Whether you refer to it as the Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel or The Nellie in fond terms, the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town remains the ‘Pink Lady’ of the city, with many a story to tell.
- The property was let to an auctioneer in 1806 and the property was advertised in The South African Gazette as ‘Mount Nelson’, taking inspiration from Cape Town’s Table Mountain and the ubiquitous Lord Nelson.
- The Mount Nelson opened in March of 1899 and was the first hotel in South Africa to offer hot and cold running water.
- The Mount Nelson’s second manager, the Italian Aldo Renato, celebrated the end of the First World War by painting the hotel pink in 1918.
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It’s certainly one of South Africa’s most iconic hotels be it for its unique ‘Mount Nelson Pink’, which has been fine-tuned by paint experts, to fade to a specific pink between coats, or for its impressive guest-list, having welcomed the likes of Winston Churchill, Robbie Williams, the Dalai Lama, The Prince of Wales, U.S. Presidents, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes), ‘Mr Greenwood’ (the pseudonym check-in name for John Lennon) and too many notable names to mention.
With South Africa’s warmer months ahead, The Sandton Times headed down to Cape Town to preview all this iconic destination has in-store for guests. Welcomed by a team of people, the Mount Nelson management made sure our visit would go without wanting. After a smooth check-in we were taken to our suite by our unbelievably polished and story rich butler, who on more than one occasion, assured us of his availability to fulfill any want or need.
The impressive suite boasted a living and dining room, with guest toilet along with the main bedroom and generous bathroom. Beautifully put together, the suite felt more like a private boutique apartment, with crisp linen and an array of room-drops, creating a series of small joys (especially when your ‘love language’ are gifts).
Centrally located the Mount Nelson is suited for expeditions both close by and further afield. Not far from Kloof Street, the area has established itself as one of the inner-city’s gourmet boulevards. Here delicatessens, pavement cafés and fine-dining destinations offer a culinary showcase of cosmopolitan Cape Town.
In the daytime, the street-side eateries on Kloof buzz with energy, as diners flock to the vegetarian-focused fare at Blondie or the hands-on buns at Egghead Diner. The counter seating and terrace tables at Manna Epicure are ideal for people-watching with a flat white in hand, while nearby Saigon and Yindee’s are among the city’s best-loved Asian restaurants. You’ll also find the Olive Branch deli, a cornucopia of local artisanal produce, while Wine Concepts stocks an impressive portfolio of South African wines, with complimentary wine tastings hosted daily from 4-7pm. Come evening, there is no shortage of elegant dining destinations to discover.
In CARNE Giorgia Nava brings Milanese flair to prime cuts, elevating the steakhouse experience, while ëlgr chef Jesper Nilsson whisks together his Nordic heritage and international experience on a menu of contemporary small plates served in a thoroughly urban, and urbane, space. Likewise at Thali, chef-patron Liam Tomlin re-imagines contemporary Indian cuisine across a set menu of creative tapas-style dishes. And happily, after an evening of indulgence, it’s just a short walk to the Planet Bar within the Mount Nelson for a nightcap. And for those who love a good breakfast, the Mount Nelson does not disappoint with an abundant choice buffet breakfast, with a la carte options, ensuring a lavish start to the day. And why not include a glass of chilled Cap Classique with that?
The natural wonders of the hotel gardens also come in rather exotic forms. Not only sightings of squirrels, (an albino one too), Egyptian geese, hadedas, harrier hawks and ducks, and there is also a worm farm.
Wandering past the artworks and down the hotel’s impressive palm-lined avenue, cross over into the Company’s Gardens and Cape Town’s very own museum mile, housing the South African National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, Planetarium, Jewish Museum, Houses of Parliament, Slave Lodge and Archbishop Tutu’s St. George’s Cathedral. The Company’s Gardens was created by Dutch settlers. Fed by sweet water springs running off Table Mountain, this was the place to grow fresh produce to replenish ships rounding the Cape.
If you get the chance, be sure to book for the High Tea or Afternoon Tea – an extravagant selection of sweet and savoury treats, and local delicacies such as melktert, Cape Malay koeksisters and good-for-you local rooibos tea, maybe even taking a Tea Journey with the in-house Tea Sommelier.
The Mount Nelson is a stay not to be missed by seasoned travelers and those who love luxury with a splash of provenance. Families, take advantage of 25% off a second room when booking on the Mount Nelson’s regional SADC rates, valid until the end of August 2022. Visit the Mount Nelson website to book your next stay.
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