Travel South Africa: Labotessa Hotel

Themed around arts & culture, as well as history and the city, Labotessa Hotel is a relatively new kid on the Cape Town block, steadily finding its voice in the fray of the soulless and eccentric.

This place somewhat seems designed with more Business Travelers and Creatives in mind.

With a building history that dates back to the 17th century, the fresh hotel in Cape Town’s central business district is beautifully positioned amid neighbouring architectural landmarks, while also making its mark in a restrained way.

Outside, the hotel keeps with the muted, earth-toned temperament of the Cathedral, The Houses of Parliament, and the Slave Lodge in the area.

Inside though, is where the boutique hotel truly shows its colours under the experienced guidance of its Hotelier founders Johan du Plessis and Jan Fourie.

You may struggle to let loose here, but the ever-sophisticated Labotessa still welcomes you colourfully atleast.

Entering the hotel feels surprisingly intimate – the classic external facade houses a glamorous modern interior, beginning with the hotel’s own clinical Fragrance Boutique and its upmarket fragrant products.

If you watch enough movies, you can imagine the entryway of Labotessa Hotel like a London townhouse – stairs perfectly framed by the front door, and heading high.

The reception, which is just up the tiled staircase, feels like the familiar beginnings of traditional hotel hospitality.

It’s a comfortable, functional space preceding the colour bursts of the hotel suites, and where guests are greeted with warm efficiency and a much-welcomed beverage.

It’s also suited to people-watching up high for a moment and framing the hotels’ offerings as the upstairs seating of Labotessa Café & Terrace neighbours the reception too.

To be honest, the unequivocal gem of the boutique hotel is the Front Desk team.

Easy smiles, swift check-in procedures, and customized walk-throughs of the various hotel spaces ensure guests are never lost inside or out in the city.

They’re also equipped to organize and book amazing Cape Town experiences for you, like traversing & wine tasting in a world-famous vineyard, sailing the historic waters of the Cape, and even uncovering local gems (like FYN or shopping brands like Simon & Mary) for a taste of Africa.

The Signature Suites embody the quintessential spirit of Labotessa.

Lofty airs and a carefully curated interpretation of cosy luxury are what Labotessa is all about.

Though usually an experience I know only with luxury penthouses, the building elevator opening up directly into your suite, was a surprise but welcome convenience.

No extra keys, or an extra step, means that the key fob given to guests is the only one that can greenlight the elevator to that particular floor...and what a floor it opens up to!

The concrete sliver which the building seems like it is, is a deception only evident after checking in and seeing just how spacious the hotel rooms can be.

High ceilings paired with textured ceiling-to-floor drapes greet guests in their rooms’ sitting rooms. After looking at the unencumbered view of Lion’s Head through the white framed windows, the saturated colours of the room, set against French oak floors, become more prominent than ever.

Inky and petrol-blue blues form the base colourway, and shades of gold, orange, and ochre build a vibrant image, along with jewel tones.

Everything, across the bed to the sitting room, and even the bathroom, feels rich enough to touch and savour:

  • texture (like the velvet sofas)
  • colour (see: the sensational commissioned art)
  • and plushness (throw yourself on the bed).

Hotel hospitality essentials are stocked and ready, and travellers can enjoy luxury shower amenities (like Diptyque bathroom essentials) as well as get their ironing on as the room stashes its functional wares in accessible but discreet pockets around the room.

Before sleep, comes unwinding. And the complimentary minibar is a huge sell at Labotessa Hotel’s price point per night. Try local craft beer, or a simple soda or water – all cooling in the room’s mini fridge, and with homeware like plates and glasses stored in the cabinet bar of your room too, for easy access.

Crisp white bedding and a lush Simmons mattress would make for excellent sleep if intrusive thoughts regarding the elevator accidentally opening to your room in the middle of the night, don’t win.

If sleep is far from your mind, the compact and clean bar cubbie for brewing a hot cuppa (thank you Nespresso machine and Smeg kettle), or grabbing a chilled beverage, is ideal.

One could easily wile the day and night away with a tumbler of whisky (or a glass of wine) and the view.

I hear their two-storey Presidential Suite is said to be the stuff of dreams – culminating in a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or luxe anonymity up high, for the famous or wealthy.

Try it for its 2+ bathtubs and outdoor plunge pool, as well as one of the most sensational views of the acclaimed Table Mountain and Lions Head.



Rating: 3 out of 5.

For the traveller seeking a far more European aesthetic where they bed in the Cape, Labotessa Hotel can seamlessly check that box. It does not have all the glitzy facilities that make chain hotels and expansive hotel properties like Belmond Mount Nelson a predictable pick, but what they do have (like Free Wifi) is enough for most independent travellers with straightforward European hotel sensibilities.

Its cafe is already popular for those wanting to dine like a Parisienne on the patio brimming with potted plants. Some head inside though, to catch a polished, bistro-style indoor ambience complete with a fireplace, chandeliers, and spiral staircases.

The food fills and the hot beverages warm.

You’ll not regret a meal here, whether lunching or having a breakfast like Shakshuka or Eggs Benedict. It’s a place decent enough to dine, but given Cape Town’s heady reputation for casual to chic eateries serving a medley of taste experiences, I wouldn’t count this cafe among those impactful enough to recommend right now.

Stocked with products by Dr Vranjes and Penhaligon, the dedicated Fragrance Boutique is an experience all on its own, and visitors are encouraged to browse and shop their favourite scents.

That’s a heady experience I recommend.

Getting to this hotel is easy enough – whether by Uber, shuttle or self-driving.

Parking directly along the hotel is not always feasible due to space, so some may mark that against the hotel. But there is valet parking if one notifies the hotel before arrival.

They have a more than adequate set-up for drop-offs, as well as accessibility in their interior spaces (large showers and direct lift access). And, while the team is smaller than most hotels, the staff are at the ready to assist any visitor with some luggage or navigation guidance.

They still have some ways to go, but at least there’s strong promise to eventually woo more and more travellers to their cobbled corner.


5 Church Square, 37 Parliament St, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
+27 21 010 6600

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