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I didn’t want ‘home’ when I visited the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.
See, home is great when the world is your oyster. However, when gilded gates suddenly spring up around you, and you are faced with a new reality that doesn’t bear the markers of your familiar perceived freedoms (a.k.a lockdown), then ‘home’ comes with a somewhat tolerable unease.
So, safe away-trips became the name of the game during the pandemic. Escaping home for a reprieve from working where you live, has led to a rise in local staycations, and I needed my own!
If all the allusions of grandeur I had imagined of the hotels’ suites, was to truly be realized though, Mount Nelson had to exceed all notions of ‘home’, and be a marvel of hospitality, wanderlust, and enduring tradition…and that is what I found!
If you had to imagine a snapshot of ‘ritziness’, or an evocation of a postcard-perfect locale in Cape Town – with class, mind you – the picturesque nature and experience of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel will always come first to the minds of many.
Here, there is not just one corner that speaks of elegance. At this hotel, there is not just one corner that encapsulates luxury. This is a place deeply steeped with a heady combination of history and intentional old world charm design. There are, however, no cobwebs of old, nor mouldy furnishings, creepy artworks, or drafts creaking through the hotels’ hallways. Theirs is a polished destination that differentiates from the culture of sameness we are familiar with, with a bountiful Belmond lifestyle of accessible affluence (and its perks) – all while embracing modern travel conveniences, like Wireless Internet and even an iPod dock.
Greenery colours the streetsides of the hotels lush suburb, and wild flowers cascade over fences and into the hodgepodge of apartments and homes lined side by side for miles, in the city that’s hugged by a craggy ridge that peaks at Table Mountain, and then plummets towards the Atlantic.
“Cape Town is a rare metropolis. The breathtaking delights of nature are matched by a vibrant cultural scene. The city’s past is as fascinating as it is varied…”The Belond Mount Nelson Hotel
Singular though Mount Nelson Hotel is, it is also placed perfectly to reach lifestyle and travel conveniences. Within five minutes walk, you can lose yourself amid trendy boutiques of Kloof street and its surround, or imbue yourself with fresh air and sunshine along the paths of Gardens parks. A 6 – 8 minute walk, will take you to internationally recognised foodie nirvana Bree Street, and bring you closer to the finest local wine, gin, and beer brews there is.
Perhaps it would be a shame not to take the hotel up on their private chauffeur offering anywhere in the city, for its guests, but there are Uber’s and cabs at the ready if a walk just isn’t your style.
The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is stately and loveable, with all its 7 wings and plush carpets. It has all the poise of an acquaintance you’ll never shirk, and it comes across as a figure of authority one instinctively reveres.
The Mount Nelson hotel has the kind of wonderful personality that is accessible for sure, but is wholly beatific in a way you can’t help but marvel at – that is the Belmond brand wherever you go in the world and, its why they attract such a quality array of clientele.
The Nellie is grand, and doesnt need any amount of extra sass or pomp of decor, to be heralded for its splendour.
Remember: Grandeur and Splendour aren’t an excess of wealth, and ostentatious gold lining every interior. Grandeur, as is seen at Mount Nelson, can be sedate and sophisticated, and a quietly memorable manifestation. This is evident in the reason why people pick The Nellie to dine (and definitely not just dash), and it is evident too, in the way food is brought to you, and how their hospitality is wrought.
Ever Wondered Why
The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is Painted Pink?
Well, I also just learned the rather pure and joyous reason: It was painted for celebration and commemoration.
Aldo Renato was The Nellie‘s manager once upon a time, and unwittingly kickstarted a trend (according to some reports) of pastel-hued European hotels. He decided to repaint the famed hotels exterior, in 1918, as a vivid expression of the paradigm-shifting news that World War I ended.
It wasn’t a decision made lightly, with Renato taking the time to work together with paint experts, to develop just the right rose-coloured hue. Fortuitously, the Mount Nelson Pink remains such a unique hue, even in a city flowing with multicoloured-themed neighbourhoods that speak of Cape history and the joys of the contemporary.
To the Belmond Mount Nelson brand, this pink symbolizes harmony, peace, and friendship – worthy of the pleasant hospitality visitors find here.
The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel has seen far more titillating figures than I visit, from Hollywood megastars, to presidents, and history-making writers abound. Whether it being convenience, the most dependable choice of the time, or some other reason, once any person is a guest at The Nellie, the fastidious design and execution of their service and hospitality has people gushing profusely, from South Africa’s shores, right through to the far reaches of the world.
Hygiene & Safety Check
Perched and fortified right opposite one of the inner cities few large parks, the towering white pillars at the drive’s start won’t be the only things you encounter. Extensive security updates even before the global pandemic, mean that this particular hotel is one of the few in the city capable of properly securing you and dignitaries alike.
If you make it past the gatekeepers booth (no luck if you have no reservation, by the way!) and the temperature scan at that start, then be assured there’s the sanitiser, form-filling, and temperature checks you run through with one of the attentive Guest Services pros at reception. Should you be one of the people wanting to bypass this step: perhaps consider staying home? These steps are vital, and the Belmond Mount Nelson gives no quarter to anybody, on ensuring the safety of their teams and guests, with these rigorous measures.
Now you’re through that hoop – wondering if there’s more?
For your sanity, and to reinforce the need to maintain hygiene protocols as habit, stretch your hand out near any high-traffic area hot spot, and find an automated sanitiser station ready to cleanse you.
- In your suite? All the sanitiser you need is there.
- At entry points throughout the property? Sanitiser is there!
- Just woke up, and want to have breakfast on the terrace? Temperature check and sanitiser!
You wont find any drop in the dedication the face masked Mount Nelson team has, to securing the hotel and everybody in it, for the better.
Let’s Talk About The Suite
The deluxe one-bedroom suite, with its own guest cloakroom too, is the kind of carefully curated space that award-winning authors write stories around. This is not Mount Nelson’s crown jewel, but nothing is as vibrant or laden with character in this story, without the impeccable and distinct mise-en-scene I lounged about in.
“Quietly confident” is likely how you could sum up the decor here.
This suite is functional and designed for elite tastes, with the likes of: Venetian mirrors, and textures like brown leather seating by the sturdy study desk (topped with traditional stationery), working alongside a statement-making velvet lounger to tie the open-plan room together, that includes dining quarters. There are demure coloured cottons and linens around too, and comfortable blends from curtains to carpets – all in service to instilling a sense of a lived-in editorialesque abode.
Character is all the more prominent in the fresh flowers springing out of a vase on the dining table too, and the respectable mix of great literature lining the walls of the sitting room and its deep-set couch, which is just waiting for travellers to throw themselves on it, and laze.
If you fancy a scrub down and making yourself up or down, the bathroom in this suite will not disappoint. In my narrow-minded world, I never understood the need for seating in a shower; and now I will never look back. Settle down in the wall-to-wall beautiful grey marble-tiled shower that’s big enough for 2 or 3, and rejoice in amazing water pressure and its steam.
If you are more for bubble baths, then this enormous suite (Size 68-114 sqm / 732-1227 sqft) includes a bath. But most of all, I really fancy the bathrooms vanity sink area, which comes complete with most beauty care essentials, like cotton buds and cotton wipes, as well as clean and functional fixtures which don’t leak, and a vanity mirror to zoom into your fantastic features.
Naturally, I did my cursory cleanliness check, and the Mount Nelson team proved diligent with not just cleaning a large portion of the suite, but ensuring there wasn’t a streaky residue left, as seeing those always irks me something fierce! The team is also so immediately responsive to housekeeping needs from guests (turndown service, laundry, cleaning etc.), which is a boon, as hotel rating systems and guests) rank response time highly there.
Over the last year, I have observed an inordinate rise in everyday people yearning and investing in some of the finest linens for their homes. We are all obsessed with quality bedding for wakefulness too, and not just for quality sleep. As a result, when I have such delightful and sensual encounters with hotel linens, they always leave me with a positive impression.
There is something in this suites whole hospitality design, that I don’t think I can replicate at home though…which is fine, because it is so perfectly matched with the suite’s unique bed canopy design, and my need to be served tea at all hours, in a lovely setting beyond home.
For fellow tea lovers, the tannin adventure doesn’t end with Afternoon Tea, or your hotel suites beverage station teabag ‘offering’. On the contrary, true high quality and generosity runs abound at Mount Nelson, with guests being able to order loose leaf teas to sip well into the night, from the frankly astoundingly abundant tea menu.
For my nighttime tea thrills, I abandoned my beloved Earl Grey, to try a pretty decadent selection of loose leaf mixes from around the world, including:
- Malawi Black Tea – which was perfect for my berry-loving soul, and much recommended to people who favour Hibiscus-type cuppas.
- Ceylon Petticalla Tea
- Yunnan Black Tea
- and Kenya Marinya Tea, which is reminiscent of Rooibos tea’s robust richness, and goes perfectly with milk and sugar – but has its herbaciousness enhanced best with honey.
Of course there is more to The Nellie than tea…
The five-star Belmond Mount Nelson refuses to be pidgeonholed by foodie convention. They may not have culinary ateliers, but the gourmet experience is no less indulgent to a visitor’s tastes.
Despite adjusting their culinary offerings in accordance with lockdown restrictions, those lucky enough to be in South Africa, can experience this tranquil rose-bushed oasis for an afternoon too, with the hotels gourmet picnic offering.
For a steal (R595, adults | R450, children), you can settle in poolside, or in the lush gardens (R395, adults | 250, children) of the estate, and nibble on some of the most delectable picnic foods, from: artisanal charcuterie, to tapenades, preserves, and assorted cheeses. There is something sweet, and something refreshing, and the alfresco dining is all well-matched with the rest & relaxation pushing at every visitor’s muscles from the minute they settle in here. Don’t worry about towels, as the hotel equips their picnic folk with their own pool lounger, and swimming towel too.
If a picnic is not for you, try a crowd-pleasing light lunch, or have an optional à la carte breakfast fit for royalty, as the hotels’ breakfast may be more contained, but it is no less delicious and generous in portions, and decent in choices for all dietary needs.
With a fine chef handling a team also adept at pastries, you can book in for a dessert treat (or three).
Hospitality and the Homerun
It is odd to feel so at ease in this truest manifestation of Cape class, but this grand dame of the African hotel scene has stood the test of time for a reason, and my visit has really showcased why.
It’s fascinating to be swept up in Belmond Mount Nelson‘s level of tailored care. Every member of the Belmond team proudly bears their personality as they engage guests and visitors, while also efficiently executing the demands of supreme hospitality as a unit – with enviable and memorable ease, mind you.
So, say you’re not in it for what the hotels grounds have to offer; there is a world of flavour fun, relaxation, and slivers of familiar comfort, to be found within the hotel – just delivered with far more gracious flair.
With pandemic restrictions being what they are, the hotel chose to scale down some of their more robust and extravagant dining offerings for example, but one would not be able to tell when settling in for a drink or a nibble, as there is the kitchen orchestra at play, the tabletop schpiel to keep pace with, my favourite entertainment of people-watching to enjoy while we distance, and the combination of idyllic natural lighting and fragrant (and beautifully plated) meals, that all produce a rather lovely dining production.
Also, whether its Afternoon Tea, or dinner, breakfast, or the current picnic special the hotel is offering, Belmond Mount Nelson adheres to the strictest hygiene and safety protocols, while commendably still finding a way to ensure people don’t feel disconnected from each other, and the dining out experience (as its quintessentially meant to be enjoyed).
**My recommendation: Timeless in Pink’ is my new cocktail addiction; crafted in celebration of the hotels 100-year-old milestone, and every tart but decadently sweet drop is worth calories and the buzz.
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