The Mount Nelson Hotel

Photo: Supplied

Belmond Mount Nelson: Take a look inside Cape Town’s most iconic hotel [photos]

It’s classy, stylish and one of the most famous venues in South Africa. We were invited to stay at The Mount Nelson, and here’s what you need to see…

The Mount Nelson Hotel

Photo: Supplied

How do you hide a five-star hotel in the middle of a bustling city centre? The world-famous resort is one of the most recognisable buildings in South Africa, yet it does not dominate the skyline of the Mother City. In fact, that’s perhaps what makes The Belmond Mount Nelson so endearingly popular – it’s a slice of tranquillity on the doorstep of the rat race.

The Mount Nelson Hotel
Even better in the sunset.

What you need to know about The Mount Nelson Hotel

Its reputation has been forged over centuries of rich history. The property went up for auction in 1806, but it would be another 93 years before “The Nellie” would officially go live as a tourist destination. Sir Donald Currie lead the revamp, as the hotel became the first in South Africa to provide both hot and cold water via the taps.

From its humble 19th-century origins, The Mount Nelson has flourished in an elegant manner. It has become a symbol of opulence and extravagance, in a city which relishes hosting the rich and famous. This resort has plenty of its own claims to fame, with the likes of Winston Churchill and Arthur Conan Doyle previously stopping by for a visit.

Their on-site spa takes the R&R to the next level.

Recently, The Mount Nelson opened their doors to a much more unspectacular British person: Me…

We were invited to spend the night at the exclusive hotel, and once we’d stopped celebrating the news in the office, we packed our bags and headed to the heart of the Mother City. Next stop, the pink palace…

24 Hours in The Belmond Mount Nelson

If you had any preconceptions about The Nellie being a victim of its own reputation, you can immediately put that to one side. There’s not an ounce of stuffiness to the place, and the warm welcome we received set the tone for the rest of our stay. The hospitality remains out-of-this-world, and that was also the case at Planet Bar.

Live piano performances also happen regularly at The Nelson.

Like any self-respecting reviewers, we hit the cocktails at midday. The hotel group who own the iconic venue (Belmond) have their own signature cocktail menu that demands your attention. We recommend anything containing gin, as it goes down the hatch smoothly on a warm afternoon.

High Tea at The Mount Nelson

We then climbed a few social classes when we sat down for high tea in the afternoon. The aromatic, flavoursome blends were the perfect compliment to our scrumptious scones and towers of savoury treats. And, if the impressive servings haven’t filled the gap, just have a look at what you can have afterwards…

Death by delicacies, please…

Yep. You can have as many desserts as you want. So if you’ve got a genuine sweet tooth or you enjoy a good nibble on a fluffy pastry, this should be your thing… Just don’t wear any items of clothing that require a belt, please.

The Mount Nelson Hotel
A most befitting venue for high tea.

After stuffing our faces and supping our drinks, it was time to check out our room. Upon the fourth floor, our suite came equipped with its own balcony, a spacious bathroom and a bed that could double-up as the world’s comfiest marshmallow.

One of the 198 immaculate rooms at The Mount Nelson.

The accommodation is refreshingly airy, complemented by light colours and mellow designs which create an incredibly relaxed vibe to the place. We must admit, it’s simply divine to just sit back and take in the beauty of Table Mountain from the comfort of your breathtaking residency.

Chilling by the pool

Of course, you can’t go to The Mount Nelson without taking a dip in their sprawling pools. The calm waters are perfect for those who are looking to kick-back, and there’s a couple of ways you can do this:

It’s hard to resist a dip in here!
  • The main pool at the front of the hotel is the ideal spot to take in a few drinks and keep things social.
  • Round the back, a second pool is hidden in its own little garden. Go for a swim here if you’re seeking silence and isolation.
The Mount Nelson Hotel
The serene “second pool”.

Eating at The Lord Nelson

After finally burning off the excess calories with a few lengths, dinner time soon came around. Did we learn our lesson and eat in moderation? Did we heck… The Lord Nelson Restaurant would be our next stop, and the good times kept on rolling: Again, we were treated to the most impeccable service – but the food would soon take centre-stage.

You can choose to have two, three or four courses when you dine at this eatery. We went down the middle and plumped for a three-course sitting. If you do find yourself in this wood-furnished dining hall – which wouldn’t have been out of place on the Titanic – we highly recommend the vegetable risotto and the lamb dishes.

The Mount Nelson Hotel
A truly mesmeric dining hall.

We would retire to our room after an evening of sophistication and class. There’s arguably nothing more humbling than realising your place in the shadow of the mountain, with the hum of Cape Town’s city lights for company. Morning soon came, and as the light billowed in through our window, it dawned on us that time was almost up.

Is there any better way to wake up?

Booking a stay at The Belmond Mount Nelson

We were bowled over by the diverse range of breakfast options on offer. You can go continental, fried or even get on the health-kick. Sat by the gardens and the pool, you’d struggle to find a more peaceful setting for your first meal of the day – even if you do have to give some of your salmon to the inquisitive resident cat!

The Mount Nelson Hotel
An idyllic breakfast spot.

It’s hard to pinpoint a flaw in their 198-room operation. They are perhaps one of the pricier hotels on the Cape Town market, but from R5 000 a night, you absolutely get what you pay for. If you want a perfectly traditional, yet effortlessly modern take on a high-class hotel, get saving up for The Nellie – because it’ll be worth every cent you spend.

  • All photos were provided by The Mount Nelson and The Belmond Group.