Family holiday review: Cape Grace, South Africa

Cape Town offers an amazing city break for families - especially in a peaceful family-friendly, yet luxury, hotel

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Cable car up Table Mountain

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Penguins on Boulders Beach

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Cape Point

In a nutshell: Cape Grace, located on the edge of the popular Cape Town V&A waterfront, is a luxury family-friendly hotel, situated centrally for exploring the many activities and sights of this South African city and local attractions.

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Best for: Families who like city breaks with the convenience of beautiful beach attractions close by. Even though Cape Grace is centrally located, it’s still peaceful and quiet in the evening.

Cape Town is a malaria free zone, so you don’t need to take anti-malaria tablets. It’s also good to know that although flights to Cape Town from London take around 11 hours, there’s only one hour time difference (most of the travelling is southwards). So if you can get your children to sleep for the night once you’ve arrived, jet lag may not be a problem. 

What’s the hotel like?

Situated on the working harbour and flanked on one side by luxury apartments and yachts, Cape Grace sits almost in the shadow of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain. Arriving at night, we drew back the curtains in the morning to discover an uninterrupted view of this magnificent sight. The elegant rooms are decorated, as part of a recent entire hotel redesign, to reflect the culture rich history of Cape Town. Each room hosts an authentic South African antique – ours was a wooden child’s chair.

There are a variety of suites available. All have stunning spa-style bathrooms, dressing rooms, mini bar and air conditioning. Some rooms have interconnecting doors, or multiple bedrooms. Bedrooms are spacious and super comfortable with additions such as iPod docks and spa toiletries.

For children, Cape Grace prepares your room for everything your little ones will need and want as well as giving them fun activity packs upon arrival. From cots and child-friendly toiletries, to pint-sized robes and cuddly toys, just let the hotel know your child’s needs in advance. Equipment such as car seats and swimming aids are also available to hire during your stay.

Why it’s family-friendly

The Cape Grace offers special gifts and lots of activities for children, including:

  • Welcome gifts
  • Story time in the library
  • Gingerbread man painting
  • Heated swimming pool
  • Colouring-in and activity books
  • Children’s DVDs
  • Nintendo Wii and X-Box
  • Special kids turndown with African bedtime stories and gingerbread men
  • Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, books and games

Sightseeing in Cape Town

If you can tear your children away from the hotel’s swimming pool, and each other away from the funky whisky bar Bascule, then the V&A Waterfront is a great place to start enjoying the South African city’s culture. The Victorian-style fronted shops, restaurants and excellent food market compliment the buzz of the working harbour and children will love seeing giant boats sailing in and out and being docked to be repaired, while a colony of seals sometimes basks along the Waterfront. The Waterfront is South Africa’s most revisited tourist attraction, with a pirates playground, numerous boat tours to choose from and ferries to Robben Island. Close by is the Two Oceans Aquarium, which has delightful underwater passages.

One of the best, and most pocket friendly, ways to see the city is by using the City Sightseeing Hop On – Hop Off bus. There are two routes. The Red Route explores the city, taking you up to the foot of Table Mountain, across to the glamorous Camps Bay beach resort and through the city centre catching sight of the Town Hall, District Six and the castle. You can choose to get off and explore, then rejoin the bus as you please. Headphones for  commentary are included. The Blue Route is longer and takes in the famous Kirstenbosch Gardens.

For the best views in town, you must take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. The steep journey ensures everyone gets a good view, as the car rotates 360 degrees. At the top, there are a variety of signposted walks as well as a café selling delicious treats and some tasty wine (for the grown ups!)

It is also worth noting that the Cape Grace hotel offers a complimentary chaffeur service up to 10K away from the hotel. This can be booked through the concierge. The concierge is also great for assistance with organising your sightseeing options.

Sightseeing tours

We took a fantastic half-day tour with Hylton Ross to Cape Point, which cost around £50 per person. Taking in scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean, we journeyed towards the Southern tip, stopping to take pictures with the Jackass penguin colony at Boulders Beach – children will love taking pictures of the penguin parades! At Cape Point, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, you can take the funicular railway up to the lighthouse, which offers spectacular views. The tour also includes a drive through Simonstown and Chapman’s Peak Drive. It was excellent value for money and a great way to take in so many sights.

Other places to visit include the beachside Camps Bay and the delightful 12 Apostles Hotel – an elegant hotel with fabulous locally sourced menus, extensive wine lists and the cosy, renowned Leopard Lounge. This is a great spot to have a traditionally South African dinner and watch the sunset with a cocktail – perhaps after enlisting Cape Grace’s babysitting services?

We made the most of our holiday to South Africa, by combining our visit with a visit to the family-friendly, Sanbona Private Game Reserve. Sanbona is around a four-hour drive from Cape Town and transfers can be pre-arranged with the concierge at Cape Grace, or on an individual basis. 

Restaurants

Cape Town itself is a veritable food-lover’s heaven. The Signal restaurant at the hotel offers breakfast, included in your stay, and also hosts evening meals. There is a tasting menu or a la carte menu for the evening, which are filled with fragrantly spiced dishes. Our favourites were the seared scallops served with pork belly and the fillet of Chalmar beef served with goats cheese arancini. Additionally, the Library serves a delicious-looking afternoon tea. Although we filled up so much at breakfast, we couldn’t eat anything until dinner! You must try the pancakes with caramelised apple and smoked pork belly. 

The nearby One & Only hotel plays host to Reubens resturant, run by South African celebrity chef, Reuben Riffel. This grand and glamorous hotel also houses a Nobu restaurant and is only a five minute walk from the Cape Grace. The cuisine at Reubens, where we spent an evening, is sophisticated but unfusssy. A highlight, for mums and dads, has to be the extensive wine loft with over 5000 bottles – quite the sight! 

Mummy me-time

If you can persuade your partner to look after the children for a couple of hours, the hotel spa offers the perfect place to relax. With a view of Table Mountain, it offers special Kalahari Signature Massages, QMS Medicosmetics anti-ageing Treatments and a fully-equipped gym. You can even indulge in a special couple’s massage; if the mood so takes you!

I enjoyed a Rolling Sands massage, which was a top-to-toe massage with warming Kalahari oil. Including a scalp massage, it eased the aches associated with a long-haul flight that are commonplace for adults with long legs!

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Don’t miss… our review of a safari holiday at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

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