Discover where's cool in Cape Town
Tatler’s travel editor, Francisca Kellett, tells us that Cape Town is having a moment right now. She reveals why hip arts and foodie scene is worth crossing the world for…
Francisca Kellett is the travel editor of Tatler magazine
As a travel editor, I shouldn’t pick a favourite place – it’s just not the done thing – but when it comes to Cape Town, I have to stick my hand in the air and say: “Yes! This is it!” Cape Town is, no question, one of the most beautiful – and most fun – cities on the planet. It has wild beauty with its towering mountain and off-the-scale beaches. It has brilliant food and some of the best wines in the world. It has friendly, laid-back locals who welcome you with open arms. And it is having a moment, right now, with a hip arts and foodie scene that’s worth crossing the world for.
Here’s what to see while you’re there...
The City Bowl
Cape Town’s city centre, a grid of grand colonial buildings, stretches down from Table Mountain towards the Foreshore. Long Street and Kloof Street have ever been home to its most buzzing bars and restaurants. Top of the current hip list is Bree Street, a colourful drag of Victorian townhouses. Up towards the top end of the road are funky boutiques, including Missibaba (boho-chic handbags), Kirsten Goss (local, handmade jewellery) and Skinny laMinx (bold geometric fabrics). Put up your feet (and down your bags) with a coffee from Jason’s Bakery, or go for something stronger at Mother’s Ruin – the spot for a pre-dinner gin cocktail. Then sample the organic wines at nearby Publik. For dinner, head down to The Shortmarket Club, the hottest restaurant in town, run by whizz-kid Luke Dale-Roberts, or La Parada, a tapas bar popular with a local crowd.
What used to be a run-down, working-class neighbourhood has transformed into Cape Town’s answer to Shoreditch. Renovated warehouses are home to cutting-edge art galleries and shops. The day to come is Saturday, for the Neighbourgoods Market held in the Old Biscuit Mill – a bustling food market with long communal tables for shared feasting, as well as craft stalls and boutiques to browse around, and buskers livening things up.
The V&A Waterfront
Credit Iwan Baan
Okay, the V&A strip of restaurants, shops and shopping malls is touristy, but the brand-new Silo Hotel and just-opened Zeitz MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary African Art) is jazzing up the southeast corner and making it a destination in its own right. Do have a stroll, and then head to the other end to the Grand Cafe & Beach for cocktails and barefoot dancing in the sand.
The Atlantic Seaboard
Clifton is where the beautiful people go to sunbathe and frolic, to see and be seen – and the beaches (there are four in total) are as handsome as the regulars. White sand crescents shelve into deep turquoise waves – but be warned: the water sweeps straight up from Antarctica and it’s cold (around 10 degrees in the middle of summer). There are no shops here – beach vendors stroll around selling cold drinks and ice creams – so for more of a scene, continue round the headland to Camps Bay, a wide sweep of a beach backed by a buzzy promenade of shops and restaurants. You can bed down here, too, at the stylish little The Marly hotel, set just across the road from the beach, with bright-white rooms and a friendly, boutiquey feel.
Out and about
It’s the great outdoors that is the headline act in Cape Town, and number one on your list should be Table Mountain, a vast, towering wilderness set slap-bang in the middle of the city. Whizz up by cable car, or be more adventurous and take a guided hike to the top (it’s not easy, but it’s worth it). A gentler alternative is Lion’s Head, which you can climb up unguided (go in a group, and take a torch to make your way back down after sunset), or even easier is the drive up to Signal Hill for sundowners and epic sea views. At the very tip of the peninsula is Cape Point, a wild slice of rock jutting into the Atlantic, and best visited on a road-trip by side-car. Look out for the baboons scurrying about once you get there, and hold on to any snacks – they’ve been known to steal sandwiches straight out of visitors’ hands. Further around the coast, at the beginning of False Bay, is Boulders Beach, so-called because of the huge granite rocks littering the sand, but best-known for its colony of African penguins. Watch from the broadwalk as they waddle about their daily business (but note that they can be a bit smelly).
Do spend a couple of days in the Cape Winelands just an hour out of town, a beautiful area of rolling vineyards, purple-hued mountains and lovely wine estates. The village of Franschhoek is pretty, with a wine tram that trundles between the wineries, while Stellenbosch is more authentic – a charming, proper working town with a university. If you want to stay in the area, Oude Werf is a gorgeous historical boutique hotel, offering stylish rooms and fantastic dining. For the foodies, there are various farmers’ markets in town at weekends.