superb swimming pools. A larger “all ages” pool and a smaller “adults only” pool. The “adults only” pool was nearer to our room so we chose to use that. The “adults only” pool is beautiful; it's next to Sydenham Terrace (a pretty row of mock Edwardian cottages with roses in the gardens). The only drawback is that some of the regular users (Daily Mail readers to a man) were treating the pool like a private club and had a rather proprietorial attitude to the loungers and sun umbrellas. But there are plenty of them (loungers that is- not Daily Mail readers) and the attitude of the “regulars” was more amusing than irritating. We felt sorry for a family of geese (mum, dad and seven baby goslings) that had the temerity to use the pool for a swim… and earned the opprobrium of the “regulars”. The geese (who were very noisy and not at all respectful of the “regulars”) reappeared next morning. One of the “regulars” pronounced them a danger to health, life and limb (second only apparently to the squirrels) and then the geese mysteriously disappeared!
We were only there for three days – but, once we became familiar with the hotel and the staff, we enjoyed it more and more. By the time we came to leave we were really sorry to go and we look forward to going back for a longer stay. And we solemnly promise not to sit on the reserved loungers!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, in Cape Town’s buzzing heart. We invite you to relax in our iconic pink buildings, airy rooms and dreamy gardens. Enjoy imaginative local cuisine, nourishing spa treatments and eye-catching artworks. Captivating visitors since 1899, Cape Town’s iconic resort hotel is a tranquil hideaway just moments from the city’s buzzing heart. Our 198 individually designed rooms and suites and a host of fabulous facilities appeal equally to romantic couples, families or adventurous groups. Stroll through our expansive gardens, take a tree tour or browse the outdoor sculpture exhibition. Discover the hotel’s history, art and culture on self-guided tours. Enjoy imaginative cuisine in our restaurants and soothing bliss at the spa. Just beyond our gates lies the pulsating city, with stunning beaches and historic hotspots moments away. Forever watching over the hotel is Table Mountain, another wondrous Cape Town landmark. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mount Nelson Cape Town
- Hotel Mount Nelson
- Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel Cape Town, South Africa