Stylish Safe Stay: Cartel House Hotel

For the regular traveller who sees vacations and adventure rarely more than once a year, such things as country clubs and showrooms of cultural clout & networking wealth, are movie sets and not a bonafide reality of reasonable means. However, in defiance of the times, the constraints of traditionalism, and in celebration of contemporary cultural evolution for the better, Ideas Cartel is bringing about a new age of what working, travel, lifestyle, and hospitality is.

“Ideas Cartel sets up spaces that set you up for success.”

Ideas Cartel

I’ve been lamenting something these past few years. Over the past 2-4 years, it was becoming harder and harder to find brand new hotels sprouting up in the Cape. A combination of human struggles and wayward travel habits, had tempered the hospitality market – egging them on to seek out relative safety. Safety became only a trickle of true fresh hotel living – but atleast ‘the establishment’ as it were in and around Cape Town, thrived.

Now – joyously – radical hospitality thinkers stormed the Cape Town shores with a brilliant concept – offering different, as it’s never before been seen on the African continent. The new age of hospitality, sure to tempt nearly everybody (and every business) to seek out their brand, is Ideas Cartel – a place and concept that’s more an “innovation intersection”.

“The Ideas Cartel ecosystem of multi-use spaces is designed to catalyse this connection across the modern lifestyle blend of work, stay and play.”

Ideas Cartel

Their concept includes accommodation, workspaces for more than just the self-employed, host experiences, exclusive lounging areas, decadently designed spaces, a members club, and so much more. So, my next foray back into hotel living, was at one of Ideas Cartel’s properties: Cartel House Hotel.

While the co-working space is an absolute vibe, it begs its own review. So, with the next instalment of the Stylish Safe Stay series, we focus on what a unique 2-day staycation designed by Ideas Cartel looks like – and whether you can leave your anxieties about hygiene & safety, at the door.

Can you call it a hospitality brand? I don’t even know

Here’s what I do know about the Cartel life: Ideas Cartel is rapidly expanding, it is exclusive but accessible, and it is so darn cool. With my only taste of this elite luxury urban lifestyle being as a guest to a SOHO House member during my overseas travels, the access a guest has to this brands pillars of living, is frankly unrivalled for the layman.

Here’s what they got right since their doors opened: Ideas Cartel embraces the young, and newer (one could also say creative) class from the start; What this means for its hotels, is travellers you cannot put just one face on, hotel suites maintaining a consistent richness of contemporary luxury (designed by Kojabu Concepts) you cannot really compare, smart amenities, and people who’s earnings are genuinely polarising but who can still find bespoke satisfaction in the Cartel experience. Though you’re unlikely to run into another guest unless you’re grabbing a drink at Cartel Cafe, or exploring the refreshingly vibrant tiered rooftop situation, should you see another guest, it’ll be a wild guess who they are, and what they do based off of their sartorial choices or suite.

I had never paid mind to the building that Cartel House Hotel now calls home. It was forgettable in its architecture, and never housed anything of interest to me, or those Capetonians always lurking for fresh finds in the inner city. The revamp of the building came totally out of left, and suddenly this cool and worldly property was open, and my Instagram feed was saturated in wanderlust-inducing snapshots, and videos of vibrant interiors and fitness fun I’d only deigned to wish for when reading retreat reviews in The Telegraph.

Who goes searching for an escape in the city? Who works poolside? Who goes searching for boujie photoshoot locations? Who can have regular business meetings over both coffee and beer? Who finds one place to revel in art, fashion, booze, and good company all in one?

Cartel House Hotel pretty much contextualises all the answers to the questions you can pose, about the urban lifestyle experience in Cape Town.

My unblemished PUMA travel sneakers of the season entered the premises with a, frankly hectic load of luggage trailing. The elevator may have left me leery of pressing any buttons or leaning against the silver metal, but my welcome at Cartel House Hotel, left me forgiving for its warmth and efficiency. Without an excess of forced hype, I was given my keys at the no-nonsense reception area and ushered to my suite – with security and Cartel team having vetted my adherence to hygiene and safety protocols, under the standard pandemic prevention measures of: Face Masks at all times in public areas, hand sanitization at the lobby, and hand sanitization suggested at the entryway of most of the Cartel work/live spaces. Security is taken up a notch with the hotel floors requiring special tags to even head towards via the elevator, and once the elevator doors open up…? One word: plush!

Plush is the high-quality velvet Chesterfield-style doors of each suite – ranging from teal green to rose pink, and peacock blues. One is already prepped for relaxation with the coolness of the hallway, and the varnished wood floors stretched out below a gorgeous resort-style Rattan bench with iron legs. If you tire of your room, or are unwilling to head for the cafe or roof, sitting on the bench that faces Table Mountain and offers up a sliver of the cityscape framed by clear wide windows, is a good bet.

Arrive as you are – day or midnight since Cartel House Hotel is on international time convenient to any of its guest – and be settled in the best mattress your slumber could yearn for. I could obviously write odes to the strong punch of deep colours the suite goes for, and paint an idyllic portrait of the panoramic view one gets of Cape Town from the suite I was in, but sometimes a stay away comes down to the bed you rest on – and this bed, is a dream!

The last time I had a sleep that good, the year was 2017 and the bed was in a plush, 5-star boutique hotel.

I simply cannot get over the mattress from my suite at Cartel House Hotel. Ideas Cartel didn’t just pick a standard bed for their guests. These mattresses (resting on some of the cutest and tasteful frames) are the peak of true comfort and relaxation – practically the highest pillar of a perfect staycation.

Bubbly is something that comes with choosing the unique vacation offer by Ideas Cartel. The City to Coast Package, also includes:

  • 2 night stay at Cartel House Hotel, for 2 people – including Breakfast
  • Premier welcome bottle of complimentary GH Mumm
  • ZAR500 tab at the resident bar – can be enjoyed bar-side, or on the rooftop
  • Sunrise Workout HIIT or Yoga Class (group classes)
  • and lunch with a view at Casa Labia (think Palace of Versailles, but its cousin) – including a transfer

Cartel Fit

My fitness escapade, is what you’d likely label an amateurs’ enthusiastic dance. I used the Ideas Cartel app to book a session in the resident FitPods high above the Loop Street bustle – a concept praised unequivocally by scores of people paying daily or monthly rates to workout in contained and hourly decontaminated units in the beautiful Cartel House Hotel building. There are sun-drenched studios for yoga (or dancing), or the more darkened pods to cycle in.

I chose the boxing pod, with minimalism reminiscent of something between mega-chain gyms and well-equipped hotel fitness centres.

Don’t forget, there are luxe locker rooms to clean up in – whether you’re a traveller of the day needing to freshen up, or just done with a workout session. There’s no spa here, but I don’t put it past Ideas Cartel to roll out one for the future. I wonder if I could get in on the waiting list now!?

What makes this place smart?

They have an app – and you can use it for nearly everything!

The Cartel House Hotel is a gem of a find for any traveller requiring the conveniences of the digital world for their trips seamlessness. You can shop for groceries and essentials, book a fitness session, secure a boardroom, ensure your sleep for the night, elevate your personal brand with members club perks, and literally a ton more. Their app is relatively easy to navigate, and does more than most.

Discover other peoples stories too, or even develop a new and fun skill, with the Ideas Cartel App now!

What makes it Safe?

If we’re talking security: the carefully logged tabs that unlock certain floors only for guests and personnel, is a boon. There is security everywhere from the parking bay to the lobby, and rooms aren’t hackable, thanks to good old fashioned keys to open them. They don’t have ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing guest keys, however, so you’ll have to be content with a quick sanitizing spray of your keys.

If we’re talking hygiene: Cartel House Hotel boasts strict secure valet protocols for peoples arrival, daily temperature screenings for all, no Room Service, therefore, limited contact with the in-house team, and frequent sanitization of all associate common areas. The elevator may be the only place I felt hesitancy towards upon arrival, from leaning against anything or touching the buttons within.

Probably one of the most well-known shining examples of Ideas Cartels cleanliness protocols being stellar is the FitPods, which are thoroughly cleaned following each persons’ session within them. There are hand sanitizers greeting at each door to the FitPods, and an individual making use of the complimentary towels will have them taken care of after a workout.

The hotel also uses signage and a few distance-indicators throughout some of the high-traffic areas (incl: room sets with updated seating/living/moving capacities), in order to allow for and encourage proper social distancing. With only watermarks on my kettle and cutlery to point out within my suite, you can breathe easy that the face masked Cartel team (gloveless but regularly hand sanitizing) is doing a decent amount to ensure your safety in hygiene and security.


Cartel life is an exploration of colour, commerce, and connection.

The ethos has already been defined, and is embodied in the quintessential urban dweller – a little bit vagabond (in that weathered and wanderlustful way), polished in certain ways, charmingly referential, and using millennial speak “vibey”!

It’s epic to have this momentary elite hotel life, that stretches to private membership opportunities – and does not come across as antiquated!

On the matter of Ideas Cartel itself, I’ll say that it’s not peak contemporary, but it sure is unparalleled in the South African landscape presently. I suggest getting in on a membership, while the getting is good. The membership options on offer bring something good and different to fitness needs, hospitality needs, and business needs in the 21st century.

It doesn’t have a waiting list…yet!

So, I suggest you make haste in gaining your membership – if only for the hotel deal perks!

I just know that in time, Cartel House Hotel will be another haven of day-drinking, that I can add to my weekly inner city Happy Hour hops. And if my boss is keen, also be my next office.

With my senses tingling that another Cartel outpost is nigh, for them: its Cape Town now, but the world in a heartbeat.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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